University Libraries & Learning Sciences Faculty Publications

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

12-1-2008

Abstract

When many collections are brought together in a federation or aggregation, the attributes of the original collections can become difficult to discern. Collection-level metadata has the potential to provide important context about the purpose and features of individual collections, but the qualitative aspects of collections are difficult to describe in a systematic way. This paper reports on a content analysis of collection records in the Digital Collections and Content (DCC) aggregation, conducted to analyze the kinds of substantive and purposeful information represented across 202 cultural heritage collections. We found that the free-text Description field often provides more accurate and complete representation of subjects and object types than the specified fields; it consistently represents properties such as uniqueness, importance, comprehensiveness, provenance, and creator of items in digital collection, and other vital contextual information about the intentions of collectors and the value of collections for scholarly users. The results show that free-text collection metadata can be both concise and semantically rich, and can provide a valuable source of data for enhancing and customizing controlled vocabularies.

Publisher

Haworth Press

Publication Title

Journal of Library Metadata

Volume

8

Issue

4

First Page

263

Last Page

292

Language (ISO)

English

Sponsorship

IMLS National Leadership Grant LG- 06-07-0020-07

Keywords

descriptive metadata, metadata aggregation, federated digital collections, collection metadata

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