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Digital Collection Projects

This guide is designed to assist students with completing digital collection class projects.

What is Metadata?

Metadata is descriptive or contextual information which refers to or is associated with another object or resource. This usually takes the form of a structured set of elements which describe the information resource and assists in the identification, location and retrieval of it by users, while facilitating content and access management (DCC, 2007).

For digitized objects, metadata could be the item title, the creator of the object and other descriptive tags or subjects.

Dublin Core Metadata

At the University of Calgary, we typically recommend using Dublin Core elements to describe your digital objects. This is the standard used by Omeka. 

What is Dublin Core?

The Dublin Core Schema is a small set of vocabulary terms that can be used to describe web resources (video, images, web pages, etc.), as well as physical resources such as books or CDs, and objects like artworks.

Simplified Dublin Core Elements

Element Definition Example
Title A name given to the resource.  title of a painting, photo, document; the name of a person when using the "person" item type; the name of a lesson plan.
Subject The topic of the resource. Typically, the topic will be represented using keywords, key phrases, or classification codes. Recommended best practice is to use a controlled vocabulary. To describe the spatial or temporal topic of the resource, use the Coverage element. Library of Congress subject headings; subject-specific nomenclature.
Description An account of the resource. Description may include but is not limited to: an abstract, a table of contents, a graphical representation, or a free-text account of the resource.  a photo caption; descriptive information of an artifact/museum object; summary of a lesson plan; abstract or summary of a long document;
Creator An entity primarily responsible for making the resource. Author/authors; artists; photographers; institutional authors or producers, such as university or federal agency.
Source The resource from which the described resource is derived. The described resource may be derived from the related resource in whole or in part. Recommended best practice is to identify the related resource by means of a string conforming to a formal identification system. Accession number; Collection of objects; Division of an archive or library.
Publisher An entity responsible for making the resource available. actual publisher, if there is one; entity or consortium publishing digital materials.
Date A point or period of time associated with an event in the lifecycle of the resource. Date may be used to express temporal information at any level of granularity. Recommended best practice is to use an encoding scheme, such as the W3CDTF profile of ISO 8601 [W3CDTF] Date is one of the trickiest fields to fill. You will want to decide how best to use it for your project for consistency. There is an open text field for date so that you can reflect the type of date information you have whether it is a very specific date MM/DD/YYYY or if it is "circa 1940".  
Contributor An entity responsible for making contributions to the resource. person who contributed a story or file for an Omeka collecting project; owner or donor of collected objects
Rights Information about rights held in and over the resource. Typically, rights information includes a statement about various property rights associated with the resource, including intellectual property rights. spell out conditions of use for specific items here; Creative Commons type; Public Domain
Relation A related resource. Recommended best practice is to identify the related resource by means of a string conforming to a formal identification system.  
Format The file format, physical medium, or dimensions of a resource. size and duration
Language A language of the resource. English; Russian; Spanish, et al.
Type The nature or genre of the resource. Recommended best practice is to use a controlled vocabulary such as the DCMI Type Vocabulary [DCMITYPE]. To describe the file format, physical medium, or dimensions of the resource, use the Format element. Document, Moving Image, Oral History, Sound, Still Image, Website, Event, Email, Lesson Plan, Hyperlink, Person, or Interactive Resource.
Identifier An unambiguous reference to the resource within a given context. Recommended best practice is to identify the resource by means of a string conforming to a formal identification system. Accession number; Call number
Coverage The spatial or temporal topic of the resource, the spatial applicability of the resource, or the jurisdiction under which the resource is relevant. Spatial topic and spatial applicability may be a named place or a location specified by its geographic coordinates. Temporal topic may be a named period, date, or date range. A jurisdiction may be a named administrative entity or a geographic place to which the resource applies. Recommended best practice is to use a controlled vocabulary such as the Thesaurus of Geographic Names [TGN]. Where appropriate, named places or time periods can be used in preference to numeric identifiers such as sets of coordinates or date ranges.  

Metadata Guides