Student Snippets A Window Into The Daily Life & Thoughts of SLIS Students

Mastering Metadata

Amie Grosshans

One of the most interesting things about metadata is that there is a big difference between reading about metadata and creating metadata. I learned a little about this last year when we covered the topic briefly in LIS 415, but I’m learning a lot more about it now. The readings make metadata creation seem straightforward, but when I try to complete my assignments, I often get stuck. There is so much to think about, and so many categories to cover. Sometimes it’s hard to figure out if I’ve covered all the possible information I need to for a particular item. 

For example, this week we have to create our own metadata schema to describe three different music albums. We don’t have to describe the albums yet, just come up with all the categories necessary to describe them. The starting point is the album cover and back, which includes information such as the title of the album, the artist and other contributors, and the song titles. There can also be information on the producer(s), the studio name, and the location of the studio. There might be more than one date as well, depending on the type of album and whether or not the copyright has been renewed. There could also be various identification numbers, similar to ISBN numbers for books, or text describing a part of the artist or album. 

You also need to figure out if the album is related to any other work.  One of the albums we have to work with is the soundtrack to A Charlie Brown Christmas. The album is related to several other items:  the television special, which was based on the book, which was based on the comic strip, which was created by Charles Schultz.  All of this information needs to be included in the metadata in some way, but it’s difficult to figure out how to express those relationships succinctly. One of our other examples is a movie soundtrack. I’m unclear about how much information about the movie itself, like the actors, producers, or directors, needs to be included in the metadata, or if a simple statement that it’s related to the movie is enough. I can’t include everything in the metadata, because that would take a lot of time and potentially make reading the metadata more confusing. Since metadata has to be searchable and useful, this is a key point. I’m definitely on the side of more concise metadata, but I’m not sure yet how to make sure every aspect of an items is covered to the fullest extent. I know we’re going to go over all of that in the coming weeks and I’m looking forward to it. It’s fascinating and frustrating at the same time.