metadata in archival and cultural heritage settings: a review of the literature

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  • This article was downloaded by: [University of Louisville]On: 19 December 2014, At: 20:06Publisher: RoutledgeInforma Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registeredoffice: Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK

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    Journal of Library MetadataPublication details, including instructions for authors andsubscription information:http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/wjlm20

    Metadata in Archival and CulturalHeritage Settings: A Review of theLiteratureJulia Skinneraa Florida State University School of Library and Information Studies,Tallahassee, Florida, USAPublished online: 09 Apr 2014.

    To cite this article: Julia Skinner (2014) Metadata in Archival and Cultural Heritage Settings: A Reviewof the Literature, Journal of Library Metadata, 14:1, 52-68, DOI: 10.1080/19386389.2014.891892

    To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/19386389.2014.891892

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  • Journal of Library Metadata, 14:5268, 2014Published with license by Taylor & FrancisISSN: 1938-6389 print / 1937-5034 onlineDOI: 10.1080/19386389.2014.891892

    Metadata in Archival and Cultural HeritageSettings: A Review of the Literature

    JULIA SKINNERFlorida State University School of Library and Information Studies, Tallahassee, Florida, USA

    This article provides an overview of the literature related to meta-data in the context of archives and museums. This article hasseveral goals: to outline current practices, theories, and models; todiscuss existing metadata schemas; and to identify theoretical mod-els that apply to metadata schema design in this context. The articlealso explores best practices and identifies gaps in the literature; itoffers suggestions for future research on metadata in archives andcultural heritage institutions.

    KEYWORDS archival metadata, archives, cultural heritage,literature review, museums

    Cultural heritage institutions are the stewards of a dizzying array of digitaland tangible artifacts. Effectively describing these items and sharing thosedescriptions across institutions are two major challenges these organiza-tions face. One role of metadata standards is to increase the interoper-ability of metadata created at individual institutions, which fosters sharingof records. This article explores how those standards are guided by theo-ries and methods and describes the current state of metadata standards incultural heritage institutions. While there are a variety of cultural heritageinstitutions that could be included, this article focuses only on archives andmuseums.1

    A variety of metadata standards and practices can be found in culturalheritage spaces, offering a wealth of diverse literature from a variety of view-points, as well as the opportunity for exciting future study. Elings and Waibel(2007) divided the description of metadata into five key concepts: data fieldsand structure (elements or categories waiting to be filled by the specific

    Julia SkinnerAddress correspondence to Julia Skinner, Doctoral Candidate, Florida State University

    School of Library and Information Studies, 600 W. College Ave., Tallahassee, FL 32306, USA.E-mail: Js11j@my.fsu.edu

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  • Metadata in Archival and Cultural Heritage Settings 53

    information related to a work); data content and values (the information thatfills those elements and categories, which is guided by standards that tellthe content creator what terms to use); data format (deals with the encodingof the information); eXtensible Markup Language (XML; is most common incultural heritage settings); and data exchange (the protocol used to share acollection of multiple records). Based upon their work, this article focuseson these five key concepts within Encoded Archival Description (EAD), Cat-egories for the Description of Works of Art (CDWA), and Cataloging CulturalObjects: A Guide to Describing Cultural Works (CCO). The article also dis-cusses other standards in the literature, the role of theory and method inmetadata research, and future research directions.

    STANDARDS USED IN CULTURAL HERITAGE ENVIRONMENTS

    The Development of Cultural Heritage Standards

    The tools that can be related to each of these four concepts vary across dif-ferent types of institutions. Archives, unlike libraries, have historically reliedupon locally created finding aids that were not shared across institutions andthat described materials that did not exist anywhere else. Archival profes-sionals created their own content standard, Archives, Personal Papers, andManuscripts (APPM), to account for their unique needs. Later, EAD was de-veloped as networked computing became more common. EAD came to bepreferred over other standards, like APPM and Anglo-American CatalogingRules (AACR), both of which are tied to the machine-readable cataloging(MARC) format (Elings & Waibel, 2007).

    The history of metadata in museums also evolved as technologychanged. The CDWA was the first attempt at a data structure specificallycreated for art objects, and it is still used in art museums. However, theneed for smaller element sets that could be shared across systems causedthe museum community to consider other alternatives. These included CCO,which provided guidance for how to structure elements and encouraged theuse of common data values from controlled vocabularies. CDWA Lite wasalso introduced and included fewer categories than its predecessor while stillrelying on the widely adopted CDWA framework. CDWA Lite was promotedto facilitate easier sharing between institutions (Elings & Waibel, 2007). Avariety of other standards have been used as well, as described later in thisarticle.

    Encoded Archival Description (EAD)

    EAD was developed by the archival community and consists of a set of dataelements selected by archival professionals to create digital representationsof finding aids, which provide an overview of an archival collection within a

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  • 54 J. Skinner

    single document (McCrory & Russell, 2005; Smith, 2008; White, 2002).2 Thetechnology underlying EAD is standard generalized markup language andXML. EAD is the main international standard for encoding such documentsin XML (McCrory & Russell, 2005). Although EAD has risen to prominence,Yakel and Kims 2005 study found that diffusion was slow, with only 42% oftheir survey respondents utilizing it in descriptive programs at that time.3

    EAD was mainly developed to move the finding aid model into anonline environment. Much of the work has focused on implementation anduser behavior (Wisser & Dean, 2013), although articles on other aspects ofEAD have been published as well. Early work on the subject (Meissner, 1997)encouraged repositories to use the implementation of EAD as an opportunityto reengineer their finding aids, instead of simply dragging and droppingexisting finding aids into a system without thoughtful analysis. Early articleson EAD (Bouche, 1997; Dow, 1997; Hensen, 1997; Kiesling, 1997; Lacy &Mitchell, 1997; Morris, 1997; Pitti, 1997) found it promising, even when theauthors tackled previously unanswered questions or located issues associatedwith implementation. More recent articles (e.g., Prom, 2001; Wisser & Dean,2013) found EAD to be continuously useful in the archival setting, althoughall encouraged ongoing evaluation and retooling as needed.

    EAD does not dictate how to fill data elements, meaning that institu-tions can draw from a variety of data structures (e.g., Dublin Core, CDWA)depending on their needs (White, 2002). The structure of EAD is hierarchi-cal, with subelements nested within higher-order elements (Thurman, 2005).Cornish (2004) argued that using native XML technology would make it eas-ier to migrate records in the future and overall it has more benefits whencompared to other approaches (e.g., TextM

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