One of Omeka’s strengths is how it handles metadata – the data about the data that allows it to be searched and found. Omeka has Dublin Core built in as the default metadata setting, although it is possible to also use other metadata systems on Omeka.
The Dublin Core Metadata Element Set is a vocabulary of fifteen properties for
use in resource description. The name “Dublin” is due to its origin at a 1995 invitational workshop in Dublin, Ohio; “core” because its elements are broad and generic, usable for describing a wide range of resources.
There is a certain amount of flexibility in how one interprets each element of Dublin Core – which is a strength but also a challenge for someone trying to learn how to use it! Figuring out what is an appropriate entry for the Subject element or Type or any of the other elements can be perplexing.
In many ways I have been learning by doing, reviewing and then, hopefully, doing better.
I set up the Omeka site at the end of September and proceeded to upload newly scanned items to the site. I quickly ran out of storage space, which was rectified by linking the Omeka site to Amazon S3 storage – see my blog post about this process here.
The process I engaged in was to scan the items and then immediately upload them to the Omeka site – this enabled me to easily access the information about each item (as it was literally in my hand) and to enter this information into the Dublin Core elements. (The process was somewhat different for items which had been photographed or scanned prior to setting up the Omeka site).
A meeting in November 2015 in UCC with the Digital Repository of Ireland (DRI) led to helpful engagement with Rebecca Grant, the Digital Archivist with the DRI. Rebecca reviewed the Dublin Core on the Cork LGBT Archive site and provided helpful advice and assistance, for which I am very grateful.
One ‘mistake’ I had been making was to include metadata about both the physical item (e.g. the leaflet) and the digital version of this item (the JPEG of the scan) together. This is contrary to the One-to-One principal of Dublin Core – metadata should refer to either the digitised surrogate, or the original physical record, but preferably not both. I now prioritise the metadata about the original item, and include information about the digital item and process (the technical metadata) in an repeat description element to ensure that this information is not lost. Further information on technical metadata can be found here.
I will now go through some of the key Dublin Core elements and how I am approaching them for the Cork LGBT Archive. I’m sure this will continue to change and evolve as I learn more and as the archive develops further. Some of these elements are mandatory for anyone wanting to deposit items to the Digital Repository of Ireland (DRI), some are recommended and some are optional.
TITLE: (DRI Mandatory) – this is the name given to the resource, the name by which it is known. It is possible to repeat the Title element to include multiple or alternative titles – click on the Add Input button below the Title.
SUBJECT: (DRI Recommended) – this refers to the topic of the content of the resource and will usually contain key words or phrases. It is usually recommended that one use a controlled vocabulary, such as the Library of Congress controlled vocabulary. There is a Library of Congress Suggests Omeka Plugin which I installed on my Omkea site. This is useful, but there are challenges for using it for an Irish LGBT project.
A search for LGBT in the Library of Congress subject headings brought me to a label: Sexual Minorities – not the most respectful or inclusive of labels! Under this label were lists of variants and narrower terms, including non-heterosexual people, sexual dissidents and sexual minority woman / man. I certainly would not be comfortable, politically or personally, in referring to people as sexual minority men or sexual minority women or in defining LGBT people as non-heterosexual people or sexual dissidents. There were some terms, such as LGBT people, that I could use and additional lists were to be found using a search of the individual terms of lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.
An additional problem with the Library of Congress (LoC) controlled vocabulary is that, while it does contain suggested forms for LGBT organisations, these are predominantly from the USA, with few, if any, Irish LGBT organisations included. The best I can do is to try to format the names of the Irish LGBT organisations in a similar way to the US ones included in the LoC. I am currently drawing up a list of the Cork organisations which will be used in the Cork LGBT Digital Archive.
DESCRIPTION: (DRI Mandatory) – This element is for a description of the resource and what is in it. This can be a detailed as you want. It is useful to let people engaging with the archive know what is in each item and if they want to explore them further.
As mentioned above, I include a repeat description box in which I provide information about the digital resource and process (the main description box relates to the original object).
TYPE: (DRI Mandatory) – This refers to the nature or genre of the content of the resource. It is recommended to use a term from a controlled vocabulary such as the Dublin Core Metadata Initiative (DCMI) vocabulary:
Collection Dataset Event Image
InteractiveResource MovingImage PhysicalObject
Service Software Sound StillImage Text
I am using this DCMI vocabulary in the Cork LGBT Archive but I am also adding an additional Type box with information which relates to the kind of item it is, for example a Letter, Leaflet, Poster, Newsletter etc. I am drawing up a list of terms to be used in this additional Type box.
SOURCE: (DRI Recommended) – This refers to a resource from which the item comes. In the Cork LGBT Archive this will usually refer to the Arthur Leahy Collection from which most of the items come. The physical collection is currently being sorted and catalogued. Once this is complete a full reference to the box and catalogue number will be included.
COVERAGE: (DRI Recommended) – This usually refers to Place and Time (spatial and temporal elements).
For Time I am using the International Standards ISO 8601 format: YYYY-MM-DD (or YYYY or YYYY-MM) e.g. 2015-11-27
For Place I am using the IGIA (Irish Guidelines for Indexing Archives) for Place Names – e.g. Cork City, County Cork
For Ireland I am using the International Standards Country Code ISO 3166 – For Ireland this is IE or IRL
CREATOR: (DRI Mandatory) – This is the person or organisation that created the resource.
For Person, I am using IGIA guidelines for Personal Names: surname, forename, dates (e.g. Egan, Orla, 1966-)
For Organisation,I am using the IGIA guidelines for Corporate Name Corporate Names: Formal name, Dates of existence (year only). I will cross-reference this with the list of Cork / Irish LGBT organisations I am creating.
DCMI provide some useful advice about the Creator element: “If the Creator and Publisher are the same, do not repeat the name in the Publisher area. If the nature of the responsibility is ambiguous, the recommended practice is to use Publisher for organizations, and Creator for individuals. In cases of lesser or ambiguous responsibility, other than creation, use Contributor.”
RIGHTS: – (DRI Mandatory) – This element contains information about copyright, right to use etc. as well as how the resource can be used by others. It can be a textual statement or a link to a URL of a rights statement or a combination of both.
I have chosen to include a statement about rights as follows:
“Digitising these community resources in a publicly accessible digital archive can be seen as fair dealing and reasonable use of these materials (as defined in the 2000 Irish Copyright Act) and in keeping with the ethos and purpose with which they were produced. In addition to this, Permission to Use has been granted by the owners of the collections and by the relevant community organisations. Items in this digital archive are covered by a Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No-Derivatives License. Please credit Orla Egan, Cork LGBT Archive and provide a link back to this site.”
In order to add the above information to all the existing items, I installed the Bulk Metadata Editor – this was developed by UC Santa Cruz University Library, following their work on developing the Grateful Dead Omeka site. This plugin allowed me to select the Rights Element and to delete the information already there and to add the above text to all the items already in the archive.
DATE: (DRI Mandatory) – It is recommended to use an internationally recognised standard for the Date. I am using the ISO 8601 format: YYYY-MM-DD (or YYYY or YYYY-MM). As the metadata relates to the original object, the date in the Cork LGBT Archive refers to the date the item was created, or the date of the event to which it refers. In some cases the items are undated but it is possible to accurately work out the date. In other cases an estimate of the date is possible. In these cases I use c. YYYY.
LANGUAGE: (DRI Recommended) – This refers to the language used in the resource. Again, an internationally recognised standard is recommended. I am using the ISO 639-2 codes for languages.
eng for English (alpha-3 code)
en for English (alpha-2 code)
gle for Irish (alpha-3 code)
ga for Irish (alpha-2 code)
Figuring out how to use Dublin Core properly for the Cork LGBT Digital Archive is a work in progress. The more I do, the more I learn. I hope that this post will be helpful to others trying to navigate this complex field.