Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Metadata and Consistency

Earlier today, Michael Joseph and I discussed cataloging and metadata for the collection of Suellen Glashausser artists' books. The discussion was inspired by my recent discovery of the online artist's book collection at the University of Wisconsin. I had performed a Google search on the keywords "digitizing artists books" and found some nice examples, but this collection appeared to be the best digital representation of the group. When I emailed Michael about it, I had suggested using it as a formatting template.

The way the books are displayed is very useful. The collection offers a variety of different views and image sizes, although the sizes aren't labeled. We started looking deeply at the metadata provided for a few of the books and found that the information provided was not consistent. Because this became immediately apparent after viewing the first three books in the collection, we began discussing exactly what we wanted to do about form and genre, as well as subjects within the metadata of our collection.

We wondered what the controlling agent was for the controlled vocabulary at the University of Wisconsin. Is there an "approved list" of metadata terms? Will we need to become indexers as well as catalogers in this process? I made a note to email the UW folks to ask them those questions directly.

Other topics we discussed at length included the following:

Form and genre: this would be one line in our system because there is such a blurring of the lines that takes place in artists' books that it would be best to just approach them both at the same time. Some examples of terms for that field would be "artists' books," "altered books," and "flexagon."

We also looked at one of the already-existing catalog records in IRIS for artists' books. To our dismay, however, many of the records were for books that we wouldn't classify as artists' books. Michael was able to find one for an artists' book in our collection that showed we need to include more information, particularly descriptive information rather than just what was included in IRIS. Additionally, I noted something helpful for another project I'm working on -- a proposed redesign of IRIS. We tried to follow a link to a cross reference named "cataloging of artists books" which did not reveal anything. Users also cannot search on either form or genre within IRIS.

I still have to sort out the images for our collection, because I discovered (via Michael's direction) that there is another folder of accompanying images that are superior in quality to the previous set of photos I had viewed.

It might be a good idea to start forming a project plan at this point.


University of Wisconsin Digital Collections. (2009). Artists' book collection. Retrieved from http://digital.library.wisc.edu/1711.dl/ArtistsBks.

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