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Metadata best practices

Purpose

Metadata provides the primary means for accessing the wide variety of materials accessible in DLESE. Creating robust metadata records requires knowledge of:

  • The content of the resource being cataloged
  • The correct metadata format and its required fields

This document, developed with input from the community and DLESE metadata specialists, provides guidelines and checklists to help in the generation of metadata records that are effective and efficient for library use. This document describes:

  • Metadata quality guidelines
  • Cataloging best practices
  • Individual record checks

Metadata quality guidelines

  • Metadata meets the cataloging best practices
  • Metadata does not use placeholder vocabulary values (e.g. 'To be supplied') unless appropriate or agreed upon in advance
  • For metadata fields with controlled vocabularies (e.g. resource type), the vocabularies are used correctly
  • Records must have accurate accession dates to be displayed in "What's new in the library"
  • Metadata content meets the intended use of the field
  • Acronyms and abbreviations are spelled out, particularly in descriptions and titles
  • The general description of the object being cataloged uses complete and well-written sentences that are understandable to a library user
  • The metadata content avoids redundant information. For example, resource creator and technical information should not be repeated in the description
  • Correct spelling is used throughout the metadata record
  • Metadata descriptions are objective and free of evaluative information or testimonials about the resource

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Cataloging best practices

Currently, the cataloging best practices are in a separate document and cover only a limited number of metadata fields. For these fields, the cataloging best practices provide:

  • Metadata field definitions
  • Controlled vocabularies and definitions
  • Things to do to complete each field
  • Things to avoid in completing each field
  • Examples

Individual record checks

These checks are performed on metadata records.

  • Records are in XML (eXtensible Markup Language)
  • Catalogued URLs within a collection are unique (the cataloged URL is only cataloged once - not duplicated in another record; must be 0% errors to pass)
  • Catalog record numbers or ID numbers are unique in DLESE (i.e. no other metadata records use the same catalog record number, must be 0% errors to pass)
  • Records are in the correct metadata format or records can be put into the correct metadata format by using a common transform (change from one metadata format to another) provided by the DLESE Program Center (DPC) or some other mutually agreed upon programming method
  • Records have the appropriate required metadata for the particular metadata format (please see collection types for links to the appropriate metadata format that describes required metadata fields)
  • Records are free of non-alphanumeric characters or such characters have been properly XML-encoded in UTF-8 (Unicode Transformation Format) (must be 0% errors to pass)
  • Records are free of transform errors if metadata records need to be transformed to an appropriate DLESE metadata format (must be 0% errors to pass)
  • Records are valid XML (enforces controlled vocabularies and required metadata and must be 0% failure to pass)
  • The content the metadata refers to is accessible (not hidden behind a fee-based or password protected system)

Guidelines and best practices information

The DLESE Collections Accessioning Taskforce provides oversight for all guidelines and best practices.

Credits

The guidelines are a result of direct work experiences with collections builders and the DLESE metadata workshop in March 2004.

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Last updated: 4-08-04
Maintained by: Katy Ginger (support@dlese.org), DLESE Metadata