The Project

The Story of Metadata (As Told Through GIF’s)

Last Friday, I officially uploaded items to the SDSU Digital Collections Database!


The collection, as it currently is in SDSU’s iBase, is only 100 items, most of which are newspapers at the moment. Composed of 10 folders (out of the hundreds) from various boxes, there are also numerous flyers, photographs, and other ephemera.

However, I am taking a moment to celebrate this modest achievement because it feels like a massive step for the project!giphy-1

Although I definitely took some time to enjoy the moment, it was quickly dampened by an aspect of this project I have never officially worked with before…



Lucky for me, though, Arel Lucas, metadata and digital collections specialist a.k.a. metadata extraordinaire, guided me through the early stages of metadata application.

Me, to Arel

Arel had pages and pages of information for me to read: from general metadata rules to a comprehensive chart of iBase’s metadata fields, not to mention the nearly 60 page dictionary of SDSU’s controlled vocabulary.


Although this amount of reading was slightly overwhelming at first, appropriate metadata that is consistent with previous collections is vital to ensuring discoverability of every item in this collection.

The importance of things like capitalization, punctuation, abbreviations, names, places, field format cannot be overstated. And, to ensure Katie, Arel, and Lisa don’t have to work twice as hard to correct my work, the initial round of metadata application needs to be both thorough and accurate.

Although Tyra looks fierce, this is exactly the opposite of what the metadata should look like.

So, at the moment, only about 10% of the total uploaded files have complete metadata– or as complete as it can reasonably be made without overwhelming the keyword and description fields.


Slowly but surely the project is coming along, and eventually I will be able to apply metadata much faster. But, for now, slow and steady is the name of the game.


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