Metadata Talk at the Alabama Digital Humanities Center

Today I went to a talk on Metadata given by Mary Alexander at the University of Alabama Digital Humanities Center. She discussed how metadata was applied to two digital projects—one a collection of photos and the other a textual document archive.

The photographic collection, called the Black Belt 100 Lenses, was set up using Omeka with Dublin Core elements. This project incorporated crowdsourced tagging to aid in subject content description. The textual project, writings of a cloistered nun in Colombia during the 1600s, was encoded in XML with TEI standards. The digitization of the textual work will preserve writings not typically found and make this resource available for future research.

Ms. Alexander covered many topics we’ve discussed in class or in blog posts such as defining metadata, metadata and phone records, OAI metadata harvesting, and controlled vocabularies. She shared her process in creating metadata, starting with a spreadsheet and choosing elements first. She made the point that when assigning controlled vocabularies, it is better to be broad and certain than specific and wrong. The biggest take away was that the underlying metadata is what makes these digital projects possible.

It was a great talk, and I think all in our class would have followed along easily and realized how much we’ve learned about metadata.


One thought on “Metadata Talk at the Alabama Digital Humanities Center

  1. Reblogged this on on metadata and commented:
    In a recent post, a colleague described an Alabama Digital Humanities Brown Bag session with UA metadata librarian Mary Alexander. I also attended this talk, and found it refreshing to hear an overview of some of the major topics we have discussed in class this semester. To reiterate what Michele wrote in her post, we really have learned a lot in this short time!

    I found it interesting to hear a metadata librarian speak about the process of collaborating with humanities scholars, specifically mentioning issues in selecting and refining metadata schemas to fit distinct projects.

    One of the session participants was particularly interested in understanding how metadata could be used for textual analysis projects. Another participant mentioned an ongoing scholarly project at the Folger Shakespeare Library that utilizes metadata to facilitate scholarly analysis of Shakespeare’s works. For example, a scholar could take advantage of this metadata project to bring together all passages spoken by a single character in Shakespeare’s plays. Seeing as our class focused primarily on digital image repository metadata, I thought it would be interesting to look into this project a little further. I think the project referred to is Connecting Shakespeare (more info at

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