In case it snows…. (email reprint)

Here’s the text of my email as a blog post, in case it snows…

Dear class,

In case our class tomorrow isn’t cancelled by the snow – and since getting the special collections out is a big deal, I hope we aren’t – here is some information:

Location. Remember, we are meeting in the Digital Humanities Lab, which is in the back of the Translation Center (Room 19G); basement level of the Herter Annex. Please be on time.

Assignments. Based on your preferences, and the absence of preference for those who did not reply, here are your assignments for tomorrow:

Berenson,Stephanie Sarah Metadata
Brown,Shelby Elizabeth Scanning
Daborowski,Kate Victoria Metadata
Dietz,Daniel Matthew Metadata
Esten,Emily Elisabeth Scanning
Guhl,Celeste Rose OCR
Kelly,Brendan Paul Metadata
Klinkhamer,Emma Jessica Metadata
Kozikis,Sabrina Rose Editing
Morgan,Brandon Daniel OCR
Nadeau,Elizabeth Frances Editing
Pleasant,Evan James Metadata
Seibert,Elizabeth Abigail Metadata
Tippareddy,Charit Reddy Metadata

If you are assigned to scanning, you should watch this video:

If you are assigned to editing, you should watch this video:

If you are assigned to OCR, you should watch this video:

If you are assigned to metadata, you should read the following and follow (but don’t stress over) the link:

my basic suggestions for metadata:

* Identifier (a unique id for the object. Ideally, this number is also included in the file names for the scanned items so it’s possible to connect all the files for a single letter, for example, to the single metadata record that describes it)

* Title (everything needs a title! Standard practice is capitalizing only the first word and proper nouns and leaving the rest of the title lowercase)

* Creator (who created this object? E.g., who wrote the letter, what department produced the memo, who took the photograph... This isn’t required but if it’s known, it’s important to include).

* Description (This one isn’t really necessary but it can be critical for discoverability and is an opportunity to provide needed context for the object)

* Rights (Some kind of rights statement. In this case, we use the following statement approved by University Counsel: "All rights for this image are held by the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Requests to publish, redistribute, or replicate this material should be addressed to Special Collections and University Archives, University of Massachusetts Amherst Libraries.”) 

Some additional info that might be of interest:

* Location: this can either be a place name or geographic coordinates or both! A location could be useful for geo visualization but since this Old Chapel material isn’t geographically diverse, it may not be worth adding.

* Format/Genre: Is it a letter, photograph, memo, map…? Might be useful if you want to limit a display by format, e.g. show me all the photographs.

This should be enough to get you started . If you're curious, all of our best practices for metadata creation are documented here: 

I can’t stress enough, however, the importance of thinking out a scheme for file naming before you start digitizing. File names should be unique but they should also help us tie all the relevant files together. Here’s an example from the W. E. B. Du Bois Papers:


This is a three page letter with descriptive metadata, a TEI transcription, and three TIFF image files. The unique ID mums312-b001-i001 ties them all together.

See you tomorrow! (or not)



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s