That’s So Meta

Congratulations on reaching Thursday readers! This week I learned how to collect metadata. “That’s so meta,” you may be murmuring, and you would be correct. Metadata is data on data – how’s that for being meta? Metadata is important because it gives us information about the data that makes the documents we’ve digitized more accessible and easier for researchers to sort through. To collect metadata, we look at each document and record certain pieces of information about it, including its title, a brief description of its content, its contributors, recipients, the language it is in, and the dates referenced in the document. We also include the subject for each document, words that capture what the document describes and includes, like “dams” or “floods.” This way researchers who are interested in floods, for example, will have a much easier time finding the document than if it didn’t include that subject. Since I started the process this week I still have a long way to go before getting through all the documents, but it will happen, drop by drop, trickle by trickle.