By: Amy Rushing
The UT Libraries Human Rights Documentation Initiative is proud to announce the publication of the first in a series of metadata documentation – Version 1.0 of the “Human Rights Documentation Initiative Metadata Guidelines for Video” (HRDI-MGV). The HRDI-MGV documents the fundamental principles behind our digital object lifecycle model and helps accomplish the following objectives:
- Basic level of consistency in the structure and encoding of digital content managed by the HRDI
- Interoperability among content from diverse partner organizations
- Management and preservation of digital content
- Access to digital content by internal and external users
- Standardized framework for digital object packaging, ingest, and transport
The HRDI team developed this metadata model to serve as a framework for the digital infrastructure needed to manage the full lifecycle of digital objects acquired through HRDI partnerships. Digital object lifecycle management consists of a combination of actions and processes applied to a digital entity from the point of conception to acquisition, description, arrangement, preservation, and access. We believe that documentation of the metadata model and guidelines on metadata creation comprise crucial components to the success of the HRDI project.
The HRDI engages a wide range of partner organizations, each with different local descriptive practices. At minimum, the HRDI-MGV intend to guide and increase consistency within local descriptive metadata practices of our contributing partners. Our objective is to provide and support a minimum baseline that can be met by any of our partners, while enabling them to leverage their local description. In keeping with our collaborative model, we work with contributing partners to transform any existing descriptive and source metadata to meet our specifications while still serving local needs. Through automated processes, UT Libraries/HRDI staff generates technical and preservation metadata upon receiving digital copies of the videos by contributing partners.
Practically speaking, the guidelines support the internal needs of the HRDI by defining the standards and components necessary to build a METS package for born-digital video acquired through our partners. To prepare files for ingest into the HRDI’s digital archive, we chose METS as the principal format for digital object packaging and use it in conjunction with the BagIt specification. The HRDI’s video METS packages conform to a METS application profile for video also developed by the HRDI team, which is fully described in the UTVideo METS Profile registered with the Library of Congress. The METS components defined in depth in the HRDI-MGV include:
- a set of descriptive fields that can be mapped to MODS or qualified Dublin Core
- local xml schemas developed by the UT Libraries for technical and source metadata
- PREMIS:event for preservation metadata
The HRDI utilizes the HRDI-MGV and the UTVideo METS Profile in tandem as part of the HRDI digital object lifecycle management strategy.
Video guidelines proved to be particularly challenging given the lack of existing guidelines and the technical aspects and issues unique to digital video. In developing our guidelines, we evaluated a variety of existing metadata standards and schemas by weighing them against the needs of the project, our users, our partners, and our overall strategy for managing digital objects. We consulted with our colleagues at other archival repositories of human rights documentation such as WITNESS, the Shoah Foundation, Columbia University, and CRL, and took into account their metadata strategies and requirements. Likewise, we talked to our partner organizations about the types of information that they capture or would like to capture. This evaluation and analysis, including the process of understanding the data we needed to describe and manage, the information use requirements of our audience, and the technical characteristics of digital video, was a time-consuming, yet necessary piece of the strategy. In our selection process, we looked for flexible and extensible standards that would be both easy to implement given our workflow as well as interoperable with other human rights documentation repositories. The decision to build our own source and technical schemas grew out of our need for simple, streamlined, and well-defined schemas that were context-independent and could easily be mapped to PBCore or the Library of Congress VIDEOMD.
As we head into our third year of the HRDI project, we will continue working on metadata guidelines for other formats collected by the HRDI, such as web sites and audio. These documents will be published in late 2011.
Special thanks to the HRDI Project Team and other UT Libraries staff members for their time, effort, and expertise that went into preparing the HRDI-MGV document: Summer Anderson (Graduate Research Assistant, UT School of Information), Aaron Choate (Head of Technology Integration Services), Ladd Hanson (Head of Library Systems) Christian Kelleher (Archivist of the Benson Latin American Collection and HRDI Project Manager), Anna Lamphear (Audiovisual Digitization Coordinator), Jennifer Lee (Head of Preservation Services), T-Kay Sangwand (Human Rights Archivist), Laura Satrum (Library Assistant II, Cataloging & Metadata Services), Kevin Wood (Senior Software Developer/Analyst).
Amy Rushing is Head Librarian of Digital Access Services, where she works on metadata policy and planning, digital stewardship, and digital curation for the University of Texas Libraries. Prior to coming to UT, Amy was Digital Access Archivist for Special Collections at the University of Arizona Libraries.