In the last post relating to the AFF613A module for Special Topics in Digital Humanities at NUIM, I looked at a brief review of digital collections with political cartoons, and suggested that the metadata standards applied to digitised political/editorial cartoons is varied, and most likely dependent on the general metadata standards of the faculty/library involved. Moreover, I suggested that the provision of descriptive metadata in the reviewed collections was applied inconsistently, perhaps with the exception of the AAEC Editorial Cartoon Digital Collection. I found it interesting that the software used to manage the AAEC collection is CONTENTdm which uses Dublin Core as a metadata standard by default. Thus, I thought it might be worth investigating further whether CONTENTdm is a useful system for the purpose of the discovery and identification of digitised political cartoons in digital collections.
CONTENTdm is Digital Collection Management software. Various libraries, museums, and archives have adopted CONTENTdm to deliver their digitised content through digital collections, and while it “derives its default metadata scheme directly from Dublin Core, the application allows implementers to add locally defined unique metadata fields on a collection-by-collection basis” (Han et al. 216). According to Miller it is one of the “most widely used multipurpose software for digital collections” within the United States (Miller 16). In defining a digital collection, Miller proffers it as “a collection of digital resources, along with metadata about those resources, made available online through an interface that allows users to search and/or browse the contents of that collection” (Miller 6).
Following widespread user testability, CONTENTdm 6 version was released in 2011 with emphasis on a user-centred design to enable “a more intuitive experience for end users” in delivering digital collections (“OCLC Launches Redesigned CONTENTdm” 5; Land; Grunberg et al. 205). It is regarded as a useful tool for archives and libraries that have “no in-house technical support” (Kirkland qtd. in “OCLC Launches Redesigned CONTENTdm” Libraries 5), while it can also be customised to a more advanced level for institutions with technical expertise (Grunberg et al. 205). It is also noted as offering “simpler access to digital items, easier navigation paths, dynamic interaction with digital items, and multiple avenues for discovery” (“OCLC Launches Redesigned CONTENTdm” 5). It has the capability to extract “embedded image metadata” (Ibid.) and allows for the inclusion of “locally defined metadata fields and the freedom to then map or not map these local fields to Dublin Core however the implementer sees fit for purposes of metadata record export” (Hans et al. 214). According to Han et al. “no single metadata standard works for every digital collection”, therefore they add that “it is inevitable for collection curators to develop and use locally defined unique fields for collections in their local environments” (214). However, the use of local content fields also presents a challenge for regulating metadata records for the purpose of aggregation and interoperability. To this end, CONTENTdm also includes “OAI-PMH functionality” and this has been welcomed as “a boon to digital special collection curators and metadata aggregators alike” (Han et al. 217).
In a 2006 report, titled Contexts and Contributions: Building the Distributed Library, Brogan notes the importance of metadata aggregation, and adds: “[as] the digital content in repositories proliferates, efficient and consistent interoperability specifications are essential for effective downstream applications across a full spectrum of scholarly information arenas extending from e-research and e-learning to Web publishing and administrative computing (“Introduction”). The Open Archives Initiatives “develops and promotes interoperability standards that aim to facilitate the efficient dissemination of content” and is a defined by OAI-PMH as a “low-barrier mechanism for repository interoperability” (Open Archives Initiative Website). The Open Archives Initiatives Protocol for Metadata Harvesting (OAI-PMH) was released in 2001, and was co-funded in its early development by the Digital Library Federation (DLF), the Coalition for Networked Information (CNI) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) (Brogan “Introduction”). It has since “become a widely accepted, international harvesting protocol for sharing metadata between services” and is based on the open standards of Extensible Markup Language (XML) and Hypertext Transport Protocol (HTTP) (Brogan “Introduction”).
As part of the research for this module, I recently reviewed fifteen online digital collections with political cartoons for the purpose of examining indexing consistencies, and metadata application. From the sample review, I found that there appears to be no consistency for the descriptive indexing of digitised political cartoons and my findings are expressed in the chart below.
Interestingly, the sample review also revealed that four collection resources utilised CONTENTdm software, being the AAEC Editorial Cartoon Digital Collection, the Editorial Cartoons of Jay N. “Ding” Darling Collection, Penn State University Digital Collections, and Sykes Editorial Cartoon Collection. However, in evaluating these collections for the provision of descriptive metadata, and while this should not be deduced as conclusive, the chart below reveals that the use of CONTENTdm does not guarantee more consistency. Moreover, it appears to be a consequence of the manual annotation of descriptive metadata entered in the fields of such software which ensures that a political cartoon is described both objectively and subjectively to provide relevance and meaning. Nonetheless, software solutions such as CONTENTdm provide basic and customised options for faculties/institutions to describe their digital resources, through local fields which can then be mapped to Dublin Core metadata scheme, thus, I suggest that it is not a software issue, rather, I propose that it is a human issue in that political cartoons need to be described manually as visual communications, with both content and meaning.
- —. “CONTENTdm.” Brochure, OCLC, n.d. Web. 24 Apr. 2015.<http://www.oclc.org/content/dam/oclc/services/brochures/211472usb_contentdm.pdf>
- —. “OCLC Launches Redesigned CONTENTdm.” Advanced Technology Libraries 40.4 (2011): 5–5. EBSCOHost. Web 02 Mar. 2015.
- Brogan, Martha L. Contexts and Contributions: Building the Distributed Library. Washington D.C.: Digital Library Federation, 2006. Web. 14 Apr. 2015. <http://old.diglib.org/pubs/dlf106/#ack>
- Land, Jennifer. “CONTENTdm Review.” G2 Crowd. 01 Dec. 2014. Web. 14 May 2015. <https://www.g2crowd.com/survey_responses/contentdm-review-30087>
- Grunberg, Eve, Francesca Francis, and Jennifer Bazeley. “Sailing the Digital Seas: Charting a New Course with CONTENTdm.” The Serials Librarian 66.1-4 (2014): 204–211. Taylor and Francis+NEJM. Web. 14 May 2015.
- Han, Myung-Ja et al. “Metadata for Special Collections in CONTENTdm: How to Improve Interoperability of Unique Fields Through OAI-PMH.” Journal of Library Metadata 9.3-4 (2009): 213–238. Taylor and Francis+NEJM. Web. 14 Apr. 2015.
- Miller, Stephen J. Metadata for Digital Collections (How-to-Do-It Manual). Pap/Psc edition. London: Neal-Schumann Publishers, Inc. Series: How-To-Do-It Manual Series (for Librarians). Print.
- Skinner, Geoffrey. “CONTENTdm Review.” G2 Crowd. 03 Dec. 2015. Web. 02 May 2015. <https://www.g2crowd.com/survey_responses/contentdm-review-30230>