I am working on a small cultural heritage collection that features a few
scrapbooks and photo albums from the early to mid-1900s. This collection is
the first at our institution to utilize METS for complex objects. Given how
new we are to METS, we're still feeling out how to make best use of it -- as
well as cope with the limitations of our digital content management software.
For each scrapbook/album, I am creating METS records featuring two levels of
descriptive metadata: (1) a parent DMD for the object as a whole; and (2)
child DMDs for the many individual photos/drawings on the pages. Our grant
project is particularly fortunate to have a historian on board, which has
allowed us to create rich descriptive records for most individual photos in
albums and scrapbooks. Perhaps the most important feature of these records is
the identification of people in photos. These names are obviously best
captured in the child DMD for each photo, rather than the parent DMD.
I am curious how others working with similar materials are utilizing the many
descriptive metadata records within a single METS file. I would like to see
these records exploited to their fullest capacity for search and discovery,
but am unsure what would be the best scenario to make that happen. Our system
breaks METS objects into their many component objects. What this means for
resource discovery is that child objects as well as parent METS objects are
searched and retrieved. So a search that matches a child DMD will retrieve
that component image file and child DMD, as well as the entire METS object and
parent DMD. For those of you dealing with complex, image-based materials like
albums and scrapbooks, how are you allowing your many DMDs to be searched and
Given our specific software in mind, it looks as if our collection may have at
least three options:
1. Allow only parent DMDs to be searched/retrieved through resource discovery,
but allow child DMDs to be viewed as the user pages through the METS object as
This kind of functionality might be possible if we can deactivate
search/retrieval of child DMDs in our software. According to this scenario,
the child DMDs would *not* function as *access* points, but could provide
additional information if a user finds a particular photo/drawing for which
he/she would like more detail. One particular problem this raises is the
inability/difficulty of finding photos of specific people that are located in
albums/scrapbooks through the search interface. For example, if one searches
Roosevelt and a scrapbook contains a picture of Roosevelt, but that name is
only captured in a child DMD, resource discovery will not retrieve that image
2. Allow both parent and child DMDs (and corresponding objects) to be searched
This is the current functionality supported by our software. Using the
previous example of searching Roosevelt, this would result in both the
specific image of Roosevelt being retrieved (with this record indicating that
this child object is part of a particular scrapbook), as well as the scrapbook
as a whole. Even if the relationship to the parent is specified in the child
DMD, do you think this could be confusing for users?
3. Allow both parent and child DMDs to be searched, but retrieve only the
parent METS object.
Actually, I'm not even sure if this is possible in our software, but we can
always ask for enhancements, right?
Using the Roosevelt example again, this would result in the full scrapbook
being retrieved for this query. The parent DMD for the scrapbook, however,
mentions nothing of Roosevelt, so this might result in confusion/frustration
for the user. They might interpret this as a false hit or otherwise get tired
of paging through the scrapbook looking for a needle in a haystack, as it
Unfortunately, our software does not include functionality that would allow
the scrapbook to be retrieved but opened to the particular page on which
Roosevelt is pictured. This, to me, would be the best option, as access to
the individual item would be preserved, but the item would also never be
viewed outside its original context within the scrapbook.
Any comments/feedback on these options would be greatly appreciated. Do any
of these three sound better/worse than the others? Can anyone think of
alternative scenarios that would better utilize our metadata and facilitate
access to important pieces of a whole?
IMLS Funded Digital Collection:
"From Pi Beta Phi to Arrowmont"
John C. Hodges Library
University of Tennessee
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