I just finished my MLIS degree at Louisiana State University and went
through two courses where metadata and XML were covered in great detail. The
first course (electronic description of archival materials) covered TEI,
MARC, and EAD and taught us the basic rules and basic applications of XML
and then how to apply DACS to EAD (among many other things). The second
course (metadata and markup) covered some metadata schemes--OAI, PREMIS,
MODS, METS, others--and then also taught us the basics of writing our own
DTD, programming in XSLT, and the basics of creating XML schemas.
After the course was finished, our instructor asked us our thoughts on the
next time the course is offered. The thoughts below are mostly mine, but
it's been long enough since the course meeting that I may be interjecting my
classmates' thoughts into mine (I've thought about this since then) and I
apologize for any of that that is not credited to them.
I suggested that the course be offered again as a lecture/lab component and
also try to include 1) archives students, 2) digital libraries students, and
3) cataloging students. The suggestion was that the instructor give one
hour of lecture and then have two hours of lab (or whatever you university
requires in such situations). For instance, the first course can cover the
basic rules of XML and then have the students create a basic well-formed XML
document without a DTD or schema. When the course really gets into the meat
of things, you can teach them the use of schemas and then have the archives
students use EAD, the digital libraries students use MODS/METS, and the
cataloging students use MARC-XML, thereby giving them all experience in
using schemas but each in the area in which they want to practice. My
premise here was that catalogers are increasingly using MARC-XML but not
many catalogers may have a need when in the real world of work to use EAD.
Make sure the course covers all that needs to be covered, but make the lab
situation specific to the type of student taking the course. If you have
some computer science students, then maybe have them create a DTD or schema.
One other thing I came away from in the second course I took was that it was
great to know how to create a DTD and schema, but that is already done for
archivists who will use EAD, EAC, and EAG. All we archivists have to know
is how to use them. In other words, technical creation versus technical use
is a consideration you have to take into account.
I hope this helps.
Russell D. James, MA, MLIS
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