Using Metadata as Data for Enhanced Discovery and Access of Digital Archival Collections
Archivists and librarians dedicate a significant amount of time and exercise a large deal of personal judgement when creating metadata. As a result, the metadata we create and the standards that we choose to use not only tells us about our collections, but also about ourselves and our inherent biases and values. This presentation will focus on ways in which librarians and archivists can understand and use descriptive metadata as data to create data visualizations that foster enhanced discovery, access, and use of digital archival materials, as well as the caveats inherent in such an approach. To illustrate these points, I will describe a case study that I conducted with metadata from the Alabama Department of Archives and History’s Jim Peppler “Southern Courier” Collection of negatives and photographs (https://digital.archives.alabama.gov/digital/collection/peppler) taken for the “Southern Courier”, a newspaper with a diverse staff that sought to more objectively report on civil rights and social issues between 1965-1968. Creating data visualizations using the metadata allows metadata creators and users alike to engage with the descriptive information that variably is and is not present within library and archival collections and make unexpected connections and personal discoveries at the repository and collection level.