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Best Practices Guide


As part of our assignment we were required to create a Best Practices Guide so that anyone who wanted to add items to our website would know exactly what information was needed and how to enter it into the fields for the website.  This helps to keep the website not only looking clean, but it makes sure that the metadata necessary for helping others find the information is included in a form that is easily understood.


Our items are very unique and vastly different from one another, so it is difficult to use just one metadata standard.  We decided to use nine Cataloging of Culture Objects (CCO) elements to supplement the fifteen Dublin Core elements included on the Omeka website creation template.  We chose Cataloging Cultural Objects: A Guide to Describing Cultural Works and Their Images because it, "...is a manual for describing, documenting, and cataloging cultural works and their visual surrogates. The primary focus of CCO is art and architecture, including but not limited to paintings, sculpture, prints, manuscripts, photographs, built works, installations, and other visual media. CCO also covers many other types of cultural works, including archaeological sites, artifacts, and functional objects from the realm of material culture." (CCO website)  We felt that this variety of objects that CCO helps to describe fit perfectly for our items.  We used CCO as a guide for deciding what fields were required and for recommendations as to whether or not to use controlled vocabulary for certain fields.  Our final decisions on those matters were based on the objects themselves and the perceived needs of our collection, therefore some items required by CCO are only recommended for our purposes.

Below you will find a list of each element used to create our metadata, complete with a definition of each element and instructions about how to implement elements, as it pertains to book objects.


Dublin Core: *



Definition - A name given to the object.

Implementation - Not controlled and no punctuation other than comma’s where needed.  The first part of the Title should be capitalized but other than that, what is capitalized is up to the cataloger.  Required.


Definition: The topic(s) of the object.

Implementation: Controlled LCSH from this section of the Library of Congress website than from the traditional search page. The interface was easier to understand and more modern topics came up.  This was proved to be more relevant to what we are trying to describe since some of our items are non-traditional and novelty items.  Not required (due to the difficulty of finding subjects for such items like our novelty pillow) but is highly recommended. Please take the subjects just how they appear on LCSH including punctuation and capitalization.


Definition: An account of the object. 


Implementation: Not controlled and free style.  Some of the descriptions were taken directly from the source others were freestyle. If the description is taken from a source other than the original parent institution or where the digital representation is found then please list the URL or citation of the description you used in the Description Source field under Item Metadata.  Required.


Definition: The entity or entities primarily responsible for making the resource. (For example, the artist who created an artwork; the company that produced a game.)


Implementation: Not controlled since usually the artist or creator is unknown.  If the creator is unknown then 'Unknown' must be entered into the field with a capital letter and no punctuation.  Required.


Definition: The resource from which the described object is derived.



Implementation: This is the parent institution webpage (or the owner of the digital images) that we got all of our information from.  Please copy and then paste the URL of the parent institutions website.  In a couple of instances the links were dead almost immediately after finding them, this was usually the case for online EBay auctions, so the source is listed as the name of store that hosted the pictures, if available.  Required.



Definition: The party responsible for making the object available.



Implementation: Not controlled.  If we had a publisher then their name, address (if available), website URL (if available) was included in this field.  Not required since most of these are physical items and don’t have a publisher per se.



Implementation: We used our own date field in the Item Metadata section to conform to the CCO scheme.  Do not use.


Definition: The entity, or entities, that made contributions to the resource.  


Implementation: Not controlled and rarely is there a contributor.  But it can be filled in if there happens to be one. Not required.



Definition: Statement about the rights held over the object.

Implementation: The rights information was taken from each website as stated by the website unless there was no rights information.  If there was none, “No known copyright issues,” is used in this field.  Required.



Definition: Any object that directly relates.

Implementation: Not controlled and rarely used.  Could be used to link an object to another collection within the parent website.  Not required.





Definition: The physical medium or dimensions of the object. 

Implementation: Not controlled.  Most of our items are described in a free style manner.  All measurements are to be recorded in the 'Measurements' element found under 'Item Type Metadata,' and not here. Not required.


Definition: The language of the object.

Implementation: This element is rarely used, however one object, the Waddington's Lexicon, consists of cards written in English. We recommend in cases of language, to use the controlled vocabulary outlined in ISO 639.2 Code.(ISO 639.2 Code can be accessed here) Required only if the language is available, otherwise leave the field empty.


Definition: The nature of the object.

Implementation: We are creating metadata for the item itself, not the digital reproductions so the Type is always listed as 'Physical Item' in exactly that form.  Required.



Definition: A reference to an object within its given context (a museum accession number, sku code, etc.)

Implementation: We listed a museum or store number (if available) in the following format:  Museum Number (or Store Number) followed by an abbreviation using the first letters of the name of the organization (the is not included in the abbreviation and words like “of” are lower case) followed by a ':' and a single space followed by the number used by the museum or the shop.  For example for the Library of Congress locket the Identifier looks like this  “Museum Number LoC: AMB/TIN no. 2623 [P&P]” 


Then we included our own identifier for the website using the following format: An abbreviation of An Open Book using the first letters of each word followed by a number representing the order in which the item was entered (if it was the first item it would be listed as 1) followed by a ':' and a single space followed by the date in the format of month-day-year.  The identifier looks like this: "AOB 20: 4-20-2012"


Please use the same spacing and the same punctuation when creating your identifiers. Required.



Implementation: Not used.  Not required.



Item type metadata


This metadata includes the CCO** fields that we felt were needed for the best description of the item. 

Item Type:  

Definition: Created Item Type in Omeka this is not a CCO element. 

Implementation: Always choose Artifact from the drop down menu.  Required.

Description Source: 

Definition: A note that details the content and/or context of the object.

Implementation: Not required, but we left the field there in the event that if there was an item which had a different source for it’s description than the parent institution website.  For example, if we could have found the information for the cipher machine this field would have been used to document the source of the description.

Creation date(s):  

Definition: records the date (or range of dates) associated with the creation of the work or and the work's components. 

Implementation: Not controlled, but the date must be formatted consistently to allow retrieval. The creation date may simply be one single year. When a singe date is not given, or the exact year is not known, use 'ca.' If there is no date but you sure of the century, for example if you know it is a modern object so the field should look like this: 21st century.  Required.



Definition: information about the dimensions, size, scale, or weight of an object.

Implementation: We used both (standard and metrics systems) 'cm' and 'in' because some of our items are from the United States and some are from Europe.  We felt that our users could benefit from knowing both, and because measurements may be recorded according to different criteria; the format for writing measurements depends upon the type of worked being measured.


Always include standard and metric systems when the measurements for both are provided. When both systems are listed the data should be written with standard measurements first, and then metric measurements in parentheses. Because metadata records strive for consistency, it is necessary to follow a strict format, and make sure all measurements for the standard system are written in fractions, and make sure all measurements for the metric system are written in decimals.  For example, our Biscuit Tin measurements: 6 1/3 in x 6 1/3 in x 4 3/4 in; (16 cm x 16 cm x 12 cm). Required.


Note: All units of measurements should follow the practice of standards set by the USMA SI Guide.  Unless you have the actual item in hand and can measure it yourself, please use the measurements given by the parent institution even if only inches or centimeters is used.  We are unable to verify the measurements so it is always best to refer back to what the parent institution describes.


Definition: refers to the part of the object being measured. This is a sub-element of the Measurements element in CCO.

Implementation: Not controlled and contains information about the number of pieces of the item.  For example the Library of Congress locket contains 2 photographs in 1 case and 2 photographic prints in 1 case.  This lets us know that there are 4 photographic reproductions in 1 case but they are not all the same type of photographic reproduction. Not required but recommended if there are different pieces relating to the item. List the part of the object being measured, and then repeat measurements in parentheses. If no measurement is provided for the additional object(s) do not write anything after description.  See the Writing Desk for an example of this.


Current Location: 

Definition: the geographic location of the object, and the building or repository the currently houses the object, if applicable.

Implementation: Not controlled however, make sure to be as detailed as possible, including not only the repository's name and address, but also information as to where the object is located in the repository, where applicable.  For some of the novelty items when no location is available and for any other objects where no geographic information is known this is written in the field as 'Unknown'. Required.


Materials and Techniques:

Definition: The materials used to create an object, as well as any production or manufacturing methods utilized in the objects creation. 

Implementation: Required but sometimes it is unknown what the materials and techniques are, especially in the case of some of the novelty items.  So 'Unknown' is written in this field for those items. Materials and techniques are recorded together in our library for the ease of record creation and because our metadata does not call for complicated record creation (but they can be in separate fields if that is easier for the person entering the information). Controlled using the Art & Architecture Thesaurus implemented by the Getty Research Institute. (A&AT)

Creation Location:

Definition: the geographic location where the item was originally created.

Implementation: Not required but recommended if known.


Definition: A description of the chronology of the ownership or location of an object.

Implementation: Not required but recommended if known.

Exhibition History: 

Definition: A description of the chronology of the exhibits an object has been in.

Implementation: Not required but recommended if known.



Our Value Standards:


Here is a list of the controlled vocabularies we utilize:


LC Authorities: Used as control for Subject field.


ISO 639.2: Codes for the Representations of Names of Languages  


USMA SI Guide: United States Metric Association's Guide to the Use of the Metric System


Art & Architecture Thesaurus (Getty Research Institute): Used as control for Materials & Techniques field.




Physical objects in the form of a book will always be added to the Book Objects collection. Any other materials such as websites, much like our Cigar Boxes website, should be brought to our attention. These will then be added to our "Links" page and to their own "Collection" so that we may add photographs.  Required.



Use to upload digital photographs to the site.  But you have to be aware of copyright restrictions.  For example we could not use images from the V & A Museum because of their copyright restrictions.  We could only create links to the items' web pages within the V & A website.   Not required but recommended.



Tags:  See the Tagging guide on the website.




* To access a complete list of Dublin Core elements, and to read more definitions, please visit http://dublincore.org/documents/dces/ 


** To access a complete list of CCO elements, with fuller definitions and descriptions, please visit Cataloging Cultural Objects A Guide to Describing Cultural Works and Their Images