Anna Neatrour is the Digital Metadata Librarian at the Mountain West Digital Library. In that capacity she works with libraries across the western states to support description and discovery of digital collections.
In this post, Anna describes one of her typical days as a metadata librarian aggregating data on a regional level and as a Service Hub with DPLA.
What does a Metadata Librarian do? The over ten million records in the Digital Public Library of America represent the work of countless people collecting, digitizing, and describing unique cultural heritage items. Mountain West Digital Library provides access to over 900,000 records, or about 10% of DPLA’s total collection. So, what does it take to be a metadata services librarian at a large DPLA service hub? Let’s find out.
8:30-10:30. Evaluate New Collections
I evaluate new collections from partners throughout Utah, Idaho, Montana, Arizona, and Nevada, and harvest their metadata into the Mountain West Digital Library. The MWDL has a well-established Metadata Application Profile, and I check new collections for conformance with the MWDL community’s shared expectations for descriptive metadata. Sometimes there are adjustments a local collection manager will need to make to field mappings, or values in the metadata that need to be revised or added. MWDL runs on ExLibris’ Primo discovery system, and we harvest collections through OAI-PMH. This means that I spend time checking OAI streams prior to harvesting a new collection. For a new repository I’ll send the collection manager a detailed report with information about what to fix. For long-term, established partners of MWDL, I’ll fire off e-mails with quick suggestions.
10:30-12:00. MWDL Staff Meeting
Once a week, our team checks in about current projects, technical troubleshooting, and the status of new collections we are adding.
12:30-1:30. Web Page Updates for New Collections
I’ve been working recently on harvesting new collections from the University of Idaho Digital Library, which has a wonderfully eclectic collection of materials that covers a variety of topics including jazz history, forestry, and much more.
There’s some great graphic design in the Vandal Football Program Covers Collection, like this one which proclaims “Mashed Idahoes Comin’ Up!”
The International Jazz Collections at the University of Idaho are a unique resource, and many of the digitized materials from those collections are available in the DPLA, like this photo of Joe Williams and Count Basie from the Leonard Feather Jazz Collection.
We’ve also added great collections from the Arizona Memory Project, including the Petrified Forest Historic Photographs collection that adds to our existing materials on national parks and recreation in the region. My favorite item in this collection is photograph of Albert Einstein touring the park, a detail of which can be seen above in the header image for this post.
One of the things I enjoy the most about harvesting new collections into MWDL is seeing how the information available on a particular topic gets augmented and expanded as more items are digitized. For example, many MWDL partners have photos and documents that tell the story of the Saltair Resort on the shores of the Great Salt Lake.
We have many older photos documenting the history of the resort, but we recently added a selection of color photos from 1965, during the time period after the resort was abandoned, but before it was later destroyed by arson.
All of these collections from MWDL then combine to help researchers find even more resources on these topic in DPLA.
2:00-3:00. Virtual Meeting or Training Support
I enjoy working with librarians from different institutions across our multi-state region, which means meeting online. The meetings might center on the activities of a MWDL Task Force or time with a librarian needing support.
3:00-4:00 Technical Troubleshooting
I check harvested collections after they are imported/ingested into Primo and troubleshoot any issues when necessary. This means checking the PNX (Primo Normalized XML) records in our discovery system to make sure that the harvested metadata will display correctly, and also be available for DPLA to harvest.
4:00-5:30 PLPP Partner Support
MWDL is one of the four service hubs working on the Public Libraries Partnerships Project, and while we support all our partners, we are spending extra time helping public librarians who are new to digitization get their first collections online!
Sharing the digital collections regionally at mwdl.org and nationally through DPLA is extremely rewarding. The next time you find a cool digital item in DPLA, thank your local metadata librarian!
Featured image: Detail of Dr. and Mrs. Albert Einstein visit Rainbow Forest, date unknown. Courtesy of the National Park Service (AZ) via the Arizona Memory Project and Mountain West Digital Library.
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