One of the most work-intensive tasks for digital image collections is creating the image metadata. At UIC, this work was traditionally done by the archivists. We’ve recently expanded that workflow to engage catalogers.
This poster will showcase the new metadata workflow of one of our digital image collections, the Richard J Daley Era Photographs Collection, and discuss the changes in perspective and practice as catalogers shifted from books to images.
Unlike MARC catalog users, digital image collection users rarely look for a specific photo. They are more likely to have an interest in the overall subject matter of the collection, as opposed to a research need for one image only. Compared to a book, an image has relatively less information. When users find a photo of interest, they continue to explore among other images that meet their criteria. So our overall goal is to lead users to a large, relevant sets of search results that reveal the content of the collection, rather than to describe each image as accurately as possible as in book cataloging. Our metadata should be able to generate a browsable list of subjects to support the goal. The list should be brief enough for quick understanding.
The scale of image collections also required a change in perspective. With 13,000 images expected for this collection, catalogers had to adjust both their pace and focus on details. We expect this new collaboration to allow us to ramp up our overall scale of digitization.