Ignoring Metadata Standards

When people ask me what metadata standard I follow for audiovisual materials, I gladly tell them, “None.”

I’ll clarify that much of the work I’ve done has been with physical collections that needed baseline item level information for selection and preservation planning, not for entry into an ILS, finding aid, or other system. That said, those standardized outcomes are not always desirable or necessary. Things like MARC or DublinCore are made for records to fit into existing software or for the easy sharing of data amongst systems — something not all institutions or collections need or want. And finding aids, finding aids are of limited use…well, okay, maybe of limited use outside of research institutions where users are accustomed to the format.

We must also consider the fact that the physical originals will go away, and there is limited benefit to a full record of that original except for any data that can be repurposed for a future digital surrogate. Regarding the original, all that really may be needed moving ahead is a note in the record for the new digital preservation master that documents the source. At the point of file generation much of the technical information for the object will be automatically generated.

Standards help create a common “language” amongst practitioners, or act as guidelines for practitioners who lack internal policies or training. However in certain areas standards lack significant adoption (or even do no exist) and cannot be relied upon entirely. My own metadata standard is based on years of experience seeing what information is and is not commonly annotated on non-commercial audiovisual materials, born out of a mix of pragmatism regarding that fact and for what information helps with preservation planning. So, look for the announcement of the inaugural RangerCore Congress coming your way soon.