Museum Information Professionals: Essential Skills

Communication / Metadata & Cataloging / Copyright / Digital Preservation / Professional Development

Metadata & Cataloging

metadata is a love note to the future
“Metadata is a love note to the future.” #nypl_labs on Twitpic (via @kissane)

Metadata and cataloging are crucial skills for museum information professionals. Whether you are involved in traditional object cataloging, or creating metadata for digital media, describing data for future uses is at the core of what information professionals do. So You Want To Work in A Museum, (Marty, 2005)  aims to “provide guidance for LIS students who wish to pursue museum careers” Implementing metadata standards and evaluation information interfaces are listed as things that museum administrators are looking for more and more. One person interviewed, expressed a desire for more training on the more technical aspects of information tools including metadata, imaging, web tools, and information delivery.

[If I were in school today,] I would expect to be learning a lot about metadata and layers of description and I would expect to be learning about imaging and html and all of these tools that people need to know how to be able to know how to use in order to be effective in delivering information. In addition to the theories and cataloging standards and schools of thought about describing things, I think all those more theoretical aspects would be critical. I also think that library and information science schools, if they’re going to try to address museum needs, need to also be talking about the tools that you have to know how to use to deliver information.

Museums, libraries, visual resources collections all use metadata. Integrating the various standards among the fields is an ongoing challenge. (Elings & Waibel, 2007) Below are some of the resources for learning about metadata as well as practical applications and best practices.

intro to metadata

Introduction to Metadata, published by Getty Publications is a fantastic primer or a refresher for all things metadata.  The author Murtha Baca is head of digital art history at the Getty Research Institute and is involved in many other metadata projects.

metadata pomerantzAnother overview on the topic is Metadata published by the MIT Press. The author, Jeffrey Pomerantz, also teaches an introductory course on the subject through Coursera.

DAM_Book_Cover_Digital2The DAM book by Peter Krough is a practical how to guide in digital asset management for photographers. It provides a working definition of digital asset management, workflow tools and tips, and advice on selecting software. It describes why metadata is important from the perspective of a commercial photographer, though this applies to anyone working with image collections.

work-image4Metadata Deluxe includes many resources including basic artwork metadata guidelines . This website is maintained by members of the Visual Resources Association (VRA) with the goals of encouraging the use of descriptive and embedded metadata, reconciling various metadata standards, and developing open source tools to do so.