[OAI-implementers] dc:title vs. dc:description for images

Riley, Jenn jenlrile at indiana.edu
Sat Aug 28 13:50:14 EDT 2004

Hello all-

I'm mapping metadata for an archival collection of digitized slides (the
collection is at <http://www.dlib.indiana.edu/collections/cushman/>)
from our native format to simple DC for exposure via our OAI data
provider, and I'm having trouble making a final decision about how to
deal with a dc:title vs. dc:description issue.

These slides are from a skilled amateur photographer, so they do not
have a "title," per se. They do have a very large amount of description
however, all provided by the original photographer - a description
written on the slide mount, plus similar but not identical descriptions
in between 1 and 3 small notebooks accomanying the slides. So we have
between 2 and 4 descriptive strings for each image, none of which can be
considered to be more authoritative or complete than another. I'm trying
to decide whether to put these strings in dc:title or dc:description

Option 1: Put all of them in dc:title. This means each DC record will
have up to 4 dc:title elements. I'm leaning strongly toward this
solution at the moment, mainly because I don't find any of the other
options satisfactory.

Option 2: Put all of them in dc:description. This is from a pure
metadata standpoint the best solution - these strings are all really
descriptions, rather than formal titles. However, this would result in
NO dc:title element for these records. Since service providers rely so
heavily on dc:title for intelligible display of records, I'm extremely
hesitant to use this solution.

Option 3a: Pick one of the strings to put in dc:title and put the rest
in dc:description. If we were to do this, I suppose the description from
the slide mount would go in dc:title, since there's only ever 1 of
these, but I really don't like this solution. There's no reason to
prefer this description over the ones from the notebooks - in fact, the
descriptions in the notebooks were written when the picture was taken
(the slide mounts obviously were written after the film was developed!)
and the notebook descriptions weren't subject to space considerations as
the slide mount descriptions were. But there's no reason to pick any of
the 3 possible notebook descriptions over any of the others so there's
no good way to pick one of them for dc:title either.

Option 3b: Pick one of the strings to put in dc:title and put all of
them in dc:description. Same as above, but duplicate the value in
dc:title in dc:description. I don't like this solution for the same
reasons as 3a, above.

Option 4: Create a generic title for each record (something like
"Charles W. Cushman slide") and put all the descriptive strings in
dc:description. Although I'm a librarian and we construct "titles" for
unpublished materials all the time, I *really* don't like this solution.
There are 15,000 slides in the collection, so if a user's search came up
with more than one record from this collection, a display listing titles
would be extremely UN-useful. Also, we have a strong commitment in this
collection to preserve the photographer's original words, so I'd like to
find a way to make these what users see in search results.

I do plan to expose at least one other more robust metadata format for
these records, so hopefully some service providers will be able to see
and maintain the complex nature  of this issue, but I still want to make
sure that our simple DC is intelligible for service providers who will
only use that metadata format.

So does anyone out there have advice on this issue? Is there a pervasive
practice out there by service providers to use a dc:description for
display when there's no dc:title? What have other data providers done
when dealing with unpublished material with multiple possible "titles"?


Jenn Riley
Metadata Librarian
Digital Library Program
Indiana University - Bloomington
Main Library E170
(812) 856-5759

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