Metadata is data about data, regardless of what the data is about. If you think of the primary data as a library book, then the metadata is what you would find in the online catalog or, if we were time traveling, what was in the card catalog thirty or more years ago.
The catalog contains title, author, publisher and subject information. It will also offer the number of pages and size of the book and a call number where a user would find where the book is on a library shelf. It’s the data about the book. This interesting information came to us from NJ.com in their article, “More information on digitizing genealogy documents | Tracing Your Roots.”
In genealogy, descriptive metadata is the key. This is information that describes an image and makes it easier to find. But to make the metadata really useful, there needs to be some sort of database system that stores the images along with the metadata. This can be as simple as a spreadsheet or something more comprehensive like digital library software. This would allow storage of images and metadata for an organization, and provide a platform for users to search or browse items stored in the database.
In the end it is about findability; leaving breadcrumbs in an organized maze to find the data you need when you need it.
Melody K. Smith
Sponsored by Data Harmony, a unit of Access Innovations, the world leader in indexing and making content findable.