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Tulane University Digital Library Metadata Guidelines

These guidelines were approved by the Digital Production Review Committee in September 2019.

About Structural Metadata

Structural metadata is one of the types of metadata, and it is most closely associated with the management of resources. It is commonly used to explain the internal organization of the resource and/or its relationship to other data. Structural metadata informs the display and navigation of digital resources. It may overlap with descriptive metadata (titles that indicate part numbers and names). It also often overlaps with technical and administrative metadata because managing resources over time requires understanding the internal structures of those resources and displaying multi-part works requires knowing what file interpretation is required for those parts. 

Examples of structural metadata are page numbers, collection name and location, parent item names and location, and related item names and locations. Details regarding the creation of structural metadata for inclusion in descriptive metadata files can be found under Technical and Administrative Metadata. The information below describes the structural metadata necessary for uploading items into CONTENTdm and Islandora 7.x, and briefly explains how that data is stored and used by the system. Additional information may be available in the documentation of the schema or platform being used for a particular metadata project.

Structural Metadata in Different Platforms

Best practices for describing structural metadata are often platform-dependent. 

In CONTENTdm items can be uploaded individually and manually reorganized into the preferred hierarchical structure. There are also detailed instructions and encoding requirements that allow uploading a single compound object or a batch of compound objects using text files. In Islandora most modules expect items to be contained in folders and for structural information to be conveyed by the alphanumeric order of the filenames in those folders. In both cases, the software creates the majority of the structural information it uses in an alternate schema and separate metadata workflow.

There are metadata schema that were created with the intention of describing hierarchical structural information (PREMIS, EAD), but those are not currently used at Tulane, and as such are not described in this guide. Instead, this guide describes required, recommended, and optional structural metadata necessary in nearly any schema. It is platform-agnostic and aims to provide content providers with standards any data refiner or programmer could use to recreate the structure of the objects. The expectation is that programmers and metadata librarians will be able to refine or restructure this data according to the specific requirements of any current or future system architecture, but examples will be provided for software currently in use.

Basic guidelines for structural metadata in metadata spreadsheets

It is recommended that the metadata for all objects, whether compound or simple, be included in a single spreadsheet. Accompanying this spreadsheet should be one folder that contains all of the digital objects to be uploaded. If the collection will contain compound objects, each compound object's individual files should be grouped in a subfolder. Each row of the spreadsheet should represent one record. The first three columns of this spreadsheet should include the following structural metadata. 

1. In the first column, titled "Item", enter a sequential item number per record, beginning at 1 (such that each line is numbered in order, 1, 2, 3, 4…). This column is always required.

2. If a spreadsheet describes multiple objects and some of them are compound, the second column should be titled "Child". Enter into this column a secondary sequential item number, beginning at 01, per child item (such that each compound object has numbered children, 01, 02, 03…). Leave the cell blank if that row describes a simple object. If the entire collection contains only simple objects, this column may be omitted. This column is required if the collection includes compound objects.

3.  In the third column titled "Directory," enter the name of the folder the contains the file to be uploaded. For compound objects, this will be a subfolder. If the collection contains only simple objects, this column will usually contain only one folder name, but not always. This column is required, but may be populated for you. Contact Digital Publishing Initiatives or the Metadata Librarian to see if they can provide you the information for this column.

4. If a spreadsheet includes compound objects, each Child object is required to have the primary title of the parent object in a column titled "Parent Item Title".

Structural Metadata for Islandora

About Structural Metadata in Islandora

In Islandora virtually all structural metadata is created automatically during ingest. Islandora will also create an edit the necessary files to describe structural metadata if compound objects are created manually in Islandora, however this process is not recommended.

Structural metadata in Islandora is contained in separate datastreams and uses XML encoding and the Resource Description Framework (RDF). The two datastreams available are RELS-EXT and RELS-INT. RELS-INT describes datastreams that belong to an object and RELS-EXT describes the relationship between fedora objects (for example: collections, parent objects, child objects,  and related objects). These two datastreams are also automatically created or updated for resources in Islandora as updates, deletions, and other modifications to the structure are made...removing the need for a cataloger of metadata librarian to create or edit these files except in a very small number of special cases.

If a special circumstance requires it, RELS-EXT and RELS-INT Datastreams can be provided as part of a Fedora ingest file or added through a Fedora management service interface.

How to Transform Structural Metadata for Use in Islandora

How to Batch Ingest Files in Islandora below includes detailed information for some existing modules, and other methods are in development for batch uploading, including programmatic and automated methods. However, the process can be summarized in this way:

  1. A script will run that will create a copy of the upload folder provided. As it creates this copy, it will also rename each file based on the information provided in the spreadsheet. For example, a file named 2018_Resume.pdf and located inside of Folder 01 would be renamed [number in column 1] if column two in that row was "upload Folder/Folder 01" and the data located in the File Name column was "2018_Resume.pdf".
  2. A script will transform the metadata in each row into a MODS record and name that record [number in column 1].xml
  3. A script or a project manager would verify that there is an .xml file for every object being uploaded (and possibly a .txt transcript, thumbnail image, or other optional datastream). 
  4. Depending on the import method and file type, these files will be reorganized prior to upload.
  • Simple objects will be sorted by file type/Islandora module into new folders, within their identically named metadata files and possibly with other datastreams
  • Compound objects will be arranged into more complex file structures.
    • To use Islandora Compound Batch, a copy of the collection folder which includes only the remaining compound objects should be created. Within this folder, there must be an XML metadata file that corresponds to each compound object, and a subfolder for each compound object. Within these compound object folders, each child object must have a subfolder that contains no folders, an XML metadata file, and the object file. Each batch (or folder containing compound objects) should also include a structure.xml file. It can be created using an automated process, or it can be reorganized to make sure that the parts of the compound object are organized in a particular order.
    • To use Book or Newspaper batch, create a subfolder for each book or newspaper issue. Within this folder create subfolders for each page. Within the page folders, include:
    1. The image of the page itself
    2. an optional text file (can be the OCR, a transcript, or an index), and
    3. an xml MODS file that contains at minimum a title for the page

Regardless of which batch upload used,

  • The xml metadata files should be nested inside of the subfolder that contains the item they describe.
  • If the structural metadata follows the rules described in "Structural Metadata in Different Platforms," none of this work will need to be done by the submitter. It can be created by automated processes or by a Tulane librarian or staff member who specializes in Islandora.
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