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Tulane University Digital Library Metadata Guidelines

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

Basics about Format

Formatting information includes descriptions of the format of the digital object (which may be a surrogate created for upload and display online) and information about the physical manifestation (if the original object was analog). Each of the following should be recorded in their own column. Depending on the software you are using, they may be able to be created in an automated fashion from the contents of other columns. For more information, contact your metadata librarian.

Describing the conceptual or analog object

Type of Resource
  • This field is required.
  • Use the drop down menu to select an authorized value characterizing the resource’s format. (These values will be customized depending on the requirements of the schema planned for the project).
  • Authorized values in MODS: text; cartographic; notated music; sound recording; sound recording-musical; sound recording-nonmusical; still image; moving image; three dimensional object; software, multimedia; and mixed material.
  • Authorized values in RDA: cartographic dataset, cartographic image, cartographic moving image, cartographic tactile image, cartographic tactile three-dimensional form, cartographic three-dimensional form, computer dataset, computer program, notated movement, notated music, performed music, sounds, spoken word, still image, tactile image, tactile notated movement, tactile notated music, tactile text, tactile three-dimensional form, text, three-dimensional form, three-dimensional moving image, two-dimensional moving image
  • Use all lowercase letters without punctuation.
  • This field is recommended.
  • Enter a term for the genre of the resource that describes both form and aspects of the content that affect meaning.
  • Examples: Instead of “photographs” (form term) use a genre term such as “photobooks”, “aerial photographs”, or “globes.”
  • More precise descriptions (e.g. “Silver gelatin print” or “Oil on canvas”) can optionally be entered in an added column/field with the header “Medium”.
  • Use of LCGFT for this field is currently preferred, but other vocabularies are allowed as long as they are on the Subject Heading and Term Source Codes. A local master list is being developed by the LDC advisory committee. To add a term to the list, contact the metadata librarian.
  • This field is recommended.
  • Enter a generic term for the form of the resource.
  • Examples: “photographs”; “personal correspondence”; “paintings (visual works)”; “theses”
  • Use the subset of locally-authorized AAT for this field; to add a term to the list, contact the metadata librarian.
  • Alternatively, use a term from the MARC Form of Item Term List (MARCFORM).
Physical Extent
  • This field is optional and repeatable.
  • Enter the physical dimensions of the original object. Optionally, include further details in parentheses, including duration information.
  • Example: "6.2 x 12.4 cm." or "1 sound disc (56 min.)"
  • Follow DACs 2.5 or RDA 3.4 Extent and 7.22 Duration when formatting contents.
Physical Description/Medium Note
  • This field is optional.
  • More precise descriptions than available in the controlled vocabulary for genre or form can be used in this field.
  • Examples: “Silver gelatin print” or “Oil on canvas”
  • Additionally, any of the contents usually placed inside a MARC 340 field, such as a material, configuration, measurements, recording technique, mount, book format, etc. can be included in a free form string.

Describing the digital object

Internet Media Type
  • This field is required.
  • Enter the file type of the digital object being described.
  • LDL member institutions are encouraged to use jp2, pdf, mp3, and mp4 formats for all resources.
  • Use all lowercase letters without punctuation
  • For object types not listed below, select a media type from the MIME Media Types list
Type of Object Value in Internet Media Type
JPEG2000 image/jp2
PDF application/pdf
MP3 audio files audio/mpeg
MP4 video files video/mp4
Reformatting quality
  • All items in the digital library have "access" as their reformatting quality, so no column needs to be created at this time.
Digital origin
  • All items in the digital library default to reformatted digital for their digital origin, indicating that it is a digital facsimile of an original physical object. If the collection includes born digital, digitized microfilm, or digitize other analog, please add a column and populate it with one of the four descriptions. 

About Format and Genre Information in MODS

Commonly Used MODS Encoding for Format and Genre Information

This data will be nested inside multiple top level elements. For clarity, much of the information above will be duplicated. However, as long as you follow the instructions above, the metadata librarian will be able to insure that your data is incorporated into the proper element described below.

  • Attributes: authority; authorityURI; valueURI; xml:lang; collection (yes); manuscript (yes); displayLabel; usage (primary); altRepGroup

  • No subelements; data is nested immediately inside the typeOfResource element

  • Authorized values in MODS: text; cartographic; notated music; sound recording; sound recording-musical; sound recording-nonmusical; still image; moving image; three dimensional object; software, multimedia; and mixed material.
  • The RDA elements that do not duplicate the MODS elements will be mapped to the MODS elements, highlighting the primary characteristic of the materials.


  • Attributes: lang; xml:lang; script; transliteration; authority; authorityURI; valueURI; type (examples: class, work type, or style); displayLabel

        usage (primary); altRepGroup



  •  Attributes: lang; xml:lang; script; transliteration; displayLabel; altRepGroup
  • Subelements:
    • form (Attributes: authority; authorityURI; valueURI; type (Examples: material, technique); lang; xml:lang; script; transliteration
    • reformattingQuality (access, preservation, replacement)
    • internetMediaType (Attributes: lang; xml:lang; script; transliteration)
    • extent (Attributes: supplied (yes); unit; lang; xml:lang; script; transliteration)
    • digitalOrigin (born digital, reformatted digital, digitized microfilm, digitized other analog)
    • note (Attributes: typeURI; xlink; lang; xml:lang; script; transliteration; displayLabel; type; ID); (For a list of implemented note types, see:
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