These are resources developed and adopted by the Queens Memory team to create and maintain our collaborative digital archives. Each article is dedicated to a different aspect of the program. Our intent is to make this information available to other organizations developing similar projects and also to students interested in our process.

Metadata Crosswalk

It is important to remember that you don’t have to use every field in a metadata standard. But you do have to use each field accurately so your records make sense next to other records created using the same fields. When a digital archive contains records using different metadata standards, it is important to create a map or “crosswalk” between the fields in each type of record. That is what we did for the Queens Memory database. If you click the link above, it will lead you to a crosswalk I developed with Julia Weist, the cataloger/programmer who configured the open source software, CollectiveAccess, for Queens Memory. If you use your web browser to zoom in for greater detail, you’ll see a series of columns for each type of record we create in the cataloging database, “maps,” “images,” etc. The challenge in creating this crosswalk was to decide first what metadata fields were important to capture based on three factors: 1. Cataloging standards at our two partnering institutions 2. Our best guess about what our users would want to know about records 3. The quantity of metadata we could afford to pay catalogers to generate for each record given our small budget Once we figured out what information was important, we had to unify our metadata across record types. Since Queens Library is the institution providing long-term preservation and we hope to someday get records from Queens Memory into their general catalog, we wanted to conform to their metadata standards. This meant creating VRA records for images and MARC records for everything else. The MARC and VRA records we create for Queens Memory are minimal compared to the detailed records using many more fields that the library’s catalogers create. This is fine as long as the fields that we do create, map correctly when Queens Library ingests them. You’ll notice three-digit numbers next to many of the field names – these are MARC field numbers. If you follow the same field from left to right across the page, you will see how the same information is captured in each record, but because we’re working with different kinds of materials and with different metadata standards, they might have slightly different names or different numbers. For example, the “300 Physical Description” field in records for maps, books, and news clippings (MARC) = “Recording Format” for oral history and wild sound recordings (MARC) = ” Material and Measurements” in image records (VRA) = the “Physical Description” field in the CollectiveAccess cataloger’s interface screen. By unifying these fields, we’re able to create a digital archives that gives users a consistent set of fields when they retrieve any record in the system. We provide Queens Memory catalogers with metadata field titles that are as consistent and descriptive as possible. And finally, we end up with records that will ingest correctly into the Queens Library catalog. by Natalie Milbrodt, November 6, 2011

Queens Memory Cataloger Guide

In developing Queens Memory, we had to provide our catalogers with rules to follow when creating new records to ensure consistency across the catalog. This guide provides detailed instructions for catalogers on how to create and manipulate records in our customized version of CollectiveAccess, the open source software we use. Our task in developing these cataloging rules was to select a set of standards that were appropriate for our project. Our first priority was to use Queens Library’s cataloging standards since QL would be the long-term repository for the records. Where there was not yet a policy to follow, we had to draw from standards adopted by professional associations and other institutions. A wonderful resource for finding standards is Jenn Riley’s Glossary of Metadata Standards. Our cataloger’s guide for the Queens Memory database (linked below) is constantly evolving as we encounter new situations and have to establish rules for how we want to catalog something similar in the future. by Natalie Milbrodt, (updated) December 29 2015

Timecode Outlines for Oral History Interviews

There is an ongoing debate among oral history practitioners about the value of creating transcripts for oral history collections. The Oral History Association has an excellent wiki article on this debate. Queens Memory considers each oral history recording an important historical record and has a policy of creating timecode outlines instead of transcriptions for our interviews. Timecode outlines summarize the topics discussed during the interview with their corresponding timecode “in” points. The timecode outline along with edited audio clips (generally one to three minutes in duration) are accessible on the public QM site. Full interviews are available upon request to researchers who can use the timecode outlines and a digital media player in the archives reading room to jump to sections of interest within the interview. by Natalie Milbrodt, November 14, 2011