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Metadata Requirements & Guidelines

Metadata records for objects in the Digital Commonwealth repository conform to the Metadata Object Description Schema (MODS) created by the Library of Congress. The MODS schema provides for robust description of items, and supports the use of a wide variety of controlled vocabularies and content standards.

Digital Commonwealth establishes minimum requirements for metadata records, but strongly encourages institutions to create descriptions that are as rich and complete as possible to facilitate effective searching and browsing. Because metadata records for the items will also subsequently become available in the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA), institutions should also be cognizant of the larger shared metadata environment and should tailor descriptions accordingly. See Best Practices for Shareable Metadata from the Digital Library Federation.

Please note that all metadata records held by the Digital Commonwealth system and harvested into DPLA will be made available under a Creative Commons CC0 license.

If your records are not in a repository-ready format, or if your institution has not yet created records for your items, Digital Commonwealth may be able to offer you options for metadata editing, crosswalking, and/or creation. Please review the materials on Digitization & Metadata Services.

Metadata Profile

A summary of the requirements for MODS records in the Digital Commonwealth repository -- including usage guidelines for elements, sub-elements, and attributes, as well as recommendations for when to apply content standards and controlled vocabularies -- is available upon request.

Metadata Template

A spreadsheet template that can be used to create metadata records conforming to the Digital Commonwealth metadata guidelines and used for batch upload of records and objects into the Digital Commonwealth repository is available upon request.

Controlled Vocabularies

Use of controlled values facilitates browsing, enhances searching, ensures data consistency, and facilitates sharing of records with other institutions. Digital Commonwealth strongly recommends the use of controlled vocabularies for subject headings, personal and corporate names, creator roles, format/genre terms, geographic entities, and languages. Recommended controlled vocabularies include:
Subject/Format Headings
Authorized Name Headings/Creator Roles
Geographic Headings

Cataloging Rules

Digital Commonwealth strongly recommends the use of formal cataloging rules, also known as content standards, to provide specific guidance on the choice and format of data for elements where applicable. The content standard chosen for each collection or project should be appropriate for the institution and the type of material being described. One standard should be chosen and used consistently for all records in a set. Some commonly used standards include:
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