As you may know, the OCLC Research Library Partnership Web Archiving Metadata Working Group (WAM) has been working for the past year to draft best practices for web archiving metadata—and voila, our draft report awaits your review.
The audience for these best practices includes librarians, archivists, and any others who create metadata for archived websites. Websites are idiosyncratic in form, structure, and presentation of metadata-worthy information, and these best practices will help practitioners make consistent decisions and thus increase the efficiency of their work.
Although WAM’s charge is to focus on web archiving rather than description of live websites, the report includes much that is relevant to the latter. Libraries and archives create metadata records for both single archived sites and collections of sites, each community employing its traditional standards and practices for cataloging and description. WAM’s best practice recommendations bridge the two approaches.
The WAM data dictionary is lean (fourteen elements) and can be used either on its own or in concert with library and archival standards that are far more granular. Data element names and definitions were adopted or adapted from existing standards whenever feasible to enhance compatibility. Each element includes a definition, usage guidelines and notes, brief crosswalks to relevant standards, and examples taken directly from extant metadata records.
These were our specific objectives:
- Prepare standards-neutral and community-neutral best practices for descriptive metadata for archived web content, taking into account the needs of end users and metadata practitioners.
- Develop a lean set of defined data elements (i.e., a data dictionary).
- Prepare usage notes to address the peculiarities and ambiguities of websites that have limited the value of existing standards for descriptive metadata.
- Ensure that the data elements can be used in concert with other standards that have far more granular data element sets.
- Ensure that the guidelines take into account both bibliographic and archival approaches to description.
- Recommend a sustainable approach that does not mandate in-depth description or extensive changes to records over time.
The deadline for comments is Friday 9 June; send to firstname.lastname@example.org. Our publication target date is toward the end of July.
Please forward the link to anyone who may be interested. We’re eager to have it reviewed as widely as possible by members of the web archiving and metadata communities to ensure that these best practices are as sound and useful as possible.
Thanks for your help!
Jackie Dooley retired in from OCLC in 2018. She led OCLC Research projects to inform and improve archives and special collections practice.