Describing Your Materials (Metadata Guidelines)

Contributing organizations can provide descriptive information (“metadata”) for materials submitted to DigitalNC.org. 

Here’s a simple metadata spreadsheet that partners can use if they would like to provide us with metadata. Note that only a few fields (with an *) are required, however providing date and location information, if known, greatly improves access to your materials.

Below are the metadata guidelines we use. Each field has a brief description, as well as a Dublin Core mapping, if there is one.  

Metadata Guidelines Field-by-Field

Some formats, like audiovisual items and oral histories, have additional fields. Contact us for a complete metadata list.

TitleRequired. A name given to the item. It is up to the contributor to decide how much information to include.
Dublin Core: Title
CreatorOrganizations or individuals that created or assembled the item. Names should be taken from the Library of Congress Name Authority File (LCNAF). If the name is not listed there, it should still be listed in LCNAF format.
Dublin Core: Creator
PublisherOrganizations or individuals that made the original item available. May include a name and location.
Dublin Core: Publisher
DescriptionNarrative description of the item. This free-text description can be as short or as long as necessary.
Dublin Core: Description
DatePoint or period of time associated with the creation of the item. This date field can include both words and numbers as necessary. For example, “circa 1950”, or “between 1980 and 1990”.
Dublin Core: None
Date (numeric)Point or period of time associated with the creation of the item. This date field can contain numbers only and will be used by the system to enable searching and sorting by date. If you know specific dates (as opposed to just years), list them in year, month, date (YYYY-MM-DD) format.
Dublin Core: Date.Created
LocationThis field should list the location depicted (if the item is an image) or the location from which a document or publication originated. Contributors are strongly encouraged to list the North Carolina county, whenever known.
Dublin Core: Coverage
Subject (Topic)Topical subject terms that describe the item. Use Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH).
Dublin Core: Subject
Subject (Name)This field is used for names of well-known individuals or organizations. Names should be taken from the Library of Congress Name Authority File (LCNAF). If the name is not listed there, it should still be listed in LCNAF format.
Dublin Core: Subject
Subject (Images)Topical subject terms that describe the image. Terms should be taken from the Thesaurus for Graphic Materials.
Dublin Core: Subject
Subject (Local)This field may be used for terms created for specific organizations and/or projects.
Dublin Core: None
TypeRequired. The nature or genre of the original item. Use the Dublin Core Type Vocabulary. For photographs, the term “Image” will always be included in this field. For text-based items, the term “Text” will always be included in this field.
Dublin Core: Type
FormatRequired. Describes the specific form of the item. Use the Art and Architecture Thesaurus. Contributors are encouraged to use the term “Photographs” for all photographic prints, as well as more specific terms when appropriate.
Dublin Core: Format
LanguageLanguage(s) of the original item.
Dublin Core: Language
DimensionsSize of the item. The dimensions used are up to the discretion of the contributor.
Dublin Core: Format.Extent
Digital CollectionRequired. Name of the digital collection on DigitalNC in which the item will be included, for example “Images of North Carolina” or “North Carolina Memory”.
Dublin Core: None
Contributing InstitutionRequired. Full name of the organization that contributed the original item.
Dublin Core: None
Collection in RepositoryThe name of any larger collections of which the item is a part.
Dublin Core: None
Item/Call NumberAny call number or item number associated with the original item.
Dublin Core: Identifier
Rights StatementRequired and provided by NCDHC staff. Statement describing what is known regarding the rights status of the item. Statements will be taken from RightsStatements.org.
Dublin Core: Rights
Usage StatementAny additional information that describes usage conditions of the item. 
Dublin Core: Rights
Contact InformationRequired. Contact information for the organization that holds the original item. Contributors are encouraged to use general addresses, rather than contact information for specific staff members.
Dublin Core: None
File NameRequired. The file name for the item being described.
Dublin Core: None

Sample Metadata Records

Group of men, women, and children processing cane for molasses.

Sample Image Record: Only Required Fields

TitleMaking ‘Lasses
TypeImage
FormatPhotographs
Digital CollectionImages of North Carolina
Contributing InstitutionHaywood County Public Library
Rights StatementNoC-US, No Copyright US 
Contact Information678 South Haywood Street, Waynesville, NC 28786 | 828-452-5169
Filenamehcpl_017-making molasses.tif

Sample Image Record: Fuller Description

TitleMaking ‘Lasses
CreatorMcCanless, S. A.
PublisherCumming, Baltimore, Md.
DescriptionMaking molasses in the Newfound Community.
Date1890s
Date (numeric)1890-1899
LocationHaywood County (N.C.)
Subject (Topic)Sugar–Manufacture and refining–North Carolina.
Molasses.
Subject (Images)Sugarcane
Sugar industry
Horses
Group portraits
TypeImage
FormatPhotographs; Group portraits
Dimensions8.5×6″
Digital CollectionImages of North Carolina
Contributing InstitutionHaywood County Public Library
Collection in RepositoryEdward J. McCauley Photographs (P082)
Item/Call NumberP082_14_144
Rights StatementNoC-US, No Copyright US 
Contact Information678 South Haywood Street, Waynesville, NC 28786 | 828-452-5169
Filenamehcpl_017-making molasses.tif

Sample Scrapbook Record

TitleFayetteville Technical Community College Scrapbook [1980-1981]
Date1980-1981
Date (numeric)1980-1981
LocationFayetteville (N.C.)
Cumberland County (N.C.)
Subject (Topic)Education–North Carolina–Cumberland County.
Universities and colleges–North Carolina–Fayetteville.
Subject (Topic)Fayetteville Technical Community College–History.
TypeText
FormatScrapbooks
LanguageEnglish
Digital CollectionNorth Carolina Memory
Contributing InstitutionFayetteville Technical Community College
Rights StatementCNE, Copyright Not Evaluated
Contact InformationEmail: library@faytechcc.edu / Phone: (910) 678-8247
Filenameftcc_07.pdf

Updated January 2023