Just the name “The Digital Public Library of America” sounds like an amazing concept in this technological age. So it should be no surprise that the biggest hurdle of this venture was also technological. The metadata.
That metadata becomes even more important when one considers that the DPLA doesn’t have its own archives—merely linking to other libraries and digital archives. So that information in metadata form truly has to communicate cross-platform while also accommodating the entities that are archiving the material.
Sound familiar? It just might. FYI uses that same approach when developing APIs. Creating an interface that uses a database—and metadata designed to make the most of that database.
Because without the metadata to guide them, how will readers navigate the two million archived books, images, and other media the DPLA has archived from other databases? Much like a viewer needing an EPG, a listings guide, or an API (with appropriately tagged metadata) to help them navigate the endless seas of programming.
So, the whole DPLA endeavor is wrapped up in metadata. Without it, the library would be far less functional and accessible. According to DPLA Executive Director Dan Cohen, they’ve built “a data model that is very rigorous and flexible.”
The biggest problem has been “duping” or the process of two caches of data describing the same item differently—creating duplicate records for the same item.
Again, sound familiar? Just like the DPLA, FYI faces that problem when creating entertainment listings or rights reports. FYI has a workflow that identifies and tracks these “duped” pieces of data. The DLPA is devoting considerable manpower behind this effort, too.