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Digital Public Library of America’s Metadata Review

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  • 3 minutes read
  • Oct 10, 2020

I chose to review the metadata used in the Digital Public Library of America’s database, which I used in module #5.

What features of the digital objects does the metadata describe?

The metadata describes: Created Date, Description, Creator, Partner, Contributing Institution, Subjects, Location, Format, URL, and Rights

What features does it not describe?

On the Digital Public Library of America’s database it does not describe the original data source (where the item came from originally). It does not include the accession number or which collection the item comes from.

What questions does the metadata allow you to ask?

This metadata allows a user to ask a few different important questions about the item. It allows a user to ask who the creator was, when it was created, what it is (the description), the format, what are the rights and how can a user use this digital item? The metadata also allows a user to ask where is the physical location of this digital item and if it is currently on view or not. The metadata describes the partner(s) and the contributing institution(s) of the digital item, which allows a user to ask what the relationship of this digital item is to different organizations/institutions. The metadata also describes the location of the digital item which allows a user to ask the question of where has this item been used and where the item has been. This allows the user to build a provenance of the item for context. So a user can ask what is the provenance of this digital item with what the metadata describes.

What questions does it not allow you to ask?

It does not allow a user to ask the questions of where does this item come from originally, which institution this item comes from or the original data source. Along those lines, this metadata does not allow a user to ask which specific collection this item comes from or the specific accession number.


The metadata used in the Digital Public Library of America’s database allows users to gain a significant insight into the digital objects in their online database. The only major elements of the metadata that are lacking in this specific database is the original data source and specific accession numbers. The Digital Public Library of America allows users to ask numerous questions about the digital items through the use of the metadata available on their database. Overlooking the metadata on a database would be a mistake and a user would miss a significant number of important aspects of that digital object.

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