Embedded Metadata -- A Tool for Digital Excavation

Ana Cox


In June of 2012, I began the weighty task of searching the far reaches of Phoenix Art Museum's digital storage spaces to import images into a recently acquired collection management system, The Museum System (TMS). I excavated long forgotten folders on various servers and desktops, hunting for visual documentation of the art collection and past installations. Embedded metadata was used as a tool to identify images of art objects and indicate which folders and files had been searched. These assets were then reorganized with a new file and folder structure. A custom XML panel, developed by the Visual Resource Association Embedded Metadata Working Group, provided a pre-established controlled vocabulary that adheres to Dublin Core and VRA core guidelines. This tool combined with tools offered by Adobe Bridge, such as batch metadata editing and file renaming greatly increased my workflow and the quality of my data. After my initial survey over five months, I was able to import about 10,000 files into TMS, which is a 280% increase from the files imported into the previous collection management system. This poster will discuss my method for using embedded metadata to track information about digital assets as well as challenges and opportunities for further development. This method could be implemented by other cultural organizations as a low cost approach to tracking basic metadata, content creators and copyright restrictions.