Applying date Dublin Core metadata

If a photograph was taken in 1968, and digitised in 2005, and uploaded into a repository in 2007, is it appropriate to export all three of these dates in the unqualified dc:date field? [Originally asked by Gordon on December 24, 2008, on www.digitalnz.org]

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Good question! We consulted with a fellow National Library staff member, who is also a member of the Dublin Core Metadata Initiative’s Advisory Board. His opinion was as follows: "You should include just the creation date – unless you (or Digital New Zealand) has good reasons for other dates to appear or Digital New Zealand can segregate multiple date types." (which we currently can't). The reasoning behind this opinion relates to the purpose of Dublin Core metadata (to facilitate discovery of electronic resources), and a need to prioritise information that is most ‘useful’ for resource discovery. "To me, the most useful date is 1968 – general users searching for it are less likely to be interested in when it was digitised or made available online." There is a long answer too, which relates to the ‘one-to-one’ principle of applying Dublin Core metadata, and a philosophy of ‘thinking like a user’.

Long answer

Dublin Core describes a one-to-one relationship between the record and the object that is being described. So we need to ask ‘is the record describing the original or the digitised version’? In the Dublin Core Abstract Model, there would be two description records: one for the original (the photograph taken in 1968) and one for the digitised version – then the dates are in separate descriptions. But when both of these are brought together in a single record, you need to make decisions – and in this case, we suggest you err towards what users are trying to discover. From our resident metadata specialist: "There is nothing preventing the other dates also being included, but it seems to me it just muddies the information for little benefit. Maybe these could be added to the description (eg "digitised by X in 2000"?). I would argue the date uploaded isn't really related to describing the resource, rather it is an admin function about the record." Another consideration, particularly relevant to the goals of Digital New Zealand, is that in many cases the date created is also the copyright date for the content. A good date to be aware of if you want to re-use content without breaking the law. Hope this helps. If you want to talk about it more, feel free to use the comments function.

--Anonymous • 2009-05-11 00:00:00 UTC

Helpful info thanks Virgina

--Anonymous • 2009-05-11 00:00:00 UTC

What about a digitized photograph of another creative object such as a building or sculpture? Sometimes it is difficult to imagine what the viewer is most interested in - are they looking at the architect's work or the architectural photographers?

--Anonymous • 2009-05-11 00:00:00 UTC