#HLSDITL: Day Three

31 Oct

This is part of Hack Library School’s Day in the Life (#HLSDITL), a project that encourages library students from all over to share what library school is really like. 

Well, I overslept again. Luckily, Champaign-Urbana is such a small town that it only takes me ten minutes to ride my bike to work or class. It’s nearly impossible for me to actually be late, ever. I arrived just in time for the class Metadata in Theory and Practice. This class covers the theoretical principles of metadata schemas and provides hands-on experience serializing data in XML. It’s co-taught by librarians Tim Cole and MJ Han, who wrote the book XML for Catalogers and Metadata Librarians. Last week we began an exercise using RDF in three serializations: RDFa, RDF/XML, and JSON-LD. After creating a record with RDFa, we used this neat RDFa Distiller to parse the data into RDF/XML. Once we did that, we pasted our RDF/XML record into this RDF Validator and displayed the data as RDF triples and as a graph. It’s pretty sweet, you guys. If you want to try it, paste this XML document into the RDF Validator and display your results as “Triples and Graph.” Then hit “Parse RDF” and you should see your data represented in a table and a graph. The graph really helps me visualize RDF triples!

Two pretty great things happened at work today. After having a somewhat unpleasant email exchange yesterday, I wasn’t feeling up to the task of sending out another unsolicited email to ask for help extracting metadata from the library’s webpage. Thankfully, the third person I asked finally had a suggestion that could work! Metadata that was created for a digitized collection way back in 2007 is only available on the project’s website (as far as anyone can tell). Since so much time and effort was put into describing this image collection at the item level, we really want to capture that metadata in our digital repository. The solution may be to extract the metadata from the SQL server and map the metadata attributes onto an appropriate metadata scheme. It’s a somewhat straightforward process, but I’m going to need a lot of help to do it. I’m eager for the challenge, even more so because I get to work with some pretty great people to determine the most useful metadata scheme for the collection.

The second best thing that happened was that I was finally able  to work on the media reformatting project I started last week. The University Archives has requested reformatting for a collection of 260 floppy disks from a former professor in the Electrical and Computer Engineering department. Working on this project makes me feel happy. I’m running Windows XP on an computer that has floppy disk drives! It’s pretty nostalgic for someone my age. I grew up playing Word Munchers on 5.25-inch floppy disk and I saved my first research paper on a 3.5-inch floppy disk. I’m working on this project under the direction of our Digital Preservation Coordinator, a woman who handles the preservation of born-digital materials. She is also the most organized person I have ever met. Her detailed instructions on the Catweasel floppy disk controller and the FTK Imager for forensic imaging makes it all pretty easy. Working on something like this reminds me that I should never say no to a project that intimidates me at first. With good directions and a little instruction, it’s a project that is well within my capabilities.

Well, that’s it for tonight! Tomorrow is the last busy day for the week, so I’m hoping to get a good start.

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