Metadata for Images: Local Team

If you are a member of the Local Team you will be capturing information from the physical images. You need to have the physical image in front of you.

1.0 Handling the Physical Images

Images in an archive such as the ANC Archive are often irreplaceable. In other words, the image you are handling may be the only copy in the whole World. It is, therefore, absolutely essential, that you handle it with great respect and do everything possible to ensure it is not damaged in any way by your handling. Here are some practices to studiously put into practice:

  • Your hands have acidic oils on them that can damage images in the long run.
  • Wash your hands before handling the physical images, and several times during the day.
  • Wash your hands after eating.
  • Food and drinks are not allowed in the production room at all and should not be anywhere near the images. It is so easy to have an accidental spill which will ruin images.
  • Never handle the front of a photographic print as you might leave visible fingerprints as well as invisible, but damaging oils. Handle all images gently by their edges.
  • Never touch the image of a negative or positive transparency especially the dull emulsion side, but rather pick it up holding the top and bottom edge of the image.
  • Remove paper clips and pins which rust and leave indentations.
  • Remove elastic bands which in a few years turn into a sticky mess. Replace them with cotton tape, or an archival enclosure.

2.0 Locating the Physical Image

You will notice at the top of the Metadata Mode page of the MEMAT Metadata App, that there is a folder path that will look something like this:Metadata_String.jpg

That string of information gives you the information you need to locate the physical image in the archive. You need to have that box and folder on hand in order to proceed further. Normally you would be assigned a whole folder or a whole box so you would be retrieving the whole box from the archive and then working through that box. You need to be as efficient as possible in terms of retrieving and returning boxes to the archive.

3.0 Finding Information on the Physical Image

When capturing metadata, you will need the physical image in your hands. The physical image, if it is a print, is likely to have the information on the back. Sometimes it may be written on the front. Slides are likely to have information on a label on the slide or on the box that the slide came in. Negatives often have information written on the top of the negative sheet or on papers associated with the negative sheet.

4.0 The Impact of Poor Metadata Capture

When first commissioned to do metadata capture from the ANC Archive, the Local Team was not sufficiently trained and the brief was too vague. As a result, problems were introduced into the capture of this metadata. These issues were picked up by experienced members of the Remote Team and a thorough investigation was conducted by Management in March 2018 and a report generated. It is worth reading this report so you are aware what was being done poorly. Here is the report.

Now we are ready to start. If you are an on-site capturer, DID YOU WASH YOUR HANDS? If not, please go and do that now before you continue any further.

5.0 Capturing Metadata

The aim of the Local Team must be to create a reliable record of what is in the physical archive that the Remote Team can be certain that they have available to them all the information upon which they can do metadata capture. The Remote Team have no access to the physical archive, and therefore, what is presented to them, needs to be what is actually in the physical archive or, if it is valuable information that is not in the physical archive, they are alerted to the fact that it does not come from the physical archive.

Having worked with the Local Team looking at the various scenarios they encounter we have decided to a template that will go into the Caption / Description field of every image they work on. The template is as follows:

PHYSICAL CONTAINER INFO:

PHYSICAL PHOTO INFO:

PHYSICAL RELATED INFO:

INFO FROM ARCHIVIST:

INFO NOT FROM PHYSICAL ARCHIVE:

5.1 Physical Container Info

Some of the information in the physical archive is information that comes from the work of the archivist at the University of Fort Hare who are grouping materials together when they receive it into the archive. Mostly they record such information on an envelope or folder or Album or File. We have chosen to use the word Container as a generic word that refers to all of these. One assumes these are experts in the field and so this information is largely reliable. It is not the job of the UFH-based metadata capturers to second-guess this information. They should simply record it under the PHYSICAL CONTAINER INFO heading.

5.2 Physical Photo Info

Other information comes from the source of the image, such as a press agency that put a sticker on the back of a photo or someone who wrote some information either on the front of back. In either case, it is helpful for the remote capturers to know where this information comes from.

If this information is on the back or front of the photo then this information is recorded under the PHYSICAL PHOTO INFO heading.

5.3 Physical Related Info

Sometimes, information may not be on a folder or on the back of the photo, but perhaps on a related slip of paper that may apply to many photos or just one photo. In this case, when capturing this information the capturer should put the heading PHYSICAL RELATED INFO.

5.4 Info From Archivist

Because the ANC and NAHECS Archivists are on hand at NAHECS where this capture work is being done, from time to time, the metadata capturers at UFH are able to ask questions of the archivists who are subject experts. In this case, it may be, that on occasion information is available that is additional to or different from what is in the physical archive. In this case, the metadata capturer should record it under the INFO FROM ARCHIVIST heading. Such information would tend to be gleaned from the Archivists where what is written on the photo is illegible or when there is no information.

5.5 Info Not From Physical Archive

For a number of photographs, there are captions already associated with the digital file, yet this information cannot be traced to the physical archive. In the past, a lot of material was assigned to metadata capturers. That information came from various sources including a small number of files that were captioned by senior cadres of the ANC, files that were worked on by under-qualified metadata capturers provided by the ANC, files worked on by AMO staff members who were capturing information remotely without any access to the original archive, and files worked on by AMO subcontractors on site at the University of Fort Hare but without a very clear template to work on and a fairly open brief. All of these attempts ended up contaminating the metadata in the archive to varying degrees as, on the whole, this information has been found to be unreliable. To indicate clearly to the Remote Team that this information does not come from the Physical archive in any way, this information should be placed under the heading: INFO NOT FROM PHYSICAL ARCHIVE.

Examples

There are also images that have no related information in the physical archive at all. In this case, the UFH metadata capturer should simply write:

PHYSICAL FOLDER INFO:

No information

PHYSICAL PHOTO INFO:

No information

PHYSICAL RELATED INFO:

INFO FROM ARCHIVIST:

INFO NOT FROM PHYSICAL ARCHIVE:

NOTE: there is no need to fill in “No information” under the last three headings since information in these fields is occasional anyway.

Conceptually one could come across an image that has an existing digital caption but no information in the Physical archive. In that case, the metadata capturer writes:

PHYSICAL FOLDER INFO:

No information

PHYSICAL PHOTO INFO:

No information

PHYSICAL RELATED INFO:

INFO FROM ARCHIVIST:

INFO NOT FROM PHYSICAL ARCHIVE:

Nelson Mandela visited China in 1995 as part of a ….

If one comes across information that is illegible, then one would write for example:

PHYSICAL FOLDER INFO:

No information

PHYSICAL PHOTO INFO:

Illegible information

PHYSICAL RELATED INFO:

INFO FROM ARCHIVIST:

INFO NOT FROM PHYSICAL ARCHIVE: