Descriptive metadata is, quite simply, descriptive information about a resource. This data includes any and all types of information that describes the asset. Because of this, its function is essential for discovering and identifying assets. For a book, this would include information such as the title, author’s name, keywords, publication date, genre, and so on. It can also venture into physical attributes such as colors or file dimensions. It can be considered the most extensive form of metadata as there are a multitude of ways to describe an asset.
In best practice, descriptive metadata is used in a specific and standardized approach. This will ensure that the book or collection is located easily and by the intended clientele.
If you are an author or publisher, there are a handful of things you can include in your descriptive metadata to boost your discoverability.
The following tips come from the Ingram Spark article “Facts About Book Metadata and Why It’s Critical to Your Publishing Success” (Ingram Spark Staff, 2018).
The more you dive into descriptive metadata, the more you realize that there is a level of creative freedom to target your clientele from different angles. In this sense, you will receive your most impactful results, as an author or publisher, if you dive into both specific and abstract descriptive metadata (MerlinOne, n.d.).
Structural metadata is essentially how the resource is organized. In a book, this can be how the pages are ordered to form the chapters or how a collection of books is put in order. Its work is to take these pieces of information and facilitate effective navigation and presentation of the digital materials to your audience. These pieces encompass page numbers, sections, paragraph formatting, chapters, indices, tables of content, volumes, or basically anything that has to do with the organization of the materials.
Structural metadata can effectively separate a book into different chunks and provide these specific parts to your audience based on what they are searching. This can be chapters, tables, paragraphs, pictures, etc. In the past, this was the extent of what was understood about structural metadata. Today, however, it is able to not only break a large work into separate portions but also reassemble them in various ways. Picture a puzzle that you can take apart and put together again with the pieces in different places each time and still they always fit perfectly together. The structural data’s work is to create strong, intentional connections (Andrews, 2017).
What is just as imperative as the book’s own organization is how that organization affects the way in which the materials interact with other external resources. Structural data allows you to understand those relationships. One example could look like linking certain related content together, which can be two articles or two chapters but can also become very complex and intricate depending on the specific content and details of the materials.
In best practice, structural data takes a book and creates a stream of different hierarchical combinations, both internally and externally. These can also include non-hierarchical relationships. Picture these relationships between digital materials assembling like a network or web (Zhang & Gourley, 2009).
The National Information Standards Organization (NISO) explains administrative metadata as a combination of the three following sub-categories:
- Technical Metadata
- Information necessary for decoding and rendering files.
- Technical Metadata for a book is what describes how a resource was made.
- This can include information such as the model and version of the computer the work was made and saved on.
- Preservation Metadata
- Information necessary for the long-term management and archiving of digital assets.
- Preservation Metadata takes all this information to manage the correct curation and usage of the written work to guarantee its consistent quality and safety.
- Rights Metadata
- Information pertaining to intellectual property and usage rights.
- Rights metadata for a book is taking this information to determine who, where, and when certain content can be shared, re-posted, or distributed. (MerlinOne, n.d.)
This work may seem somewhat general and straightforward in comparison to descriptive and structural metadata processing, but it is absolutely crucial to understand if you are to publish any type of work as an author or publisher (SharePoint in Microsoft 365, 2021).
It is important to recognize that each of these types of metadata is distinct but also essential to any author, publisher, or company, in general.
Preparing Your Book for Metadata Processing
So where do you start or rather how do you prepare your written work for these processes? A book or any piece of written work must be able to have these identifying factors. This could involve modifying sections of your book to include certain characterizing keywords or organizing your chapters in a way that they can be consumed individually or with another external source that complements your work.
The following are some tricks of the trade to consider when preparing your book to be published:
- Avoid using quotes around keywords.
- Make your subtitle not just a description of your book but a sales line that works across different platforms. Ideally, it is something that draws attention and differentiates your book from
- Use intriguing formatting in your book description for the metadata to draw from and to bring the attention of your audience to specific information.
- Keep your name consistent. If you use your middle initial once, use your middle initial in every instance your name is present in the book and online.
- Make sure the formatting of your work can be easily transferable onto a mobile device and across as many platforms as possible.
- In order to include certain phrases, people, brands, references in your descriptive metadata, you must have that information readily available in your book to draw from. For example, if your book is in a setting that is relevant to the written work, you can strategically address this setting or its features throughout the book so that the descriptive metadata can detect this information more easily and more frequently. (Max, n.d.)
The list goes on…
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