University of Texas at Austin
This course comprises a critical, comparative examination of the concept of description and its institutionalization, in the form of metadata standards, rules, and formats, in three primary contexts: libraries, archives, and museums. We will investigate the conceptual foundations and goals of description in each context and the structures (guidelines, technologies) that have been developed to facilitate institutional goals.
We will also explore emerging challenges to traditional models of description, focusing on potential convergence of descriptive efforts in digital environments. We will examine initiatives to create integrative infrastructures across cultural heritage environments, and we will ponder the incorporation of “data” in cultural heritage collections as well as “documents.” We will also think about the nature of description (that is, metadata) and the status of traditional distinctions between description and its object (that is, between metadata and data, or metadata and document).
The course will not emphasize the practice of creating descriptive metadata in any current environment (that is, you will not learn how to create library catalog records or archival finding aids according to existing content and technical standards). Instead, the course will focus on understanding and interrogating the conceptual foundations of existing standards and guidelines for such descriptions. We will emphasize rigorous and spirited analysis of these descriptive paradigms and their continued utility in a rapidly changing information landscape.
No required textbook.