Metadata is information about information, it is structured content that describes a resource from different points of view. Additionally, use of metadata facilitates the identification, grouping, organizing of the resource to distinguish the resource.
There are several types of metadata: descriptive, structural, and administrative. The descriptions contain the information of the title, author and keywords, and their main function is to help the discovery of the resource. The structural ones describe the pages and chapters. The administrative ones contain technical information and data that facilitate the administration of the resource.
Archives Unbound presents subject-focused digital collections of historical documents limited to text-based Monographs, Newspapers and Manuscripts Collections. Archives Unbound covers a broad range of topics from the Middle Ages forward–from Witchcraft to World War II to twentieth-century political history.
The metadata returned for each item is organized under the Citation. The citation captures information such as:
- Publication Date
- Document Type
- Microfilm Reel #
- Physical Description
- Source Library
- Gale Document Number
A neat feature powered by the metadata is called the ‘Topical Finder’ tool. This tool takes the titles, subjects, and approximately the first 100 words from a subset of your top results and feeds them into an algorithm. Keywords shown in the graphics are those found most often in the text with your search term. The topic for “Illinois” might bring up expected connections from the text like “Chicago,” along with unexpected but commonly related terms like “water,” “steel,” and the names of people who appear frequently in documents about Illinois.
The Boolean search powers the advanced search allowing users to combine keywords with operators (or modifiers) such as AND, NOT and OR to further produce more relevant results.
A benefit of digitization clearly on display is the use of the “Search Within” tool. Not only are items digitized, the interface does on the fly OCR. In combination it drives the ability to dig deeper within the material or keywords. This allows one to understand the context in which the word was found, which is not the forte of a computer.
Gale’s attempt to understand context is with a tool called the Topic Finder. It is a way to visualize which words and subjects are found most often in the text of your search results. Clicking on a topic wheel or tile narrows your original search results to the documents also containing that subject or term. The Term frequency tool allows you to view search results over time by entering a word or phrase, comparing multiple terms if desired. By clicking on a point on the graph, retrieve search results for that year or, by clicking and dragging, select a time period to zoom in on.