Metadata Review of Market Research and American Business: 1935-1965

The metadata included in the Market Research and American Business: 1935-65 (MRAAB) collection varies widely between objects.  Consider the case of these two objects:  a memorandum titled “Report-Radio-TV advertising of Fisher’s Blend Flour” and an ad titled “How to serve a family of six for 69₵.” Both items may be searched by title, date, industry, company and brand.  However, the second item has fewer components in its metadata and some of the classifications are similar but not identical, complicating searchability.  Finally, some data points such as size, original image type and digital image type are not present in either record.

It seems that the metadata differs by the institutional source for the material.  MRAAB sources its material from the Hagley Library, the Advertising Archives and collections at Duke University. However, it is impossible to filter to test this hypothesis because the advanced search feature only allows one to initially filter the search for keywords by the terms: title, commissioned by, company and brand. Those results may be further filtered by document type, date, industry and language; however, filtering by collection of origin is not possible.  Neither is it possible to filter by copyright source or place.  In the case of the ad for Gold Medal Flour, the cataloging information about where to locate the original ad is also missing.

Metadata Schema Elements Report on Radio Advertising: Fisher’s Blend Flour from Hagley Library Advertisement Gold Medal Flour from Advertising Archives
ü    Title Title
  Box Number x
  Report Number x
  Library Source Source
  Copyright Source x
ü    Date Date
  Document Type x
  x Image Type
ü    Industry Industry
  Commissioned By x
  Conducted By x
  Place x
ü    Company Company
ü    Brand Brand
ü    Keywords Keywords
  Language x
  x Image Details
Original Image x x
Size x x
Digital Type x x

This seems to be a classic case in what JISC Digital Media describes in “Metadata: An Introduction” as an instance in which resources set forth in Market Research and American Business: 1935-65 span more than one community.  The metadata from each community is distinct, and in comingling the two schemas as starting points, the overall efficacy of searching the entire database is weakened.

Overall, the database seems to be well constructed with many visual interfaces and supplemental materials to help scaffold the content for the user.  However, at its most basic level, the database weakens itself by not paying greater attention to the details of the metadata that make this scaffolding and the search engine itself as efficient and efficacious as possible.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *