Digitization Resources

BPL & Digital Commonwealth Statewide Digitization


MODS (Metadata Object Description Schema)

MODS is a data structure standard (that is, a vehicle for housing your descriptive object data). Its bibliographic element set is similar to MARC and may be used for a variety of purposes. The standard is maintained by the Network Development and MARC Standards Office of the Library of Congress with input from users. Learn more about MODS.

Cataloging Resources for Graphic Materials

Below are links to some cataloging standards for graphic items.

Descriptive Cataloging of Rare Materials (Graphics)
Often referred to as DCRM(G), this volume provides guidelines for cataloging a wide variety of visual materials from photographic prints, negatives, and albums to posters, cartoons, popular and fine prints, and architectural drawings. These rules are a national standard supplement to Chapter 8 of the Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules, which focuses on modern, published audiovisual materials. It can be downloaded here.

The Thesaurus for Graphic Materials (TGM)
This is a tool for indexing visual materials by subject and by genre/format. The thesaurus includes more than 7,000 subject terms and 650 genre/format terms to index types of photographs, prints, design drawings, ephemera, and other pictures. (Note that TGM is intended to be used in conjunction with both Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH) and The Library of Congress Name Authority File (LCNAF). For more information see the guidelines here: http://www.loc.gov/rr/print/tgm1/, opens a new window

http://www.loc.gov/pictures/collection/tgm/, opens a new window

Date Format Requirements

W3C Date/Time profile of ISO8601
The Digital Commonwealth repository system requires that dates be formatted using w3cdtf encoding. Standardization of date entry will allow the system to parse the information into a human-readable display date.

w3cdtf encoding requires that dates be recorded as follows:

Year: YYYY (e.g., 1872)
Year and month: YYYY-MM (e.g., 1872-11)
Complete date: YYYY-MM-DD (e.g., 1872-11-09)

To express a date range, record the start and end dates separately. For example, an item created on November 9 and 10, 1872 would be recorded as:

Date start = 1872-11-09
Date end = 1872-11-10

If a date or date range requires a qualifier (e.g., “circa 1872”) or can only be inferred, the numeric dates would be recorded and the appropriate qualifier from the list below would be used.


approximate: Used to identify dates that have been approximated and may not be exact, such as circa dates (e.g., “ca. 1872”).

questionable: Used to identify questionable dates (e.g., “1872?”).

inferred: Used to identify dates that have not been transcribed directly from the resource, but have been inferred from another source (e.g., “[1872]”).

Note that the date used to describe the digital surrogate should be the date on which the item was originally created or issued, not the date on which it was digitally recreated.

Non-numeric dates formats: Sometimes physical items will be notated with dates such as “Early 1850,” “19th century,” Summer 1907” (or similar). This style of dating will not fit into the w3cdtf encoding model. In such instances, the textual dates should be replaced by numeric date ranges (using “start” and “end” dates as described above).

Though by no means exhaustive, the following list provides examples of how one might approach date reconfiguration in certain instances.

For centuries, use xx00 – xx99.  For example, 19th century = 1800 – 1899 (approximate), 20th century = 1900 – 1999 (approximate)

For early centuries, use xx00 – xx39. For example, early 19th century = 1800 – 1839 (approximate), early 20th century = 1900 – 1939 (approximate)

For mid centuries, use xx30 – xx69. For example, mid 19th century = 1830 – 1869 (approximate), mid 20th century = 1930 – 1969 (approximate)

For late centuries, use xx60 – xx99. For example, late 19th century = 1860 – 1899 (approximate), late 20th century = 1960 – 1999 (approximate)

For decades, use xxx0 – xxx9. For example, 1970s = 1970 – 1979 (approximate), 1850s = 1850 – 1859 (approximate)

For early decades, use xxx0 – xxx3. For example, early 1970s = 1970 – 1973 (approximate), early 1850s = 1850 – 1853 (approximate)

For mid decades, use xxx4 – xxx6. For example, mid 1970s = 1974 – 1976 (approximate), mid 1850s = 1854 – 1856 (approximate)

For late decades, use xxx7 – xxx9. For example, late 1970s = 1977 – 1979 (approximate), late 1850s = 1857 – 1859 (approximate)

Parts of years (early, mid, late):

Early part of year = Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr. For example, early 1970 = 1970-01 to 1970-04 (approximate), early 1850 = 1850-01 to 1850-04 (approximate)

Mid part of year = May, June, July, Aug. For example, mid 1970 = 1970-05 to 1970-08 (approximate), mid 1850 = 1850-05 to 1850-08 (approximate)

Late part of year = Sep, Oct, Nov, Dec. For example, late 1970 = 1970-09 to 1970-12 (approximate), late 1850 = 1850-09 to 1850-12 (approximate)

Winter = Dec, Jan, Feb. For example, winter 1970 = 1969-12 to 1970-02 (approximate), winter 1855 = 1854-12 to 1855-02 (approximate)

Spring = Mar, Apr, May. For example, Spring 1970 = 1970-03 to 1970-05 (approximate), spring 1855 = 1855-03 to 1855-05 (approximate)

Summer = Jun, Jul, Aug. For example, Summer 1970 = 1970-06 to 1970-08 (approximate), summer 1855 = 1855-06 to 1855-08 (approximate)

Fall = Sep, Oct, Nov. For example, Fall 1970 = 1970-09 to 1970-11 (approximate), fall 1855 = 1855-09 to 1855-11 (approximate)


The Digital Commonwealth repository is capable of displaying locations as points on a map. If you are interested in representing a country, state, town, or physical landmark such as a lake or mountain, we recommend you use the Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names (TGN), a hierarchical vocabulary that uses a code to represent the location with its full hierarchy (city->county->state->country->world, etc.). If you include the location’s TGN code within your metadata (for example, Boston, MA = 7013445), the repository will place a pointer on a map in the middle of the location.

If you are interested in a more specific location, such as a building, you can try Geonames, which also uses a code to represent a location. In this case, if you include the location’s Geonames code within your metadata (for example, Boston Public Library = 4931010), the repository will place a pointer on a map in the middle of the more specific location.

The repository is also capable of displaying specific addresses as points on a map. In order to utilize this functionality, addresses must be expressed within your metadata as coordinates of latitude and longitude (for example, 42.349394,-71.078378). Texas A&M University Geoservices provides tools and services for geocoding and related tasks, available online at: http://geoservices.tamu.edu

Digital Library Solutions


Quite a lot of institutions in Massachusetts have begun using Omeka in the past couple of years. Available plugins include geolocation, a csv importer tool, and an exhibit builder. One of the nice things about Omeka is that it is available in both hosted and downloadable versions. Depending on the amount of storage space you need, the cost of the hosted version ranges from $49 – $999/year (a free version with 500 MB of storage is also available). The downloadable version is “free,” but it requires someone on staff who can install/maintain on your web server.

Omeka.net (hosted): http://www.omeka.net/, opens a new window
Omeka.org (downloadable): http://omeka.org/, opens a new window

WordPress and Flickr

Some Institutions (including the BPL) have successfully used social media sites/tools such as WordPress or Flickr to share their digital collections:

WordPress.org (downloadable): http://wordpress.org/, opens a new window
WordPress.com (hosted): http://wordpress.com/, opens a new window
Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/, opens a new window

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