Let’s Talk About Dates: Coming to Terms with Diverse/Divergent Practices around Dates in ETD Metadata
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As theses and dissertations have evolved in format from shelved print resources to electronic files housed in institutional repositories, recordkeeping practices have been developed to account for the description of theses’ content and their administration across a lifecycle marked by institutional approval, publication, and preservation. This presentation reports on findings related to the use of dates throughout an ETD’s lifecycle, observed in the course of an update to the Texas Digital Library (TDL)’s descriptive metadata standards for electronic theses and dissertations. To better understand the types and uses of dates, the presenters compared guidelines related to dates in metadata standards and recommendations issued at the institutional, regional, national, and international levels against date values found in records from 16 NDLTD members’ repositories. This analysis suggests potential explanations for differences in metadata practices among institutions, including (1) divergent philosophies about the role of metadata-- viewed either as an extension of cataloging or as a distinct component in the lifecycle management of electronic documents; (2) the constraints enforced by the systems and tools developed to shepherd ETDs; and (3) the ambiguous (or non-existent) definitions and mappings of date fields included in documentation/standards. The presentation will start by providing contextual information on the project that prompted this investigation:the work of the TDL ETD Metadata Working Group; next, it will discuss the methodology used by the presenters to generate results, with an emphasis on analyzing existing standards and practices; after addressing results, the presentation will focus on next steps and lessons learned from this exercise in metadata evaluation and analysis, including direct implications on the recommendations of the working group.