Guidelines for iSchool Collections in Arca

When you contribute collections to Arca's digital repositories, the metadata information you provide allows people to more easily explore, access, and contextualize your items. Inconsistent or incomplete metadata makes objects harder to discover and understand.

Please review the following document and set aside time to formulate a strategy for uniform metadata usage across your collection. It is valuable to explicitly decide genre terms, rights statements, and creator attribution at the beginning of the project, and write them down as a reference point, especially if more than one person will be uploading to the collection.

The Islandora framework allows for a lot of flexibility in how we describe and contextualize the digital objects we upload to collections. You can add and edit metadata within the visual editor accessible via the "Edit" tab when logged in. If you are more technically inclined, you can edit XML records directly and upload to replace existing metadata. However, the following document is largely focused upon the visual editor interface, as that's what you'll encounter when manually uploading objects on this site.

Creating and Defining Collections

After you've logged into the UBC iSchool Arca repository, within the main collections page you can navigate to the "Manage" tab and select "Add an object to this collection" in the top left. In the next screen's drop-down menu, select Islandora Collection Content Model

Choosing a Persistent Identifier for Your Collection

The short collection name you choose will form the Persistent IDentifier (PID) for your collection, which cannot be changed, so pick carefully! You will have the opportunity to create a much more descriptive collection title- this PID will mostly only be seen in the site access URL and the metadata itself.

The Collection PID is presented in the format [namespace:collection]. When adding to UBC's iSchool repository, always use the namespaceslais.” The self-defined “collection” component should be brief, and can either be a simple numeric code or descriptive of collection contents. 

For example, if you are creating a new collection of Sunshine Coast maps, here are some descriptive but brief options:


You also have the option to leave the field blank, in which case a random short identifier will be generated for you. Either way, be sure that there is a checkmark in Inherit collection policy? and select UBC iSchool in the drop-down menu.

Core Collection Metadata

In addition to a descriptive title for your collection, you will want to provide a description, select a genre (see more on genres below), and select an image to upload as a collection thumbnail.

Compound Objects and Item Relationships

Compound Objects are essentially placeholder objects that link multiple objects together as if they were a single object. This is a useful structure to adopt if you have sub-collection relationships, such as uploading multiple individual pages of a scanned newspaper.

However, keep in mind that the Compound Object (parent) itself needs to have metadata that describes the object as a whole, and the child objects each need metadata that describes them individually. This can result in a time-consuming process; plan for that if possible, and if the time isn't available, consider uploading entire multi-page documents as single objects for a simpler solution.

Creating and Defining Objects

Once you've created your collection, you can begin uploading individual digital objects and describing them within the system. Just as you utilized the Islandora Collection Content Model to create a collection, you'll select a content model from the initial drop-down menu based on the type of object you're uploading (basic image, PDF, audio, document, newspaper, etc.).

Below you'll find the mandatory metadata fields to include and considerations to keep in mind, as well as recommended additional metadata.

Mandatory Metadata For Objects

  • Title — be as descriptive as you'd like. If the object is one in a series, feel free to assign numeric notation for ease of navigation, e.g. "Arts Gala Musical Performance at Roundhouse Community Centre [Photograph 1]."
  • Name (if known) —  Within this model, personal applies to any individual with a first and last name, and corporate applies to any group or non-individual entity. In the rare cases where there is absolutely no known information about a creator, curator, or publisher, it is acceptable to leave this field blank. As long as there is a name given, there must be a role assigned to that name, defined according to MARC role terms. If one person serves multiple roles (e.g. Artist and Publisher), you must create a new "Name" entry for each role. 
  • Type of resource — note that in some Islandora content models, there will be a drop-down menu below the names and roles section, within which you can designate the item resource type (e.g. still image, cartographic, text).
  • Genre — Defining “local” terms for your genres is not ideal, because it makes your collection hard to search and access. Appropriate genre terms can be selected from two sources:
    • The Art & Architecture Thesaurus [AAT]: The AAT allows for either broad generalization (documents, photographs) or high degrees of precision (military recordsblack-and-white negatives).
    • MAchine-Readable Cataloging Genre Terms [MARC]: MARC’s guidelines are much simpler, with a smaller range of available terms which are much more technical and document-oriented.

Most existing collections in the UBC iSchool's Arca repository use the AAT for genre definitions. Whichever standard you choose, you should apply it consistently throughout your collection and sub-collections. Note whether the preferred terms you select are plural or distinctive in some other way. Check the preferred term directly from AAT/MARC. Note: Please, do not capitalize any letter in your genre terms. Writing a term with the first letter capitalized creates a non-standard term in Arca/Islandora and this practice should be avoided. Make sure you only use lowercase letters for your genre terms and avoid any uppercase letters consistently .

  • Date Issued — assign the most appropriate date to your item according to MARC's related guidelines. In terms of formatting, YYYY, YYYY-MM, YYYY-MM-DD are all acceptable, depending upon the precision of available information- just ensure the format is in the correct order.

If your source of information on the date is unreliable, you can specify that via the Qualifier drop-down menu. It allows you to denote that the date is inferred (you determined the date based on context or the text itself), approximate (the date is known to be imprecise), or questionable (the source of the date is unclear or unreliable). 

  • Description — in the description field, you have the freedom to describe and represent your items and their relationship to your collection however you would like.
  • Rights statement —  at the very bottom of the metadata editor, you’ll find a drop-down menu with different potential rights statements.

Recommended Metadata Fields For Objects

  • Language  utilize codes from the Library of Congress ISO 639-2 Code List

  • Identifier (local) — this field is useful if you're uploading a collection which already has a set of unique identifiers attached. The Arca upload will still generate its own PID, so store previous identifiers here for organizational cross-reference.

  • Subjects — Use the Library of Congress Subject Headings [LCSH] as a reference point: if there are a couple unique larger topics that define your collection, you can find the relevant subject headings within the LCSH and use them uniformly across your collection to make it more findable.

  • Anything else you know about the object — when you upload your first object or two to a new collection, carefully review the available fields in the metadata editor. Depending upon your collection, there may be some specialized fields which are of particular relevance, and you can note this and add those fields uniformly across the collection.

Some examples of this flexibility are the usefulness of physical description and extent and cartographic coordinates for a collection of antique regional maps, or the requirement to generate 10-20 distinct name-and-role records for a short contemporary film with multiple known contributors.

    Thumbnail for your collection

    In order to keep the same look and feeling on all of the thumbnails of our collections please create your thumbnails following these standards:

    • Size - 250 pixes x 250 pixels. You can use cropping tools that maintain a 1:1 ratio to make sure your thumbnails are perfectly square.
    • Resolution - Around 150 ppi
    • Border - It is not needed unless your background is partially or completely white, in which case you should add some frame to distinguish the thumbnail from Arca's background colour.