Metadata Clean Sweep: A Digital Library Audit Project

Metadata Clean Sweep: A Digital Library Audit Project

R. Niccole Westbrook, University of Houston Libraries
Dan Johnson, University of Houston Libraries
Karen Carter, Rutgers School of Communication and Information
Angela Lockwood, Texas Women’s University School of Library and Information Studies


As digital library collections grow in size, metadata issues such as inconsistencies, incompleteness and quality become increasingly difficult to manage over time. Unfortunately, successful user search and discoverability of digital collections relies almost entirely on the accuracy and robustness of metadata. This paper discusses the pilot of an ongoing digital library metadata audit project that was collaboratively launched by library school interns and full-time staff to alleviate poor recall, poor precision and metadata inconsistencies across digital collections currently published in the University of Houston Digital Library. Interns and staff designed a multi-step project that included metadata review of sample items from each collection, systematic revision of previously published metadata and recommendations for future metadata procedures and ongoing metadata audit initiatives. No such metadata audit efforts had been conducted on the UH Digital Library and the project yielded data that provided staff with the opportunity to significantly improve the overall quality and consistency of metadata for collections published over the nearly three year life of the repository. This article also contains lessons learned and suggestions on how a similar metadata audit project could be implemented in other libraries hosting digital collections.

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