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Libraries are at the forefront of creating rich quality metadata to ensure communities can access, learn, and understand their shared histories. The Metadata and Monographic Resources Team (MMRT) is tasked with describing and providing access points to Clemson Libraries’ Digital Collections. Metadata decisions made by MMRT affect how community members discover, access, and use these materials. Photographic images, in particular, pose challenges if they lack descriptive information or historical context. If descriptions are provided, they often align with the historically white male majority, naming high level individuals and leaving out minority and marginalized peoples.

This poster covers challenges and decisions MMRT made to improve inclusive access to the Clemson University Historical Images by harnessing the power of local subject headings. This includes steps metadata specialists take to research image content, identify knowledge gaps, and create and apply new local subjects. Hard questions needed to be answered. For example, how do we normalize and control our local subjects to ensure consistent application? How detailed of a description do we provide to contextualize an image for researchers? Our current goal is to create a sustainable descriptive process that is consistently applied across a collection to support researcher needs. This poster will also discuss future hopes and goals, such as creating a globally accessible, shareable, and reusable local subject vocabulary for institutions beyond Clemson. The local subject approach could be useful for any type of library or cultural heritage institution looking to digitize and describe their image collections.


This poster was presented by Jessica Serrao and Janice Prater at the 2019 American Library Association Annual Conference in Washington, D.C., held June 20-25, 2019.