An Exploration of Contributor-Created Description Field in Participatory Archives

  • Ana RoeschleyEmail author
  • Jeonghyun Kim
  • Oksana L. Zavalina
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 12051)


Participatory archive initiatives are an emerging phenomenon in the archives field. These initiatives are defined by the participation of the individuals that archival materials are created by or about. This often includes the description of materials by their creators. However, participatory archival description brings forth several questions: What knowledge and insights can be gained about items in a digital collection when they are described by their record creators and contributors? And what risks are there when the data values for are not created in a standardized format? To answer these questions, this paper examined the outcome of participatory archival description – i.e., free-text description metadata field created by participatory archives’ contributors. Using the Boston Harbor Islands Mass. Memories Collection Dublin Core-based description metadata records, contributor-created Description field length and attributes were analyzed through a combination of quantitative and qualitative content analysis methods. Study results show that data value of contributor-created description metadata was dominated by utterances that provide contextual information regarding archival objects, particularly about the individuals and physical environment that contributors associate with the items, while item content itself can be under-described.


Metadata Contributor-created metadata Free-text description metadata field Participatory archives 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of North TexasDentonUSA

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