Metadata, often defined as “data about data,” contains information that makes data easier to access and manage. For instance, the metadata of an image consists of fields describing what the image is about, who took the picture, when the photo was taken, where, and so forth. The five screenshots included below show the metadata of some photographs of kitchen items I took for my database project. I entered the metadata through Tropy, a free, open-source software designed to describe and organize your pictures to facilitate research.
Metadata comes crucial when you have hundreds of research evidence images, including letters, artwork, manuscripts, sections of books, maps, and many more. This detailed information will help you retrieve images of a specific type (e.g., letters,) all the public domain photos, all the ones that came from the same archive, and so forth. But, for this to work, you need to use standardized terms in specific sensitive fields, such as date, type, and source, among others. Furthermore, you can add tags and notes for each image which can be extremely helpful when incorporating them into your paper, article, book, etc. For example, in the case of the kitchen items images, you could set “green” as a tag to only include the green items.
Tropy offers a series of templates to fill up the metadata according to your needs. In the case of the “Digitizing Your Kitchen” activity, I used the Dublin Core template to record the information, and it worked just fine. This particular project involved taking pictures of objects; therefore, a field indicating the item’s dimensions would have been handy to give us an idea of the object dimensions. The air fryer photograph, for instance, renders it much bigger than what it is; thus, size information seems crucial in some cases.