Welcome to the Oral History Association Metadata Assessment and Planning Tool, a resource for managing both new oral history projects and existing collections. Recognizing that oral history interviews and collections are unique resources requiring specific information for understanding both context and content – information that might not be easily communicated in existing cataloging and metadata rules – the OHA’s Metadata Task Force developed this tool to help practitioners identify the most appropriate metadata to capture and preserve for a collection according to its oral history-specific needs and conditions.
What is important for a user to know about oral history interviews? This site offers a step-by-step assessment process as well as free downloads of the resources we’ve created. This work is the product of several years of study into practitioners’ needs, use of existing standards and current metadata practices across North America (including our own). Read more about the Task Force’s work in its white paper (2020), or visit its OHA webpage for more information.
Assess Your Oral History Metadata:
Follow these steps solo or as a team conversation. At the end of each step, you can download your work and return another day. You can expect to take roughly 45 minutes to do steps 1-3. Step 4 is a suggested follow-up activity that can involve multiple conversations and stakeholders
- Review Practitioner Profiles to learn what has informed metadata decision making for other projects. Notice how differences in staffing, collections, mission and organizational culture all have an impact on what metadata is created, preserved and shared.
- Complete your own Practitioner Profile questionnaire to think deeply about the factors that influence your metadata decisions. This could be for a new project or for a legacy collection of oral histories. If you manage multiple oral history collections with different needs, stakeholders, and characteristics, it might be best to answer the questionnaire separately for each collection
- With your collection’s unique characteristics in mind, use the Element Picker tool to select the metadata elements you currently (or plan to) capture and preserve for that collection. At any point, you can download the list and whatever selections you’ve made will be indicated.
- Make note in Column D (“Where Data Stored”) of your downloaded elements list of where you store each of these elements. For example, does a particular metadata element make it all the way into a public catalog record, or is it stored in a spreadsheet on a shared drive where staff can reference it? Consider if the metadata for this collection is in places where it will be safe for the long term and accessible to the right people. (Note: depending upon the complexity of your project and organization, this step can take longer to complete and involve multiple stakeholders)
To download the Complete Metadata Elements List for Oral Histories as a PDF, XLSX, or CSV file, please use the following links: