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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by transcript Verlag June 15, 2021

One-Eyed Archive

Metadata Reflections on the USVI Photographic Collections at The Royal Danish Library

Mette Kia Krabbe Meyer and Temi Odumosu
From the journal Digital Culture & Society

Abstract

During 2016, the Royal Danish Library digitized more than 200.000 pages from the library’s, collections all of which related to the former colonies in the Caribbean. This included books and other printed matter, but also sheet music, manuscripts, personal documents, photographs and drawings. Images were published in Digital Collections, the library’s platform for digitized materials, and were accompanied by limited metadata, thereby posing challenges in terms of accessibility and important historical contextualisation. This essay therefore reflects on the gaps and the silences that haunt indexing and descriptive practices in the migration online. Mette Kia Krabbe Meyer is Senior Research Fellow at the Royal Danish Library and has been project-managing the digitisation. Temi Odumosu is Senior Lecturer in Cultural Studies at Malmö University and has worked intensively with the collection as user and collaborator in the project What Lies Unspoken. As the Library embarks on initiatives to address the limited metadata associated with its digital collections, the authors come together to unfold key questions about approaches and process. They describe the characteristics of Digital Collections and the metadata currently provided, and ask what is left out and why; thereby engaging cultural biases that uneasily mirror the colonial project. The authors also explore how more inclusive user involvement, particularly in the United States Virgin Islands (USVI), could shift language and epistemology. The leading inquiry question is: In the one-eyed colonial archive, what is it possible for metadata to do?

Published Online: 2021-06-15
Published in Print: 2020-12-01

© 2021 by transcript Verlag