One of the challenges that need to be solved for online source citation is the ability to give structure to digital assets. Think of an online book that consists of a hundred images each representing a page. There are other images for the cover, title page, etc. There might even be text documents, audio files, or video associated with it. How do we keep track of all those individual files and relate them as a single digital entity? That is part of the problem that METS is trying to solve. In online citations, we also have the issue of source provenance. Where did the digital image file for the census come from? It came from a microfilm copy of the original census. Is it possible that METS can help keep track of this provenance? What about complex sources that are part of a collection in a series part of a record group at an archive? Can MET be used to keep track of this hierarchal information?
Let’s explore the basics of METS to see if we can find some answers.
Metadata Encoding & Transmission Standard – METS
Basically a METS document consists of 7 major sections:
1. METS Header
2. Descriptive Metadata
3. Administrative Metadata
4. File Section
5. Structual Map
6. Structual Links
METS is usually used to manage digital assets where there is at least one digital file, but it doesn’t have to. The sections that are interesting for our discussion are Descriptive Metadata, Administrative Metadata, and Structual Map.