3.4 Item Level Metadata

For each of your files, you will want to keep track of or provide the following information. 

  • Titles
    • Main title
    • Parallel title
    • Series title
  • Creator
  • Contributor
  • Coverage
  • Language
  • Date
  • Content Description
  • Physical Description
  • Subject and Keywords

This information can be in an Excel spreadsheet, list, or entered into SayMore.  This is really your choice.  When you work with a CORSAL team member to move your materials to the CORSAL archive, we will ask you for this information.  The more information you have, the more complete the metadata and the more useful your item.

Here we provide some details on what is meant by these metadata field names.


Main Title

All items must have a short, informative title in English that accurately describes what the item is. By using a guide as in this following list,you can keep your titles consistent through your collection.

Content of recording


Retelling of:  use this when there is a well known story or a picture book or video that is retold 

Retelling of the Pear Story

Traditional story about: use this when the story is a folktale

Traditional Story about the squirrel and bat

Monologue on: use this for one person speaking about opinions, history, interpretation.

Monologue on the state of the Lamkang language now and in the past

Description of: use this for the description of a procedure such as cooking, fishing, or how baskets are made

Description of how medicines are made from the green plants from kitchen gardens

Performance of: use this for someone singing, dancing, reciting a poem

Performance of the ritual blessing song.

Personal narrative on: use this for a person talking about their personal experience

Personal narrative on education and work

Conversation about: use this for two or more people talking

Conversation about the festivals in town.

Discussion about:  use this when there is a topic like grammar that is being talked about by two or more people

Discussion about the grammar of causatives.

Elicitation of: use this when you are talking about grammar and getting responses from speakers

Elicitation of words about vegetables. 

Analytical discussion about: use this for a guided conversation between linguist and speaker about specific aspects of the language, more detail about previously collected stories, etc.

Analytical discussion about modals

Speech about: use this for a talk prepared ahead of time and performed/spoken in front of a large group

Speech about the elections

Reading of: use this for reading of wordlists, when written stories are read out loud.

Reading of the wordlist on verbs

Photograph of: use this for photographs

Photograph of a traditional house

Unpublished manuscript about: use this for handwritten or typed notes that have not been published

Unpublished manuscript about the spelling system

Published book: use this for a published book, pamphlet, or magazine. These items will use their published title.

The 6th Triennial Fellowship, Lamkang Naga Baptist Association: Hymn Book

Analytical notes on: use this for written paradigms, notes on technical linguistic subjects, etc.

Analytic notes on verb paradigms

Letter to:  use this for letters, audio or written

Letter to Rex’s brother

Parallel Title

The Parallel title is a translation of the title in the source language. So, in the CORSAL Lamkang Language Resource where the Main Title is the “United Nations Declarations on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples”, the Parallel Title is “Chaatti Kunpun ni Mdopandandok Indigenous Miirek ki Ruhtanna”.  Here's what that looks like in the UNT Digital Library metadata editor which is where your CORSAL team member will be entering your item level metadata.

Series Title

In CORSAL we use the Series Title field to show what collection an item belongs to. For example, Shobhana Chelliah Collection or Rex Khullar Collection.


The Creator field is used to indicated who made the recording, wrote the book, created a translation, created a transcription and so on.  We have provided the most common roles for the creator field for our language documentation projects.  You will find that identifying the role of creator becomes much easier after you have used this list a few times, 


Use for


A person or group that provided linguistic analysis of language data.  


A person that wrote the book or drew the picture


A person who has brought together material for the collection.  They may have recorded or written the materials themselves or brought together recordings and materials by someone else. If someone records a speech event but does no other speaking or questioning, you may also use the collector role.


Elicits language data through engaging in conversation or questions couched in conversation

Research team member

A person who participated in a research project but whose role did not involve direction or management of it (use sparingly).


A person or organization responsible for performing research (use sparingly)

Research team head

A person who spearheads the intellectual activities of a research project (use sparingly)


A person or organization responsible for taking photographs


A person who creates the transcription


A person who translates from one language to another



Here we need to say who else is involved in the making of the recording, like the speaker, someone who helps with the recording, or a technical helper.  If you have already listed someone under Creator, do not repeat that person under Contributor.


Use for a person or group that 


Provided linguistic analysis of language data. 


Assisted the primary creator. (use sparingly, vague)


Provided specialized knowledge - anything from acoustic analysis or videography.  Not the linguistic consultant - for that see below.


The person who provides language data through informal conversation or in response to informal questions.


Participated in a staged performance, i.e., Sang songs, recited a poem, or acted in a play.

Research team head

Directed or managed the research project leading to the recording (use sparingly)

Research team member

Participated in a research project but whose role did not involve direction or management of it (use sparingly)


Conducted research which includes creating this recording.  For example, this could be a student researcher or someone hired by a grant to help with research (use sparingly)


Contributed to a resource by speaking in the language of this resource collection, most likely a native speaker of the language.


Prepared a handwritten or typewritten copy from original material, including from dictated or orally recorded material.


Rendered a text from one language into another, or from an older form of a language into the modern form.

Since you will need to provide the names of the creators and contributors, you will want those names to be listed and spelled consistently.  This can be tricky with South Asian names as these may or may not include fully spelled out or abbreviated caste names, family names, nicknames, and clan names.  It would be very helpful to the library, if you had a list of names of the contributors and creators and we could then ask you how you wanted them listed in the archive.  Here is what such a list might look like

The name

How to write it in the DL

What each part of the name means

Shobhana Lakshmi Chelliah

Chelliah, Shobhana Lakshmi

Family Name, Given Name (first), Given Name (Middle)

Rex Rengpu Khullar

Khullar, Rex Rengpu

Clan Name, Given Name, birth order name

Th. Harimohon Singh

Singh, Harimohon Thounaojam

Caste title, Given Name, Family Name



If possible, add information about the the date of what is talked about in the recording.  For example, I may record a personal narrative about a wedding that occurred in 1987.  I make the recording in 2007.  Coverage refers to the 1987 data, the date about the content.   You can also provide the place name of the event.  This is especially useful for photographs. Finally, you can also provide the name of a person in the photograph.



This field reflects when the item was created. Write the year first, the month, then day.  So, for October 10, 2008, the field will look like this 2008-10-10.  You may not know the whole date, but provide as much as you can.  If you are not sure, you can use a question mark after the date like this: 2008-10-10?. If you want to say it is approximately this or that date, you can use a tilde (~) like this: 2008-10-10~. 



Content Description

In the content description you provide the visitor an idea of what this file is about.   If it is a photograph, describe who and/or what is photographed and what the context is, (e.g. a festival or special event). If it is a story, describe what the story is, who is telling it, what village or country they are from.  You can also add additional information about the item, for example, you can say that there are transcriptions, translations, and morphological analysis available in this collection.  we provide the following description template to help keep the content descriptions somewhat consistent.  The genres are based on what we have seen so far in the CORSAL collection.


Description template



This is a retelling of {   } narrated by {  }. The story is about {No more than 100-word description of story}.

This is a retelling of the Pear Story narrated by Beshot Khullar. In this story a boy steals a basket of pears and meets and shares pears with three other boys.   

Traditional story 

This is a traditional story about {No more than 100-word description}.

This is a traditional story about when Benglam chases a tiger and traps him in a tree, after which the tiger makes Benglam answer riddles.



This is a monologue on {maximum 100 word description}.

This is a monologue on why it is important to document a language.


This is a description of {maximum 100 word description}.

This is a description of how to harvest rice from the paddy. First, they gather the rice on a winnowing fan to separate the husk. After that, the rice is stored in a granary.


This is a performance of {maximum 100 word description}.

This is a performance of housewarming songs. These songs are performed as part of the spring festival by men and women.

Personal narrative

This is a personal narrative on {maximum 100 word description}.

This is a personal narrative about the time Sumshot Khular played soccer in Texas.


This is a conversation about {maximum 100 word description}.

This is a conversation about preparations for a festival.  Father and son discuss what needs to be cooked for the feast.


This is a discussion about {maximum 100 word description}.

This is a discussion about how to weave fishing baskets in the traditional way.


This is an elicitation about {maximum 100 word description}.

This is an elicitation about modal verbs based on pictures and responsive sentences.

Analytical discussion 

This is an analytical discussion about {maximum 100 word description}.

This is an analytical discussion about modals based on 20 sentences collected through elicitation. The speaker and researcher identify substitutions for the modals that occur in a previously elicited list of sentences.


This is a speech about {topic} given at {event, setting, time, place}

This is a speech about the importance of language documentation at the workshop for digital archiving at IGNCA in June 2019.


This is a reading of {maximum 100 word description}

This is a reading of a word list on tone in compounds.


This is an interview of {maximum 100 word description}

This is an interview of two young Manipuri girls about going to school in Manipur.


This is a photograph of {maximum 100 word description}

This is a photograph of chickens in a field in Chandel during harvest time. They are of interest because of their unique plumage.


This is a manuscript about {maximum 100 word description}

This manuscript is of handwritten field notes on the Lamkang language from three Lamkang researchers collected at the 2013 orthography workshop at Don Bosco.


These are analytic notes on {maximum 100 word description}

These are analytical notes on discourse markers in Lamkang.

Here is a brief list of other things the depositor may want to include in the description

  1. Birth year/ gender/ occupation/ village the speaker is from
  2. The specific variety they are speaking (Yasin Burushaski v. Nagar), or whether they’re code-switching
  3. Whether there is a transcription/IGT, other tellings, any related items
  4. Notes on the setting/context of recording (e.g., recorded during a wedding)

Physical Description

Describe the physical qualities of the item: state what type of item it is (photograph, audio recording, video recording, etc.), the length or size (physical dimensions, duration in minutes, etc.), what materials it is made of, if relevant (wood, metal, paper, etc.).


1 recording (5 min.)

80 p. : col. ill. ; 28 cm. 

18 p. ; pdf


Subject and Keywords

The Subject and Keyword fields are your tools you can use to increase the use of your item.  We suggest provide at least three keywords for the following types of information:

  1. Grammatical information  (e.g., serial verbs, grammaticalization, relative clauses, agglutination)
  2. Ethnological (e.g, rice, bamboo, medicinal plants, dances, implements, clothing, etc)
  3. Communicative (e.g., questions, exclamations, warnings, greetings)