Metadata Fellowship for the Digital Media Archive (DMA)

Title: Metadata Fellowship for the Digital Media Archive (DMA)

Division/Department: Technical Services, University of Chicago Library

Reports to: Metadata Analyst Librarian

General Summary:

The Metadata Fellow is responsible for enhancing the metadata for the Mesoamerican holdings within the University of Chicago’s Digital Media Archive (DMA). The DMA is an archive of over 21,000 linguistic and ethnomusicological recordings in analog and digital form, including anthropological field recordings and pedagogical language materials, comprising 1995 separate collections. The DMA has long been maintained as a distinct collection overseen by the Humanities Division: currently, its custodianship is in process of being transferred from the Humanities Division to the University of Chicago Library. The initial stage of the transfer requires updating and enhancement of the rich metadata for the DMA. A significant subset of the DMA is its collection of Mesoamerican materials, which include field recordings of native languages, some of them endangered, from Southern Mexico and Central America; these recordings were made, for the most part, by linguistic and anthropological researchers affiliated with the University of Chicago. The Metadata Fellow will review and, where necessary, revise metadata describing the content of the DMA’s Mesoamerican recordings, bringing it into line with standards recommended by the Online Linguistic Archives Community (OLAC) and other metadata standards. In this way, the fellow will support the activities of the Library’s Digital Collections Program and contribute to enhancing the intellectual access of researchers to the DMA’s rich collections.

The fellow will develop skills and knowledge related to the role of metadata and description in the organization of knowledge and in support of digital scholarship. The fellow will have opportunities to presenting the results of their project to metadata specialists and other librarian groups. The experience will provide the fellow with knowledge of digital collections that contributes to their development as a scholar in their field of study.

While initial appointment is for a single academic quarter, reappointment for additional quarters and/or summer term is anticipated for the successful fellow.

Specific activities will include:

  • Convert free-text descriptions of the genre and content of DMA recordings into OLAC controlled vocabularies.
  • Identify the researchers responsible for individual recordings and check their presence in the ISNI (International Standard Name Identifier) database, and review of consistency in the entry of other personal names in the DMA database.
  • Identify the linguistic families to which individual languages belong and add metadata regarding these families to the DMA database.
  • Communicate with current custodian of DMA and members of the library staff to resolve ambiguous details in current metadata.
  • Participate in meetings and activities relating to the DMA.
  • Prepare report and presentation on project at end of fellowship


  • Enrolled in a UChicago graduate program and in good academic standing during the period of the fellowship
  • Background in linguistics, anthropology, and/or Mesoamerican studies
  • Ability in the close reading and interpretation of texts
  • Ability to understand and apply controlled vocabularies
  • Strong written and oral communication skills

Hours and Schedule: Approximately 15 hours per week

Stipend: $3300 per academic quarter

Start Date: Winter 2019

To Apply:

Interested candidates should send a resume and cover letter highlighting interest in the fellowship and relevant background experience to Thomas Dousa, Metadata Analyst Librarian, The opportunity will remain open until filled.