Descriptive metadata, iconclass, and digitized emblem literature

Timothy W. Cole, Myung Ja K. Han, Jordan A. Vannoy

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Early Modern emblems combined text and image. Though there were many variants, the archetypical emblem literary form (mid-sixteenth through mid-eighteenth centuries) consisted of an image (the pictura), a text inscription (the inscriptio), and a text epigram (the subscriptio), the last usually in verse. Digitized emblem literature poses interesting challenges as regards content and metadata granularity, the use of interdisciplinary controlled vocabularies, and the need to present digitized primary sources in a complex network of associated sources, derivatives, and contemporaneous context. In this paper, we describe a digital library Web application designed to better support the ways emblem scholars search for and use digitized emblem books, focusing on metadata design, issues of resource granularity and identification, and the use of Linked Data Web services for Iconclass, a multilingual classification system for cultural heritage art and images. Outcomes to date, achieved by emblem scholars and librarians working in collaboration, provide a case study for multi-faceted, interactive approaches to curating mixed text-image digital resources and the use of Linked Data vocabulary services. Lessons learned highlight the value of librarian-scholar collaboration and help to illustrate why digital libraries need to move beyond merely disseminating digitized book surrogates.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationJCDL '12 - Proceedings of the 12th ACM/IEEE-CS Joint Conference on Digital Libraries
Number of pages10
StatePublished - 2012
Event12th ACM/IEEE-CS Joint Conference on Digital Libraries, JCDL '12 - Washington, DC, United States
Duration: Jun 10 2012Jun 14 2012

Publication series

NameProceedings of the ACM/IEEE Joint Conference on Digital Libraries
ISSN (Print)1552-5996


Other12th ACM/IEEE-CS Joint Conference on Digital Libraries, JCDL '12
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityWashington, DC


  • digital humanities
  • emblem books
  • iconclass
  • metadata

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Engineering


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