Lessons Learned in Implementing the Extended Date/Time Format in a Large Digital Library Page: 1
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Proc. Int'l Conf on Dublin Core and Metadata Applications 2013
Lessons Learned in Implementing the Extended Date/Time
Format in a Large Digital Library
Hannah Tarver Mark Phillips
University of North Texas University of North Texas
Libraries, USA Libraries, USA
In 2012, the University of North Texas (LINT) Libraries implemented the Library of Congress
Extended Date/Time Format (EDTF) into the metadata guidelines for their digital holdings which
now contain more than 460,000 records. This paper discusses the evaluation process to identify
the number of previously-existing dates that meet EDTF standards and those that need to be
edited for conformance. It also outlines practical steps used for implementing the standard, such
as date validation for metadata creators and changes to date displays for public users. Finally, it
presents some of the challenges encountered during the implementation process and
considerations for other institutions that may want to use the EDTF.
Keywords: metadata; date formats; standardization; Extended Date/Time Format; standards
implementations; digital libraries
The University of North Texas (UNT) Libraries have made digital library holdings a priority by
supporting the creation of digital library infrastructure and the growth of digital collections that
are primarily open access. The UNT digital collections comprise three public-facing repositories:
The Portal to Texas History (http://texashistory.unt.edu), the UNT Digital Library
(http://digital.library.unt.edu), and The Gateway to Oklahoma History
(http://gateway.okhistory.org). In total these collections contain more than 460,000 digitized and
born-digital objects, including text, images, and audio/visual items. All of the item records
follow the same metadata schema, which is based on Dublin Core.
Before formally switching to the Extended Date/Time Format (EDTF) as the primary date
standard, the UNT Libraries used the International Standards Organization (ISO) 8601 standard
for formatting dates: Data elements and interchange formats - Information interchange -
Representation of dates and times. Although the ISO standard meets usage needs for general
dates, it does not address many of the complex kinds of dates represented in library and archival
collections, such as approximate or partially-known dates, which are common for historical
Due to the large range of date types, the UNT Libraries decided to move to the EDTF because
it contained standardized ways of representing many of the dates that the ISO standard does not
address. Although this shift has primarily been positive, any change involves some adjustments
and challenges. This paper will outline steps that the UINT Libraries have taken to implement the
EDTF, including the evaluation of existing dates for compliance with the EDTF, the use of date
validation for metadata creators, and the normalization of date displays for users. Additionally, it
will summarize some of the challenges that the UINT Libraries have encountered and
considerations for other institutions.
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Tarver, Hannah & Phillips, Mark Edward. Lessons Learned in Implementing the Extended Date/Time Format in a Large Digital Library, paper, July 2013; (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc174739/m1/1/: accessed December 18, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .