Metadata Technician

Chicago, IL
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Created: March 8, 2022


At the Obama Foundation, we are guided by a core belief: that ordinary people working together can change history. Our mission is to inspire those people to take action, empower them to change their world for the better, and connect them so they can achieve more together than they can alone. We were founded by community organizers, so when we seek change, we do it by bringing people together.

That approach begins at home, on the South Side of Chicago, where we are building the Obama Presidential Center. The Center represents a historic opportunity for Chicago: a chance to build a world-class museum and public gathering space that celebrates our nation’s first African American President and First Lady, steps away from where he began his career, where she was raised, and where—together—they made their home. But that approach extends to all our work, whether it’s holding leadership training sessions in communities throughout the U.S., bringing local leaders together in countries around the world, working to support the global education of girls, or ensuring young men of color have pathways to opportunity.

The Metadata Technician will work with the Collections Information Specialist and other staff as needed to help establish and maintain intellectual control and discoverability of the Obama Presidential Center (OPC) Museum holdings; expand and enhance the accessibility of descriptive collections information; and provide metadata support for critical collections development, exhibitions development, and collections management activities. To that end, the Metadata Technician will support metadata initiatives including collections cataloging, record enhancement and quality control, and visual description in accordance with current cultural heritage and local standards and best practices; provide research, writing, and editing support for the acquisitions process; assist with report writing, exports, and data analysis, and assist with the development of specific cataloging guidelines as assigned. As part of the Collections Team, the Metadata Technician will help establish, support, and sustain the Obama Presidential Center Museum as a model collecting, educational, and cultural resource and destination in service of the Foundation’s mission and values.

Core Job Responsibilities:
- Cataloging: Following national and institutional standards, catalog museum collections including creating descriptive and authority records from scratch, enhancing existing records, and performing subject analysis. Assist with creating, promoting, and improving approaches to cataloging that are inclusive and culturally sensitive.
- Visual Description: Following best practices and local style guides, create and edit visual descriptions of museum artifacts and images that provide access to audiences with low or no vision.
- Editing and Approving Records: Review, edit, and approve object records, authority records, and acquisitions proposals written by other members of the Museum Team. If assigned, assist with data import and/or normalization.
- Cataloging and Workflow Documentation: When assigned, take the lead on improving or building out data entry guidelines, workflows, definitions, and training materials for cataloging and visual description. Work with the Collections Information Specialist to pilot, test, and improve new workflows. Proactively suggest improvements to work streams and guidelines.
- Collections Development and Research: Assist Collections and Curatorial staff with artifact research and documentation, including maintaining and updating descriptive, historical, and/or provenance information. If requested, prepare acquisitions proposals for presentation at Staff Collections Committee meetings.
- Reporting and Database Support: Run scheduled and ad-hoc reports to support collections development and management, exhibitions development and management, and other critical Museum functions. Provide data entry, data clean-up, and data import/export support as assigned.
- Other Duties as Assigned: Support other initiatives as required.

Key Deliverables / Outcomes
- Complete all cataloging, visual description, research, and data entry assignments in a timely and accurate manner and in keeping with the Collections Information Specialist’s directions.
- Create and maintain accurate, reliable, inclusive/culturally-sensitive, and up-to-date records in the artifacts database in accordance with Collections staff training and instructions.
- Enhance and expand workflow documentation and training materials to inform process improvement.
- Communicate effectively with all stakeholders to ensure they receive timely and reliable information and metadata support.
- Take ownership of reporting on critical museum functions including collections development, registration, and collections management.
- Help foster a collaborative, inclusive, respectful, and productive work environment.

Required Qualifications
- Knowledge of cataloging principles including identity management/authority control and controlled vocabularies; an understanding of the impact of metadata quality on access
- Demonstrated experience creating consistent data while following cataloging and/or processing workflows using content standards such as AACR2, CCO, DACS, or RDA, as well as controlled vocabularies such as AAT, TGN, LCN, LCSH, FAST and local authorities; experience cataloging unique or specialized materials a plus.
- Exceptional written and verbal communication skills; excellent attention to detail without losing sight of the big picture
- Comfortable working with collections databases (or similar systems); some “under-the-hood” skills/experience a plus (e.g. import/export or configuration)
- Excellent organizational skills with demonstrated ability to prioritize, multi-task, and follow through on short-and long-term assignments with minimal supervision
- Strong research skills; knowledge of or an interest in American history, Chicago history, and/or political history preferred
- Ability to understand and apply new information quickly, follow detailed instructions, and adhere to complex workflows
- Interest in advances in the cataloging and metadata profession, including inclusive cataloging and description and linked data.

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Published: Tuesday, March 8, 2022 20:59 UTC

Last updated: Tuesday, March 8, 2022 20:59 UTC