Jane Davis, Vice President of Access and Digital Services, Linda Hall Library

Proposal Type


  • Seeking Additional Presenters
  • Seeking Specific Expertise
  • Seeking General Feedback and Interest
Related Topics
  • Archives
  • Digital
  • Science and Tech

This hands-on workshop will demonstrate free or under-utilized tools to automate or streamline metadata creation for digital projects.  We will explore formulas, macros, action wizards, and scripts for Microsoft Excel, Google Spreadsheets, Powershell, and Adobe Acrobat and provide exercises to generate metadata for a variety of different document types and formats. Participants are encouraged to bring computers and sample documents or projects for description. Participants should walk away from the workshop with sample formulas and scripts that can be applied to their digital projects immediately and with the knowledge and tools to create custom scripts or formulas once they are home.


The success or failure of digital history projects depends heavily on the quality of the metadata used to describe the project and its contents. Thorough and accurate metadata is essential to a project’s usability and discoverability, but such metadata can be time-consuming and resource-heavy to create. Fortunately, there are free and underutilized tools that can aid in the creation of metadata. Microsoft Excel formulas can be leveraged to extract information out existing metadata or filenames or to generate new metadata. PowerShell is a task automation and file management framework that is included in Windows and is free to Mac OS users and can be used to create scripts to name files, extract automatically generated metadata from files, and even capture information from online resources. Adobe Acrobat, a tool that many professionals use to create PDF files has free plugins and action wizards that can be used to extract information from the text within the document to generate metadata.

This workshop will demonstrate how to take advantage of spreadsheet formulas, Powershell scripts, and simple javascript to manipulate and create metadata. All the tools featured or discussed in the workshop will be either free to the public or currently available with commonly used packages like Microsoft Office, Google Docs, Adobe Acrobat, and PowerShell.

An additional panelist or two would be helpful to coordinate the demonstration and provide familiarity with Mac IOS systems.  Individuals who have used Powershell, Excel formulas, and Acrobat in the Mac environment would be ideal.  Feedback about the usefulness of the workshop or any areas the workshop should explore is welcome.

If you have a direct offer of assistance, sensitive criticism, or wish to pass along someone’s contact information confidentially, please get in contact directly: Jane Davis, [email protected]

If you have general ideas or feedback to share, please feel free to use the comments feature below.

All feedback and offers of assistance should be submitted by July 2, 2017.


  1. Heather Heckler says:

    This sounds like a great practical workshop. It would be great to add some information on what level of technical ability or familiarity with metadata participants will need to get the most out of your workshop.

    1. Jane Davis says:

      Great idea, Heather. I will definitely add that information in. In theory, a lot of the tricks should be accessible to those who have a basic understanding of how Excel formulas work or are at least comfortable enough with the idea to copy and paste pre-written formulas into their projects. Powershell is a little more tricky, but again I’d planned to have a lot of pre-written scripts and formulas that could be plug and play.

  2. Melissa Barthelemy says:

    Hi Jane — my wife who is a MLIS student will be at NCPH with me and she is looking forward to attending this workshop. She said that these are skills she is still learning so she is not at the level to be able to help present but is looking forward to the session. Best, Melissa

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