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2 minutes to read Posted on Thursday January 5, 2023

Updated on Monday November 6, 2023

portrait of Henning Scholz

Henning Scholz

Partner & Operations Manager , Europeana Foundation

portrait of Jochen Vermeulen

Jochen Vermeulen

Manager Aggregation Systems , Europeana Foundation

How the Metis Sandbox supports cultural heritage institutions to deliver high-quality data

Increasing the amount of high-quality data available through the Europeana website is a continuing priority as the Europeana Initiative starts to deploy the common European data space for cultural heritage. Explore the products and services the Initiative has developed to help aggregators and cultural heritage institutions to submit high-quality data to Europeana, including the Metis Sandbox.

Painting of people sat in cafes beside a palm tree and water, with a sailboat on it and mountains in the distance
French Riviera
Vaszary, János
Slovak national gallery

The more you give - the more you get. This tagline summarises why the Europeana Initiative believes that investing in data quality matters. Aiming for the highest possible quality of metadata published on the Europeana website (for example, with meaningful titles and descriptions, contextual information about the subject or the creator of the object, information in multiple languages) will make it more likely that the content someone is looking for will be returned in search results. If the content is of high quality (with direct links to objects, and high resolution images), it is more likely that it will be used by teachers, students, researchers and creatives. Ultimately, the higher the quality of the data (the more you give), the more likely it is that cultural heritage institutions will be able to engage new audiences in new ways and have more visibility and relevance in society (the more you get).

Tools to support data partners and aggregators 

Together with our partners, the Europeana Initiative offers products, services, tools and frameworks which support cultural heritage institutions in their efforts to manage and deliver high-quality data to Europeana. For example, the Europeana Publishing Framework offers guidelines around the quality of content and metadata shared with Europeana, and is supported by the Europeana Publishing Guide

The Europeana Data Statistics Dashboard helps cultural heritage institutions to understand more about the quality of the data they have published on the Europeana website. The Dashboard offers a good overview of several data quality dimensions for a given dataset, data provider, provider or even country. This makes it possible to identify areas for improvement. Watch a video about the Dashboard below.

Another tool, developed by partners of the EnrichEuropeana+ Generic Services project, is the EDM Tier Checker extension for Google Chrome. This simple tool can be installed from the Chrome Web Store. It gives aggregators - and anyone with an interest! - a quick and easy way to view objects returned by a Europeana search by the different quality categories for content and metadata, which we refer to as ‘tiers.’ See it in action in the image below.

A search page on the Europeana website overlaid by a small box 'the EDM tier checker'
Screenshot of the EDM tier checker
A search page on the Europeana website overlaid by a small box 'the EDM tier checker'

The Data Statistics Dashboard and the EDM Tier Checker are products developed using Europeana’s APIs. The former was developed by the Europeana Foundation, the latter is a product developed by partners. This shows how others can contribute to the suite of products that support data quality, addressing use cases not covered by Europeana Foundation developed products and sharing them with the community.

The Metis Sandbox 

The most powerful product that the Europeana Initiative has developed to support the publication of high-quality data is the Metis Sandbox. Unlike the tools above, the Metis Sandbox allows data providers to evaluate the quality of data before it is published on the Europeana website, as it allows them to simulate the enrichment and publication procedure that Europeana will perform on their data. This means they can get feedback, see what their data would look like on the actual Europeana website and get insights into the quality of the data. The application helps aggregators and cultural heritage institutions get a sense of how well-prepared their data is for ingestion by Europeana.

The development of the Metis Sandbox began under the Europeana Common Culture Generic Services project, and aimed to shorten the feedback loop between data partners and the Europeana Data Publishing Services (DPS) team. Using the Metis Sandbox, a data partner can work on the data without involving the Europeana DPS team. Data issues can be fixed at an earlier stage and feedback from cultural heritage institutions can be sought before the data is submitted to Europeana. This reduces a lot of the back and forth communication between institutions, an aggregator and the DPS team to make data ready for publication in Europeana.

Powerful features

The Metis Sandbox is more than just a preview of the data in the Europeana website; it also offers features to analyse the data in a granular way and report the findings. 

For example, through the ‘tier report’ feature, a data provider can find formation on the quality of a specific piece of metadata. The report specifies, for example, the resolution of the image used as a representation of the cultural heritage object and explains why it complies with a particular quality tier. It specifies which metadata fields are expected to have a language attribute, and which fields have the language attribute and which do not. It also provides a full analysis of the quality of the contextual information, and where potentially more contextual information can be provided. This can help to identify areas for improvements, or at least clarifies what can be achieved with the data as it stands.

The most recent feature introduced in the Metis Sandbox is the ability to analyse data quality criteria that are not part of the content or metadata tiers calculation. The titles and descriptions of cultural heritage objects are the first focus for this feature. Using this feature can help answer questions like ‘is this title or description unique?’ or ‘can we expect this title or description to be meaningful based on its length and the type of characters used?’. This way, someone using the Metis Sandbox will be informed of potential problems with titles and descriptions used in the data. Providing at least one of them is mandatory for a metadata record published in Europeana, and so it is expected that the reports about the quality of titles and descriptions will help to improve them over time.

Find out more

This news post kicks off our January Europeana Pro News focus on the Metis Sandbox. In the coming weeks, we will focus on use cases for aggregators and cultural heritage institutions, as well as look to the future of the Metis Sandbox and how you can make the most out of it. Keep reading Pro News for more