September 16, 2007

I still do like MODS

Filed under: MODS — Neil Godfrey @ 9:41 am

My recent post titled Criticisms of Mods was a response to encountering some pretty heavy criticisms of it at a recent conference. The criticism did take me by surprise, but there was at the same time a certain disconnect with a number of conference presentations that demonstrated that use of MODS was more widespread than I had realized. (I have discussed previously the Texas Digital Library’s use of MODS for its Thesis and Dissertation collection, and on another blog my own reasons for recommending its use where possible in repositories.)

I have since tried to find support for the specific criticisms without success. The technical issues seemed more strengths than weaknesses, as Jenn Riley has also helpfully explained re the name options in MODS.

My comments on the wide range of dates was meant not as a criticism but as another plus for MODS in the context of digital resources in repositories.

The Minerva project also recommends MODS (note especially slide #43) for a collection of digital resources. A Minerva MODS record for a web site can be seen here.

In support of the benefits of MODS already alluded to above, MODS elements seem particularly suited for the sorts of digital repositories I’ve been working with:

See the list of MODS terms on the LOC site and note also the following from the perspective of the data that is stored into an institutional repository for digital scholarly and other works:

3. typeOfResource

notated music
sound recording-musical
sound recording-nonmusical
sound recording
still image
moving image
three dimensional object
software, multimedia
mixed material

7. physicalDescription

reformattingQuality (access, preservation, replacement)
digitalOrigin (born digital, reformatted digital, digitized microfilm, digitized other analog)

14. relatedItem



15. identifier

type (suggested values: hdl, doi, isbn, isrc, ismn, issn, issue number, istc, lccn, local, matrix number, music publisher, music plate, sici, uri, upc, videorecording identifier, stock number)

16. location


17. accessCondition

And to recap one of the best, given the need for repositories to distinguish preprints, postprints, date submitted, date published, etc.

5. originInfo


Many of the above are also in MARC, but not all of them are as easy to locate in MARC as in MODS, and some MARC equivalents are really “near” equivalents, such as the different fields for rights and conditions of use and reproduction, access, etc. And url locations in MARC can take some thought to work around in cases where there locations within and beyond repositories are involved. There is no doubt MODS, created within the context of the digital world, is easier to work with.


  1. Glad you’ve clarified this. I thought the views about MODS which you reported from the conference were just plain silly and weren’t worthy of a response.

    Comment by simon — November 19, 2007 @ 8:32 am

  2. Ah yes, but method in my madness. If people hear of criticisms it’s good to get the specifics out there — that can sometimes be the best answer. There are some who have held strong suspicions about MODS and I have tried to find out and make clear to the best of my ability the basis of the criticisms that are floating round.

    Comment by neilgodfrey — November 20, 2007 @ 1:08 pm

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