Converting into RDF, and full-text indexing

I’d like to provide a bit more detail regarding two important elements of MESA: the resources available to assist projects in converting their metadata into the MESA-specified RDF, and information on indexing full-text to be included for searching in MESA.

Converting into RDF

In addition to the XSLT example files on the Collex wiki, Jeffrey Witt, editor of the Petrus Plaoul Electronic Critical Edition, one of the MESA partner projects, has created a Ruby script to automate creation of his project’s RDF files. It is tailored to suit the Petrus Plaoul project, but is customizable to other locations and other types of data (particularly TEI). The Ruby script is available at, and Dr. Witt has generously offered to help others customize it – you can contact him at

If you are developing scripts or tools for generating MESA-specified RDF and you would like to share them with other partner projects, please let us know and we will post them on the MESA page of the Collex Wiki.

Indexing Full Text

If you would like to include full-text for any item, to make it available for searching in the MESA interface, you will need to use <collex:text> in your RDF. Either 1) the @rdf:resource attribute may point to a URL to a web-accessible, plain text transcription of the object, or 2) plain text may be included as the content for <collex:text>. The plain-text is only included for indexing purposes. When a record is found via a full-text search, the user will need to follow the link to the source website in order to view the full-text.

It is important to note that <collex:text> may only appear once in an RDF file. We expect that there will be many instances where a single object may have multiple textual instances attached to it, for example, a manuscript with a diplomatic transcription, normalized transcription, and description. In order for all three texts to be available for searching, you would need to create one RDF file for each one. The fields <collex:source_xml> and <collex:source_html> would be used to point to the encoded source for the texts. Although they are not required, we recommend that projects use <dcterms:hasPart> and <dcterms:isPartOf> to link together the various RDF records describing different pieces of a single object.

Please comment here, or contact us, if you have questions relating to RDF generation, full-text indexing, or anything else relating to MESA.

MESA metadata guidelines now available

The requirements for metadata, intended for projects federated by MESA, are now available on the ARC wiki. ARC is Advanced Research Consortium, the umbrella organization for MESA and sister “nodes” NINES, 18thConnect, REKn, and ModNets.

Metadata in MESA, as in the other ARC nodes, is based on a series of fields, represented in a standard format called the Resource Description Framework, or RDF.

The standard guidelines for ARC RDF are described here:

The requirements and recommendations for MESA, where they differ from the standard guidelines, are here:

Sample XSLT (designed to output RDF from the TEI manuscript description element), plus a sample RDF file, is here:

We’ll be bringing in our first twelve projects through early 2013. During the intervening time, we’ll be refining our policies and procedures for bringing in new projects and collections. If you are interested in joining MESA next year, keep your eyes here and in the meantime familiarize yourself with the specifications. Questions or comments? Post them here!

Welcome to MESA blog!

Today was our PR blitz, so I hope that will draw some folks to see the MESA blog. Please read About MESA and take a look at our FAQ. If you have questions that aren’t answered there, leave a comment and we’ll do our best to answer.

Although we have our initial twelve resources to be included in the MESA federation all lined up, we’ve already started compiling a list of resources (projects, editions, collections, what-have-you) that we’d like to include. If you have a favorite, please let us know either in a comment here or via email.

I aim to update the blog regularly, so please come back soon to see what we are up to. And remember we’ll be launching at the end of 2012!

MESA has been funded!

We are very pleased to announce that, following a one-year planning grant, the Mellon Foundation has awarded the Medieval Electronic Scholarly Alliance a three-year implementation grant.

MESA serves two related purposes: to develop a federation of digital medieval resources, and to provide recommendations for technological and scholarly standards for electronic scholarship in all areas of medieval studies. MESA is a federation both in the sense of a community – of scholars, librarians, and students developing and using digital resources – and as a website that federates disparate collections and projects. The website will provide a search across various types of resources spanning the disciplines, geographical areas, and temporal spans that make up the Middle Ages, in the broadest sense.

During the second half of 2012, we will be loading the first group of 12 resources into the MESA website. The site will launch with those resources in late 2012. At the same time we will be developing our procedures and policies for including other resources in the site. We have already started compiling a list of projects and collections that we would like to include in MESA in the second phase of the project (after the initial launch). If you have a project that you would like to see included in MESA, please let us know!

MESA co-directors:

Timothy Stinson, North Carolina State University
Dot Porter, Indiana University Bloomington

See the press release on the NCSU Blog: