Batch import descriptive metadata and digital object

Dusan Katuscak
I greet everyone from Slovakia (Europe)

  1. I would like to use Tainacan for the digital library in the State Scientific Library in Banská Bystrica. We have several thousand scanned books.
  2. I put the scanned books in Tainacan without any problems.
  3. the name of the file is the barcode of the specimen that is in the library.
  4. In Slovakia, we use the central library system Virtua (ILS) - this is a set catalog of libraries in MARC 21.
  5. In the ILS Virtua system, there are bibliographic records (descriptive metadata) for those objects that are in Tainacan. In ILS, however, the barcode is not in the bibliographic record, but in the specimen record (item record).
  6. We can export descriptive metadata to objects in Tainacan by putting the barcode in field 949 with the barcode of the specimen we have in Tainacan.


  1. It is possible to batch upload images to Tainacan with descriptive metadata if the document ID (barcode) in Tainacan is e.g. in field 949 subfield “a” (or in field 856 Marc21)? (949 Tag 949 - OCLC Support)
  2. What exactly should the CSV look like for a batch upload of a digital object (eg a book) together with descriptive metadata (eg in Dublin Core)?
    I will be grateful for all practical advice.
    Best regards, Dušan

Hi @Dusan_Katuscak, greetings from Brazil :wink:. Let me see if I can help you

Not exactly. If I understood correctly you want to batch upload imagens to one or more Tainacan items based on a metadata that you created (in this case this so called 949 field). You can achieve this in another way. First, assuming that you have your collection, metadata and items already filled on Tainacan, go to the Export Collection option in the Tainacan Admin panel then Download the CSV version of it.

With the CSV on hands, open it in a spreadsheet editor, such as LibreOffice Calc or Google Docs Spreadsheets (MS Office will do too, but be aware that sometimes saving CSV files from it messes with the file header). You will see that, in addition to all your metadata, there will be an extra column named special_item_id. This column contains the item ID for the Tainacan database. Now, using the spreadsheet, you are able to map the correct column based on the field that you want to use as reference (this 949 one) to the appropriate document paths, using special_document. How will that work? Once you go to the CSV Importer page, you will see that the Importer Form has an option to “Update” instead of create new items. If this is checked and the CSV file that you upload has the special_item_id field, the item of that ID will be updated. In the next answer I’ll talk more about the how the special_document works.

So as we mentioned above, you can use the CSV importer not only to create items, but also to update them. If you want to associate multiple documents to multiple items, this is the way to go. First, you need them uploaded to some online public link. This may be an FTP server, another folder on your own server where the site is hosted… or even yours WordPress media gallery (just keep in mind that having them there will duplicate files because once imported to Tainacan, the images are stored in another place). Once your images are public via link, you have to set this public path as the value for the special_document field in the CSV file, for example file: To learn more about this, I recommend reading this documentation:

I know it is not easy to get this working in one simple step, it takes a bit to get used to. My suggestion is to make tests with just two items at first, until you understand better how the CSV headers and file paths works. We’re here for any doubts, if you wish to share your data with any error.

Also, another tip is that if you really haven’t created any item and will insert the data manually, a nice flow to try is using the “Bulk addition” page, which you can find in the “Create new item” dropdown of your collection.

Dear Mateus,
I’m impressed how quickly you responded. It’s great. It means that you trust Tainacan and can give good advice. I have a conference in the next few days, then I will try to follow your instructions. Many thanks.

po 10. 10. 2022 o 16:52 Mateus M Luna via Tainacan <> napísal(a):

1 Like