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157 1 4 DIGITAL LIBRARY METADATA Stefan Gradmann Introduction The simplest and broadest definition of metadata states that they are “data about data”. In this sense, metadata can refer to almost anything in the world provided the referenced item can be conceived as ‘data’. A more specific and helpful definition focusing on Digital Libraries is that metadata are structured sets of statements on digital information objects which enable users to identify, retrieve, manage and use such information objects. The statements made in metadata can pertain to different characteristics of the information objects held in Digital Libraries (they may for instance refer to semantic, technical or administrative aspects) and may vary in granularity (between extremes such as the 15 attributes of the Dublin Core Metadata Set (DC) and the hundreds of fields and subfields of MARC21). And, finally, metadata can be part of the information objects or stored separately and then include a link to the objects they refer to. State of the art Types of metadata As in a recent JISC Technology and Standards Watch report (Gartner 2008) the following categories of metadata can be distinguished with respect to the object characteristics they refer to: –  descriptive metadata: these are similar to the traditional catalogue record and contain statements on semantic aspects of the objects enabling retrieval and intellectual assessment (for differences between descriptive metadata and catalogue records one could refer to Gradmann (1998)) –  administrative metadata: the information necessary to curate the object, including as sub-categories •  technical metadata: all technical information (e.g. file format or file size) necessary to store and process the object •  rightsmanagement:declarationsofrightsheldintheobjectandtheinformation necessary to restrict its delivery to those entitled to access it •  digital provenance: information on the creation and subsequent treatment of the digital object, including details of relevant actors for each event in its lifespan BPDG_opmaak_12072010.indd 157 13/07/10 11:51 Stefan Gradmann 158 –  structural metadata: information representing the internal structure of an item so that it can be rendered to the user in a sensible form as well as effectively quoted, enabling external references to its microstructure elements. Additionally, object identifiers should be included here, since they can be considered as a specific meta-statement pertaining to a given object: instead of relating to any particular property they pertain to the object as a whole and imply a statement on its identity. Examples of descriptive metadata frameworks include Dublin Core (http://dublincore. org/) and MODS (Metadata Object Description Schema, mods/) - the former being an extremely simplified set of just 15 attributes like creator or rights, whereas the latter is derived from the rich MARC format and provides a more granular set of approximately 80 attributes. Technical metadata examples include such complex standards as TEI (Text Encoding Initiative, or DocBook ( for textual objects, Metadata for Images in XML (MIX, for still images, MPEG 7 ( for audio objects or MP4 for video. Statements on rights can be expressed using standards such as the XrML (eXtensible Rights Markup Language,, the Open Digital Rights Language (ODRL, or again Online Information eXchange (ONIX, Digital provenance statements can be based on rich standards such as PREMIS (PREservation Metadata Implementation Strategies, http:// and structural metadata include, once again, TEI based statements, but also emerging standards such as Resource Maps as defined by OAI-ORE (Object Reuse and Exchange, Finally, object identifier frameworks include examples such as the Digital Object Identifier (DOI, or Uniform Resource Names (URN, rfc2141). Metadata interoperability The following is a MARC metadata fragment provided by the Library of Congress (and encoded as MARCXML): ?xml version=”1.0” encoding=”UTF-8”?> […] Sandburg, Carl, 1878-1967. Arithmetic / BPDG_opmaak_12072010.indd 158 13/07/10 11:51 DIGITAL LIBRARY METADATA 159 A transformation of this fragment to DC yields the following result: Arithmetic / Sandburg, Carl, 1878-1967. And the same fragment rendered in MODS reads as follows: Arithmetic / Sandburg, Carl 1878-1967 creator The example illustrates the fact that these and other metadata formats have originally been developed independently of each other and differ considerably in syntax and semantics; therefore one of the major problems in the domain always has been, and to some extent still is, the lack of...


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