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Introduction to Metadata 3.0 \u00a92008 J. Paul Getty Trust
Setting the Stage
Anne J. Gilliland
Metadata, literally \u201cdata about data,\u201d has become a widely used yet still

\ue001requently underspeci\ue000ed term that is understood in di\ue001\ue001erent ways by the
diverse pro\ue001essional communities that design, create, describe, preserve,
and use in\ue001ormation systems and resources. It is a construct that has been
around \ue001or as long as humans have been organizing in\ue001ormation, albeit
transparently in many cases, and today we create and interact with it in
increasingly digital ways. For the past hundred years at least, the creation
and management o\ue001 metadata has primarily been the responsibility
o\ue001 in\ue001ormation pro\ue001essionals engaged in cataloging, classi\ue000cation, and
indexing; but as in\ue001ormation resources are increasingly put online by the
general public, metadata considerations are no longer solely the province
o\ue001 in\ue001ormation pro\ue001essionals. Althoughmetadata is arguably a much less
\ue001amiliar term among creators and consumers o\ue001 networked digital content
who are not in\ue001ormation pro\ue001essionals per se, these same individuals are
increasingly adept at creating, exploiting, and assessing user-contributed
metadata such as Web page title tags, \ue001olksonomies, and social bookmarks.
Schoolchildren and college students are taught in in\ue001ormation literacy
programs to look \ue001or metadata such as provenance and date in\ue001ormation
in order to ascertain the authoritativeness o\ue001 in\ue001ormation that they retrieve
on the Web. Thus it has become more important than ever that not only
in\ue001ormation pro\ue001essionals but also other creators and users o\ue001 digital
content understand the critical roles o\ue001 di\ue001\ue001erent types o\ue001 metadata in
ensuring accessible, authoritative, interoperable, scaleable, and preservable
cultural heritage in\ue001ormation and record-keeping systems.

Until the mid-1990s,metadata was a term used primarily by
communities involved with the management and interoperability o\ue001
geospatial data and with data management and systems design and main-
tenance in general. For these communities,metadata re\ue001erred to a suite
o\ue001 industry or disciplinary standards as well as additional internal and
external documentation and other data necessary \ue001or the identi\ue000cation,
representation, interoperability, technical management, per\ue001ormance, and
use o\ue001 data contained in an in\ue001ormation system.

Setting the Stage
1 o\ue001 19
Introduction to Metadata 3.0 \u00a92008 J. Paul Getty Trust
Perhaps a more use\ue001ul, \u201cbig picture\u201d way o\ue001 thinking about
metadata is as the sum total o\ue001 what one can say about anyinfor mation
object at any level o\ue001 aggregation.\u00b9 In this context, an in\ue001ormation object

is anything that can be addressed and manipulated as a discrete entity
by a human being or an in\ue001ormation system. The object may comprise a
single item, it may be an aggregate o\ue001 many items, or it may be the entire
database or record-keeping system. Indeed, in any given instance one can
expect to \ue000nd metadata relevant to any in\ue001ormation object existing simul-
taneously at the item, aggregation, and system levels.

In general, all in\ue001ormation objects, regardless o\ue001 the physical or
intellectual \ue001orm they take, have three \ue001eatures\u2014content, context, and
structure\u2014all o\ue001 which can and should be refected through metadata.

\u2022\ue000Content relates to what the object contains or is about and is
intrinsic to an in\ue001ormation object.
\u2022\ue000Context indicates the who, what, why, where, and how aspects
associated with the object\u2019s creation and isextrinsic to an in\ue001or-
mation object.
\u2022\ue000Structure relates to the \ue001ormal set o\ue001 associations within or among
individual in\ue001ormation objects and can beintrinsic orextrinsic
or both.
Cultural heritage in\ue001ormation pro\ue001essionals such as museum
registrars, library catalogers, and archival processors o\ue001ten apply the term
metadata to the value-added in\ue001ormation that they create to arrange,

describe, track, and otherwise enhance access to in\ue001ormation objects
and the physical collections related to those objects. Such metadata is
\ue001requently governed by community-developed and community-\ue001ostered
standards and best practices in order to ensure quality, consistency, and
interoperability. The \ue001ollowing Typology o\ue001 Data Standards organizes
these standards into categories and provides examples o\ue001 each. Markup
languages such as HTML and XML provide a standardized way to struc-
ture and express these standards \ue001or machine processing, publication, and

Library metadata development has been \ue000rst and \ue001oremost about
providing intellectual and physical access to collection materials.Librar y
metadata includes indexes, abstracts, and bibliographic records created
according to cataloging rules (data content standards) such as theAnglo-
Introduction to Metadata
2 o\ue001 19
\u00b9 An in\ue001ormation object is a digital item or group o\ue001 items, regardless o\ue001 type or \ue001ormat, that

can be addressed or manipulated as a single object by a computer. This concept can be
con\ue001using in that it can be used to re\ue001er both to digital \u201csurrogates\u201d o\ue001 original objects or
items (e.g., digitized images o\ue001 works o\ue001 art or material culture, a PDF o\ue001 an entire book)
and to descriptive records relating to objects and/or collections (e.g., catalog records or
\ue000nding aids).

Introduction to Metadata 3.0 \u00a92008 J. Paul Getty Trust
American Cataloguing Rules (AACR) and data structure standards such as
the MARC (Machine-Readable Cataloging) \ue001ormat, as well as data value
standards such as the Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH) or the
Art & Architecture Thesaurus (AAT). Such bibliographic metadata has

been systematically and cooperatively created and shared since the 1960s
and made available to repositories and users through automated systems
such as bibliographic utilities, online public access catalogs (OPACs), and
commercially available databases. Today this type o\ue001 metadata is created
not only by humans but also in automated ways through such means as
metadata mining, metadata harvesting, and Web crawling. Automation o\ue001
metadata will inevitably continue to expand with the development o\ue001 the
Resource Description Framework (RDF) and the Semantic Web, which
are discussed later in this book.

A large component o\ue001 archival and museum metadata creation
activities has traditionally been \ue001ocused on context. Elucidating and
preserving context is what assists with identi\ue001ying and preserving the
evidential value o\ue001 records and arti\ue001acts in and over time; it is what \ue001acili-
tates the authentication o\ue001 those objects, and it is what assists researchers
with their analysis and interpretation. Archival and manuscript metadata
(more commonly re\ue001erred to as archival description) includes accession

Setting the Stage
3 o\ue001 19
Table 1.A Typology o\ue000 Data Standards

Datas t r u c t u r e standards (metadata element sets, schemas). These
are \u201ccategories\u201d or \u201ccontainers\u201d of data that make up a record or other
information object.

The set of MARC (Machine-Readable Cataloging format) fields,
Encoded Archival Description (EAD), Dublin Core Metadata Element
Set (DCMES), Categories for the Description of Works of Art
(CDWA), VRA Core Categories

Datav a l u e standards (controlled vocabularies, thesauri, controlled lists). These are the terms, names, and other values that are used to populate data structure standards or metadata element sets.

Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH), Library of Congress
Name Authority File (LCNAF), LC Thesaurus for Graphic Materials
(TGM), Medical Subject Headings (MeSH), Art & Architecture
Thesaurus (AAT), Union List of Artist Names (ULAN), Getty
Thesaurus of Geographic Names (TGN), ICONCLASS

Datac o n t e n t standards (cataloging rules and codes). These are
guidelines for the format and syntax of the data values that are used to
populate metadata elements.

Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules (AACR), Resource Description
and Access (RDA), International Standard Bibliographic Description
(ISBD), Cataloging Cultural Objects (CCO), Describing Archives: A
Content Standard (DACS)

Data format/technical interchange standards (metadata standards
expressed in machine-readable form). This type of standard is often
a manifestation of a particular data structure standard (type 1 above),
encoded or marked up for machine processing.

MARC21, MARCXML, EAD XML DTD, METS, MODS, CDWA Lite XML schema, Simple Dublin Core XML schema, Qualified Dublin Core XML schema, VRA Core 4.0 XML schema

Note: This table is based on the typology of data standards articulated by Karim Boughida, \u201cCDWA Lite for Cataloging Cultural Objects (CCO): A New XML Schema
for the Cultural Heritage Community,\u201d in Humanities, Computers and Cultural Heritage: Proceedings of the XVI International Conference of the Association for
History and Computing: 14\u201317 (September 2005) (Amsterdam: Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, 2005). Available at http://www.knaw.nl/

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