Cataloging & Classification Quarterly

Volume 40, no. 3-4, 2005



Metadata: A Cataloger’s Primer

Richard P. Smiraglia, PhD


Introduction / by Richard P. Smiraglia


Part I: Intellectual Foundations

Understanding Metadata and Metadata Scheme

By Jane Greenberg

Abstract: Although the development and implementation of metadata schemes over the last decade has been extensive, research examining the sum of these activities is limited. This limitation is likely due to the massive scope of the topic. A framework is needed to study the full extent of, and functionalities supported by, metadata schemes. Metadata schemes developed for information resources are analyzed. To begin, I present a review of the definition of metadata, metadata functions, and several metadata typologies. Next, a conceptualization for metadata schemes is presented. The emphasis is on semantic container-like metadata schemes (data structures). The last part of this paper introduces the MODAL (Metadata Objectives and principles, Domains, and Architectural Layout) framework as an approach for studying metadata schemes. The paper concludes with a brief discussion on value of frameworks for examining metadata schemes, including different types of metadata schemes. Keywords: Information resources, Metadata, Metadata schemes, Data structures, MODAL (Metadata Objectives and principles, Domains, and Architectural Layout)

Metadata and Bibliographic Control: Soul-mates or Two Solitudes?

by Lynne Howarth

ABSTRACT: The historical interweaving of evolving trends and applications in metadata and bibliographic control seems largely absent from the literature. To address this apparent gap in perspective, we trace some historic and more recent developments related to each, and speculate on future directions. Cataloguing rules are ancestors to the current lineage of bibliographic standards. Metadata schemas have been developed to meet the needs of particular fields or domains and to support a variety of functions related to resource discovery. While differences between the tools of bibliographic control and of metadata application still remain, the similarities have become sufficient to warrant a confluence in terminology and definition. While internationally determined codes and standards have fostered the goal of universal bibliographic control, syntactic structures, semantic element sets, transmission protocols, cross-schema mappings, and metadata harvesting tools have been instrumental to realizing the concept of interoperability.

Metadata, Metaphor, and Metonymy

by D. Grant Campbell

Abstract: This chapter uses a distinction common in literary studies to distinguish between metadata applications for discovery and metadata applications for use. The author argues that metadata systems for resource discovery, such as the Dublin Core, are continuous with the traditions of bibliographic description, and rely on a principle of metonymy: the use of a surrogate or adjunct object to represent another. Metadata systems for resource use, such as semantic markup languages, are continuous with the traditions of database design, and rely on a principle of metaphor: the use of a paradigmatic image or design which conditions how the user will respond to and interact with the data. Keywords. Metadata, Cataloging, Bibliographic description, Literary displacement, Synchony, Diachrony, Metaphor, Metonymy, Synechdoche.

Applied Research 1:
An Exploratory Study of Metadata Creation in a Health Care Agency

by Lea Ferraioli

Abstract: Traditional paper documents, as containers of information, remain a primary source of organizational knowledge as well as function as vehicles of communication. Despite the increasing use of electronic mail and other digital technologies, the entrenchment of paper documents in the fabric of work practices demands that attention be paid to how they are managed for organizational effectiveness. A shift is occurring from the classical empiricist idea of a universe of knowledge to the historicist paradigm which embraces context and a belief that knowledge develops within knowledge domains or discourse communities. The workplace is likened to an information ecology where the study of personal classification schemes can be firmly positioned within an epistemological framework. This exploratory study of the personal metadata creation process builds grounded theory as it found that temporal, spatial, and contextual factors influenced the creation of three levels of metadata along a continuum of Abstract:ion. Loss of intellectual content may occur equally as a result of both high and low levels of Abstract:ion. Personal metadata were also found to reflect the participant’s situational and domain specific knowledge. The ‘epistemological potential of documents’, therefore, provides an impetus for the scholarly inquiry of personal, human-created metadata by positioning such inquiry firmly within a pragmatic context. Keywords: Knowledge domains, Discourse communities, Information ecologies, Personal metadata.

Applied Research 2:
The Defining Element—A Discussion of the Creator Element within Metadata Schemas

by Jennifer Cwiok

Abstract: The speed with change takes place is startling and has left the information community with little time to consider how the development of electronic resources and the metadata schemas created to describe them effect how we view a work and its components. In terms of the attribution of authorship in the context of electronic works, this is a salient point. How does one determine authorship of a complex electronic resource, which is the culmination of the work of a myriad of entities? How does one determine the authorship when the content of the electronic resource may change at any moment without warning? What is the semantic content of the element that denotes authorship or responsibility for an electronic resource and how does the term used determine the element’s meaning? The conceptual difficulty in the definition of the Creator element is deciphering what exactly the metadata schema should be describing. We also need to establish what purpose the element is intended to serve. In essence, we are at a crossroads. It is clear that once a work is digitized it exists in a significantly different medium, but how do we provide access to it? It is necessary to critically assess the accuracy of digital surrogates and to note that webmasters have a significant amount of intellectual responsibility invested in the sites they create. The solution to the problem in the Creator element may lie in moving from the concept of “authorship” and “origination” to a concept of intellectual responsibility. Perhaps the problematic nature of the Creator element allows us to move forward in our assessment and treatment of knowledge. One solution may be to standardize the definitions within various element sets. As the semantic web continues to grow and librarians strive to catalog electronic resources, the establishment of standard definitions for elements is becoming more relevant and important. Keywords: Attribution, Authorship, Creator element, Origination, Semantic content

Applied Research 3:
Content Metadata — An Analysis of Etruscan Artifacts in a Museum of Archeology

by Richard P. Smiraglia

Abstract: Metadata schemes target resources as information-packages, without attention to the distinction between content and carrier. Most schema are derived without empirical understanding of the concepts that need to be represented, the ways in which terms representing the central concepts might best be derived, and how metadata descriptions will be used for retrieval. Research is required to resolve this dilemma, and much research will be required if the plethora of schemes that already exist are to be made efficacious for resource description and retrieval. Here I report the results of a preliminary study, which was designed to see whether the bibliographic concept of “the work” could be of any relevance among artifacts held by a museum. I extend the “works metaphor” from the bibliographic to the artifactual domain, by altering the terms of the definition slightly, thus: 1) instantiation is understood as content genealogy. Case studies of Etruscan artifacts from the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology are used to demonstrate the inherence of the work in non-documentary artifacts. Keywords: Artifacts, Cultural information resources, Instantiation, Content genealogy, Content metadata

Metadata Bibliography

Abstract: A select bibliography of metadata tools for librarians, and recent metadata research is presented.


Part II: How-to create, Apply, and Use Metadata

From Cataloging to Metadata: Dublin Core Records for the Library Catalog

by Anita Coleman

Abstract: The Dublin Core is an international standard for describing and cataloging all kinds of information resources: books, articles, videos, and World Wide Web (web) resources. Sixteen Dublin Core (DC) elements and the steps for cataloging web resources using these elements and minimal controlled values are discussed, general guidelines for metadata creation are highlighted, a worksheet is provided to create the DC metadata records for the library catalog, and sample resource descriptions in DC are included.
Keywords: Dublin Core, Cataloging, Resource description.

Metadata Standards for Archival Control: An Introduction to EAD and EAC

by Alexander C. Thurman

Abstract: The goal of cataloging is to provide maximum access to organized information. Archival materials—the unique, unpublished byproducts of the everyday activities of organizations, families, or individuals—are valuable information resources that have been difficult to integrate into the rapidly consolidating bibliographic universe. The formal introduction of Encoded Archival Description (EAD) Version 1.0 in 1998 provided archivists with a powerful tool for overcoming this difficulty. EAD enables the encoding of archival finding aids into records that are platform-independent, machine-readable, and fully searchable, helping to standardize archival descriptive practices while increasing our progress toward union access to archival materials. The related new metadata scheme Encoded Archival Context (EAC) goes further, allowing archivists to encode information about the creators and context of creation of archival materials, and to make that information available to users as an independent resource separate from individual finding aids. This article presents an overview of the role of these metadata standards in the achievement of archival control, featuring a concise guide to the structure and use of EAD (Version 2002) and an introduction to the emerging EAC standard. Keywords: Archival materials, Encoded Archival Description (EAD), Encoded Archival Context (EAC).

Introduction to XML

by Patrick Yott

Abstract: This chapter begins with a brief history of markup technologies and an examination of two of the most commonly encountered markup languages: HTML and XML. We will investigate the basic structural components of an XML document and examine the rules for creating "well-formed" documents. The concept of data modeling and document "validity" will be demonstrated using a simple DTD (Document Type Definition), and several markup examples will follow. The notions of XML as a data interchange system and XSLT as a transformation and display language will be examined. Keywords: Markup technologies, Extensible Markup Language (XML), Document Type Definition (DTD).

METS: the Metadata Encoding and Transmission Standard

by Linda Cantara

Abstract: The Metadata Encoding and Transmission Standard (METS) is a data communication standard for encoding descriptive, administrative, and structural metadata regarding objects within a digital library, expressed using the XML Schema Language of the World Wide Web Consortium. An initiative of the Digital Library Federation, METS is under development by an international editorial board and is maintained in the Network Development and MARC Standards Office of the Library of Congress. Designed in conformance with the Open Archival Information System (OAIS) Reference Model, a METS document encapsulates digital objects and metadata as Information Packages for transmitting and/or exchanging digital objects to and from digital repositories, disseminating digital objects via the Web, and archiving digital objects for long-term preservation and access. This paper presents an introduction to the METS standard and through illustrated examples, demonstrates how to build a METS document. Keywords. Metadata, XML (Document Markup Language), Digital libraries--Administration, Digital preservation

Planning and Implementing a Metadata-driven Digital Repository

by Michael Chopey

Abstract: Metadata is used to organize and control a wide range of different types of information object collections, most of which are accessed via the World Wide Web. This chapter presents a brief introduction to the purpose of metadata and how it has developed, and an overview of the steps to be taken and the functional expertise required in planning for and implementing the creation, storage, and use of metadata for resource discovery in a local repository of information objects. Keywords: Metadata, Resource discovery, Information objects, Local repositories

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