Understanding Metadata and Metadata Schemes

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  • This article was downloaded by: [Florida Atlantic University]On: 10 October 2013, At: 04:16Publisher: RoutledgeInforma Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registered office: Mortimer House,37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK

    Cataloging & Classification QuarterlyPublication details, including instructions for authors and subscription information:http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/wccq20

    Understanding Metadata and Metadata SchemesJane Greenberg aa School of Information and Library Science , University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill ,205 Manning Hall, CB #3360, Chapel Hill, NC E-mail:Published online: 23 Oct 2009.

    To cite this article: Jane Greenberg (2005) Understanding Metadata and Metadata Schemes, Cataloging & ClassificationQuarterly, 40:3-4, 17-36, DOI: 10.1300/J104v40n03_02

    To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1300/J104v40n03_02

    PLEASE SCROLL DOWN FOR ARTICLE

    Taylor & Francis makes every effort to ensure the accuracy of all the information (the Content) containedin the publications on our platform. However, Taylor & Francis, our agents, and our licensors make norepresentations or warranties whatsoever as to the accuracy, completeness, or suitability for any purpose of theContent. Any opinions and views expressed in this publication are the opinions and views of the authors, andare not the views of or endorsed by Taylor & Francis. The accuracy of the Content should not be relied upon andshould be independently verified with primary sources of information. Taylor and Francis shall not be liable forany losses, actions, claims, proceedings, demands, costs, expenses, damages, and other liabilities whatsoeveror howsoever caused arising directly or indirectly in connection with, in relation to or arising out of the use ofthe Content.

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  • PART I:INTELLECTUAL FOUNDATIONS

    Understanding Metadataand Metadata Schemes

    Jane Greenberg

    SUMMARY. Although the development and implementation of meta-data schemes over the last decade has been extensive, research examin-ing the sum of these activities is limited. This limitation is likely due tothe massive scope of the topic. A framework is needed to study the fullextent of, and functionalities supported by, metadata schemes. Metadataschemes developed for information resources are analyzed. To begin, theauthor presents a review of the definition of metadata, metadata functions,and several metadata typologies. Next, a conceptualization for metadataschemes is presented. The emphasis is on semantic container-like meta-data schemes (data structures). The last part of this paper introduces theMODAL (Metadata Objectives and principles, Domains, and Architectural

    Jane Greenberg is Associate Professor, School of Information and Library Science,University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 205 Manning Hall, CB #3360, ChapelHill, NC (E-mail: janeg@ils.unc.edu).

    [Haworth co-indexing entry note]: Understanding Metadata and Metadata Schemes. Greenberg, Jane.Co-published simultaneously in Cataloging & Classification Quarterly (The Haworth Information Press, animprint of The Haworth Press, Inc.) Vol. 40, No. 3/4, 2005, pp. 17-36; and: Metadata: A Catalogers Primer(ed: Richard P. Smiraglia) The Haworth Information Press, an imprint of The Haworth Press, Inc., 2005, pp. 17-36.Single or multiple copies of this article are available for a fee from The Haworth Document Delivery Service[1-800-HAWORTH, 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. (EST). E-mail address: docdelivery@haworthpress.com].

    Available online at http://www.haworthpress.com/web/CCQ 2005 by The Haworth Press, Inc. All rights reserved.

    doi:10.1300/J104v40n03_02 17

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  • Layout) framework as an approach for studying metadata schemes. The pa-per concludes with a brief discussion on the value of frameworks for exam-ining metadata schemes, including different types of metadata schemes.[Article copies available for a fee from The Haworth Document Delivery Ser-vice: 1-800-HAWORTH. E-mail address: Website: 2005 by The Haworth Press, Inc.All rights reserved.]

    KEYWORDS. Information resources, metadata, metadata schemes,data structures, MODAL (Metadata Objectives and principles, Do-mains, and Architectural Layout) framework

    INTRODUCTION

    Digital repositories have grown at an explosive rate over the last de-cade due to new information technologies, particularly those supportingWorld Wide Web (Web) applications. This growth has led to a tremen-dous increase in the need for data management, an intense interest inmetadata in a wide range of communities (e.g., education, government,scientific, business, etc.), and extensive development of metadataschemes. There are hundreds of metadata schemes being used, manyof which are in their second, third, or nth iteration. Many specifica-tions developed for information resources have been endorsed bystandards bodies. For example, the Dublin Core Metadata ElementSet, Version 1.1 (2003) (hereafter referred to as the Dublin Core) hasbeen formally endorsed as a standard by Committe Europen DeNormalisation (CEN) as CEN Workshop Agreement (CWA) 13874(http://www.cenorm.be/cenorm/businessdomains/businessdomains/informationsocietystandardizationsystem/published+cwas/13874.pdf),the National Information Standards Organization (NISO) as NISOZ39.85-2001 (http://www.niso.org/standards/resources/Z39-85.pdf), andmost recently the International Standards Organization (ISO) as ISO15836-2003 (http://www.niso.org/international/SC4/n515.pdf).

    An official list of all available metadata schemes does not exist, noteven one specific to information resources, although a number ofmetadata registries are becoming fairly extensive. The CORES registry(http://www.cores-eu.net/registry/) is a good example, currently listing40 metadata schemes, and supporting searching and browsing by meta-data scheme developer, maintenance agency, element sets, elements,encoding schemes, application profiles, and element usages. Addition-

    18 METADATA: A CATALOGERS PRIMER

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  • ally, Web resources, such as the IFLA DIGITAL LIBRARIES: Meta-data Resources Web page (http://www.ifla.org/II/metadata.htm) andthe UKOLN Metadata Web site (http://www.ukoln.ac.uk/metadata/),provide ample information about metadata schemes by referencing andlinking to papers, presentations, electronic listservs and newsgroups,and metadata specifications. These resources are useful for studying thepopulation of metadata schemes, although it is difficult to study thistopic in its entirety, given the multiplicity of schemes, their evolution-ary nature (different versions or releases produced over time), their dif-ferent constituencies, and their varied functional emphases.

    Despite these challenges, it is important to conceptualize the natureof metadata schemes. We need to study schemes in order to understandtheir place in the larger context of information organization, manage-ment, and access. The intense interest in, and extensive development of,metadata schemes over the last decade brings this need to the forefrontand calls for an examination of the population of these semantic con-tainer-like systems. A framework is needed to study the full extent ofand functionalities supported by metadata schemes. In this paper I con-sider this need by examining schemes developed for information re-sources. The first part is a review of the definition of metadata, metadatafunctions, and several metadata typologies. Next, I present conceptu-alization for metadata schemes. The emphasis is on semantic con-tainer-like metadata schemes (data structures). The last part of thispaper introduces the MODAL (Metadata Objectives and principles,Domain, and Architectural Layout) framework as an approach forstudying metadata schemes. The paper concludes with a brief discus-sion on value of frameworks for examining metadata schemes, includ-ing different types of metadata schemes.

    METADATA AND METADATA SUPPORTED FUNCTIONS

    Defining MetadataIt is well documented that Jack E. Myers coined the term metadata

    in 1969, and it was first printed in a product brochure in 1973. Meyersused the term to represent current and future products associated withhis MetaModel and to designate a company that would develop andmarket those products. METADATA was registered in 1986 as a U.S.

    Part I: Intellectual Foundations 19

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  • Trademark for The Metadata Company, where Meyers is a principle(The Metadata Company: http://www.metadata.com/).

    Building upon Meyers usage, the terms metadata, meta data andmeta-data (all in lower case) have been adopted by the computer sci-ence, statistical, database, and library and information science commu-nities to mean data about data. The term metadata, in these realms,addresses data attributes that describe, provide context, indicate thequality, or document other object (or data) characteristics.

    Information and library scientists both equate (e.g., Milstead &Feldman, 1999; Caplan, 1995) and distinguish (e.g., Heery, 1996) creat-ing metadata from cataloging. The main distinction is that metadata isexclusive to electronic information. This interpretation is, however, nothard-and-fast, as librarians have been cataloging electronic resourcesfor decades prior to the Web, and many metadata schemes are applica-ble to physical as well as digital resources. Definitions of metadata spe-cific to information resources (the types of materials found in bothphysical and digital libraries, archives, museums, and other informationagencies) are consistent in that they emphasize the functional aspect ofmetadata, with the common definition of structured data about data(e.g., Duval et al. 2002; Woodley et al. 2003). Metadata can be viewedas structured data about an object that supports functions associatedwith the designated objectwith an object being any entity, form, ormode for which contextual data can be recorded (Greenberg, 2003).Metadata Functions

    Many discussions, particularly those exploring metadata in the infor-mation resource community (libraries, archives, museums, and other in-formation centers), tend to group metadata elements by the variousfunctions they support. The result is the identification of different typesof metadata (or metadata classes), each of which comprises multiplemetadata elements. Table 1 provides typologies of different types ofmetadata identified by Lagoze et al. (1996), Gilliland-Swetland (2000),Greenberg (2001), and Caplan (2003).

    Lagoze et al. have developed one of the most extensive typologies,presented in Table 1, columns one through three. Column one summa-rizes the Lagoze et al. typology, column 2 describes the metadata func-tions corresponding to the typology, and column three lists examples ofmetadata elements that facilitate the functions in column 2.

    Gilliland-Swetlands (2000), Greenbergs (2001), and Caplans (2003)typologies are presented in Table 1, columns four, five, and six respec-

    20 METADATA: A CATALOGERS PRIMER

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  • tively; and these typologies are mapped to the functions identified byLagoze et al. (column 2). The typologies developed by these three au-thors (Gilliland-Swetland, Greenberg, and Caplan) are not as extensiveas the Lagoze et al. typology and definitions vary among authors. As aresult, metadata types are repeated in the mapping, and often more thanone type is listed to match the Lagoze et al. metadata functions.

    Table 1 illustrates similarities among metadata typologies, yet it alsomakes evident the challenge in establishing one universal metadataclassification. Most important is that the naming of different types ofmetadata, with labels such as resource discovery and use, demon-strates that functionality is the principal reason for metadata.

    A CONCEPTUALIZATION FOR METADATA SCHEMES

    A Context for Metadata SchemesWhile literature includes analyses on the different types of metadata,

    discussions on the meaning of scheme (or schema), in the metadata con-text, are scarce. It may simply be that scheme is generally understoodto be a structured framework or plan (Miriam-Webster Online: http://www.m-w.com/cgi-bin/dictionary?va=schema), and adopting this con-cept for representation systems used in informatio...

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