ADAM Quick Guide to Metadata


The most common definition of the term 'metadata' is data about data -- information that describes other information. For example, this web page has an author, a title, a date of creation, and a unique Internet address; this information constitutes the metadata about this page.

Metadata is the key to providing services like ADAM; our Resource Officers are creating a searchable catalogue of metadata records that describe quality-assured resources in art, design, architecture & media on the Internet.

We are also keen to promote the use of metadata by resource authors; often the best person to describe a resource is the person who created it! By using simple techniques such as the Dublin Core to embed metadata in web pages, authors help services like ADAM to quickly and accurately describe the resources, and thereby help end users to find the information they really need.

This page contains some descriptive metadata, invisibly embedded in the HTML using the <META> tag in the <HEAD> section; it looks something like this:

<META NAME=DC.Creator CONTENT="Tony Gill">
<META NAME=DC.Title CONTENT="ADAM Quick Guide to Metadata">
<META NAME=DC.Subject CONTENT="ADAM, Dublin Core, internet cataloguing, metadata">
<META NAME=DC.Description CONTENT="A short ADAM guide to metadata, particularly Dublin Core.">
<META NAME=DC.Date CONTENT="1997-11-21">
<META NAME=DC.Identifier CONTENT="">

General Metadata Resources

UKOLN Metadata
The UKOLN Metadata page provides links to sources of information about various metadata standards, information about project metadata implementations, mappings between various metadata formats and tools for generating metadata.

A review of metadata: a survey of current resource description formats
A broad-ranging review of existing metadata formats, produced by Lorcan Dempsey and Rachel Heery as a work package for the EU-funded project DESIRE.

Visual Arts, Museums & Cultural Heritage Information Standards
Produced as part of the AHDS/UKOLN Resource Discovery Workshop Series, this domain-specific review by Tony Gill, Louise Smith & Catherine Grout examines a number of established information standards.

Dublin Core

The Dublin Core is a simple set of 15 descriptive elements that can be used to describe network resources such as web pages. It is particularly useful for web page authors, because:

  • It is very simple to learn
  • Every element is repeatable
  • Every element is is optional
  • It can be extended for more complex applications
  • It can be embedded invisibly in web pages
  • It is recognised by the World Wide Web Consortium

There are now a number of useful Dublin Core resources available over the Internet; this selection represents a domain-specific (and personal) selection of some of the most useful:

Dublin Core Metadata Iniative
The 'official' Dublin Core pages, hosted and maintained by OCLC. This site contains the reference description of the elements and how to encode them, a summary of the workshop series, links to further information and implementation projects and a number of other useful resources.

Metadata for the Masses
A user-friendly introduction to metadata, it's applications and the Dublin Core, by Paul Miller of the Archaeology Data Service. The description of the Dublin Core elements and syntax is a little out of date, but this is still probably the most accessible introduction to metadata available.

Nordic Metadata Project
Information, links and a useful web-based tool for generating Dublin Core metadata suitable for embedding in HTML pages.

Visual Arts, Museums & Cultural Heritage Metadata Workshop Report
The final report from the Visual Arts Data Service Metadata Workshop, by Catherine Grout and Tony Gill

Discovering Online Resources Across the Humanities: A Practical Application of the Dublin Core
The final report from the AHDS/UKOLN Resource Discovery Workshop series, edited by Paul Miller & Daniel Greenstein.

Down Under with the Dublin Core
Report of the fourth Dublin Core workshop, held in March 1997 at the National Library of Australia, by Paul Miller & Tony Gill.

DC5: The Search for Santa
Report of the fifth Dublin Core workshop, held in October 1997 at the National Library of Finland, by Paul Miller & Tony Gill.

Dublin Core logos

The Dublin Core 'apple core' logotype (originally produced as a joke for Tony Gill's personal web pages!), has now spread to a number of more serious sites, for example the Nordic Metadata Project.

In the light of popular demand, the logo has been cleaned up, given a web-safe 16-colour palette with a transparent background, and made available in a range of sizes; please feel free to download and reuse any of the following images from this page.

[Dublin Core logo, 80 x 88 pixels] 80x88 pixels

[Dublin Core logo, 40 x 44 pixels] 40x44 pixels

[Dublin Core logo, 20 x 22 pixels] 20x22 pixels

The logo below is the 'original' 1996 version.

100% Dublin Core metadata (select View… | Document Source to see the metadata)
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