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DCMI Glossary


Mary S. Woodley


Gail Clement


Pete Winn

Date Issued: 2005-11-07


Is Replaced By: Not applicable
Is Part Of:

Latest version:

Status of Document:

DCMI Recommended Resource

The DCMI Glossary is a collaborative effort of the User Guide Committee with special thanks to Gail Clement & Pete Winn, whose original glossary was a basis for this version. Terms included in this glossary are based on DCMI documents, presentations at DC conferences, and discussions on the DC General listserv. We welcome comments and feedback regarding additions, deletions or changes to the terms and/or definitions found below.

The glossary was last updated on 23 April 2004.

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z Related Standards

1:1 principle
The principle whereby related but conceptually different entities, for example a painting and a digital image of the painting, are described by separate metadata records


See Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules
administrative metadata
Metadata used in managing and administering information resources, e.g., location or donor information. Includes rights and access information, data on the creation and preservation of the digital object.
See AGLS (Australian Government Locator Service)
Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules (AACR2)
The dominant bibliographic standard regulating cataloging in the English-speaking world. AACR2 represents a set of rules for the standard description of and access to all materials which a library holds or to which it has access.
American Standard Code for Information Interchange (ASCII)
A scheme that provides standard numeric values to represent letters, numbers, punctuation marks and other characters. The use of standard values allows computers and computer programs to exchange data.
application profile
In DCMI usage, an application profile is a declaration of the metadata terms an organization, information resource, application, or user community uses in its metadata. In a broader sense, it includes the set of metadata elements, policies, and guidelines defined for a particular application or implementation. The elements may be from one or more element sets, thus allowing a given application to meet its functional requirements by using metadata elements from several element sets including locally defined sets. For example, a given application might choose a specific subset of the Dublin Core elements that meets its needs, or may include elements from the Dublin Core, another element set, and several locally defined elements, all combined in a single schema. An application profile is not considered complete without documentation that defines the policies and best practices appropriate to the application.
Appropriate values
Best practice for a particular Element or Qualifier may vary by context. Definitions may provide some guidance; other information may be found in "Using Dublin Core".
See American Standard Code for Information Interchange
Dublin Core element to record a class of entity for whom the resource is intended or useful. A class of entity may be determined by the creator or the publisher or by a third party. See also "Using Dublin Core".
See Creator
authority control
A set of rules or procedures that assist in the maintenance of consistent forms of names or terms within a database.
authority file
A collection of authority records.
authority record
A record that registers the preferred form of a personal or corporate name, geographic region or subject term. It may indicate variant forms of the established heading, biographical or cultural information associated with the heading, as well as related headings.


Basic Semantics Register
An ISO Standard ISO/TS 16668:2000 which identifies and defines semantic components for use in data exchange.
best practice
Guidance and documentation to describe and standardize the use of metadata elements that best support a community's needs.
See Basic Semantics Register


Lower and upper case letters are not treated as if they were interchangeable; e.g. 'a' is not the same as 'A'.
A logical scheme for arrangement of knowledge, usually by subject. Classification schema are alpha and/or numeric; for example, Library of Congress Classification, Dewey Classification, Universal Decimal Classification.
controlled vocabulary
A prescribed set of consistently used and carefully defined terms.
The Dublin Core element used to designate the entity responsible for making contributions to the content of the resource. Examples of a Contributor include a person, an organization or a service. Typically, the name of a Contributor should be used to indicate the entity. See also "Using Dublin Core".
The Dublin Core element used to designate the extent or scope of the content of the resource. Coverage will typically include spatial location (a place name or geographic co-ordinates), temporal period (a period label, date, or date range) or jurisdiction (such as a named administrative entity). Recommended best practice is to select a value from a controlled vocabulary, and that, where appropriate, named places or time periods be used in preference to numeric identifiers such as sets of co-ordinates or date ranges. See also "Using Dublin Core".
The Dublin Core element used to designate the entity primarily responsible for making the content of the resource. Examples of a Creator include a person, an organization, or a service. See also "Using Dublin Core".
A table that maps the relationships and equivalencies between two or more metadata schemes. Crosswalks or metadata mapping support the ability of search engines to search effectively across heterogeneous databases.


The Dublin Core element used to designate the date associated with an event in the life cycle of the resource. Typically, Date will be associated with the creation or availability of the resource. See also "Using Dublin Core".
Dublin Core Application Profile " is a declaration specifying which metadata terms an organization, information provider, or user community uses in its metadata. By definition, a DCAP identifies the source of metadata terms used - whether they have been defined in formally maintained standards such as Dublin Core, in less formally defined element sets and vocabularies, or by the creator of the DCAP itself for local use in an application. Optionally, a DCAP may provide additional documentation on how the terms are constrained, encoded, or interpreted for application-specific purposes." See
Dublin Core Metadata Element Set. See Dublin Core.
See Dublin Core Metadata Initiative
DCMI recommendation
A DCMI recommendation is a human-readable document that may define one or more DCMI terms.
DCMI term
A DCMI term is a DCMI element, a DCMI qualifier or term from a DCMI-maintained controlled vocabulary. Each DCMI term is defined in a DCMI recommendation and is identified by a Uniform Resource Identifier (URI) within a DCMI namespace.
DCMI term declaration
A DCMI term declaration is the machine-processable representation of one or more DCMI terms, expressed in a schema language.
The Dublin Core element used to designate a textual description of the content of the resource. See also "Using Dublin Core".
See Dublin Core Structured Value
descriptive metadata
Metadata that supports the discovery of an object.
digital tourist
An inexperienced searcher in the digital environment who does not possess knowledge of community- specific vocabularies. The Dublin Core provides a rudimentary vocabulary, or "pidgin language" for information discovery when exploring new digital territories. Coined by Ricky Erway at the Metadata Workshop on Metadata for Networked Images, September 24-25, 1996.
discovery software
A computer application designed to simplify, assist and expedite the process of finding information resources.
Digital Object Identifier
DOI was developed by the International DOI Foundation as a system for identifying and exchanging intellectual property in the digital environment. It provides a mechanism to link a searcher to digital content and facilitates copyright management.
Document Type Definition (DTD)
In SGML or XML, a formal description of the components of a specific document or class of documents. DTDs provide a formal grammar used for machine processing (parsing) of documents expressed in SGML or XML. A DTD description includes:
  • The containers or elements that make up the document; e.g., paragraphs, headings, list items, figures, tables, etc.
  • The logical structure of the document; e.g., chapters containing sections, etc.
  • Additional information associated with elements (known as attributes); e.g., identifiers, date stamps, etc.
document-like object (DLO)
Originally defined as an entity that resembles a document from the standpoint that it is substantially text-based and shares other properties of a document; e.g., electronic mail messages or spreadsheets. The definition was expanded at the 3rd DC workshop to refer to any discrete information resource that are characterized by being fixed (i.e., having identical content for each user). Examples include text, images, movies, and performances.
see Digital Object Identifier
A mechanism for refining the meaning of the element in HTML; for example, <META NAME="DC.Title.Alternative" CONTENT="Title">
See Document Type Definition
Dublin Core
The Dublin Core is a metadata element set. It includes all DCMI terms (that is, refinements, encoding schemes, and controlled vocabulary terms) intended to facilitate discovery of resources. The Dublin Core has been in development since 1995 through a series of focused invitational workshops that gather experts from the library world, the networking and digital library research communities, and a variety of content specialties. See the Dublin Core Web Site for additional information.
Dublin Core Metadata Initiative
The Dublin Core Metadata Initiative is the body responsible for the ongoing maintenance of Dublin Core. DCMI is currently hosted by the OCLC Online Computer Library Center, Inc., a not-for-profit international library consortium. The work of DCMI is done by contributors from many institutions in many countries. DCMI is organized into Communities and Task Groups to address particular problems and tasks (see the DCMI Work structure page). Participation in DCMI is open to all interested parties. Instructions for joining can be found at the DCMI web site on the DCMI Contact information page.
Dublin Core Simple
See Simple Dublin Core
Dublin Core Structured Values
DCSV recognizes two types of substrings: labels and values. A label is the name of the type of a value, and a value is the data itself. A value that is comprised of components, i.e. a value which has its own label and value, is called a structured value. Punctuation supports the parsing of the DCSV.
Dublin Core Terms
See DCMI term
Dumb-down Principle
The qualification of Dublin Core Elements is guided by a rule known colloquially as the Dumb-Down Principle. According to this rule, a client should be able to ignore any qualifier and use the value as if it were unqualified. While this may result in some loss of specificity, the remaining term value (minus the qualifier) must continue to be generally correct and useful for discovery. Qualification is therefore supposed only to refine, not extend the semantic scope of an Element.


see EAD (Encoded Archival Description)
electronic information resource
An information resource that is maintained in electronic, or computerized format, and may be accessed, searched and retrieved via electronic networks or other electronic data processing technologies (e.g., CD-ROM)
An element is a property of a resource. As intended here, "properties" are attributes of resources -- characteristics of a resource, such as a Title, Publisher, or Subject. Elements are formally defined terms which are used to describe attributes and properties of a resource.
element refinement (qualifier)
Qualifiers make the meaning of an element narrower or more specific. An element refinement is a property of a resource which shares the meaning of a particular DCMI Element but with narrower semantics. In some application environments (notably HTML-based encodings), Element refinements are used together with elements in the manner of natural-language "qualifiers" (i.e., adjectives) . However, since element refinements are properties of a resource (like elements), element refinements can alternatively be used in metadata records independently of the properties they refine. In DCMI practice, an Element refinement refines just one parent DCMI property.
embedded metadata
Metadata that is maintained and stored within the object it describes; the opposite of stand-alone metadata.
Encoded Archival Description
An SGML DTD that represents a highly structured way to create digital finding aids for a grouping of archival or manuscript materials. The standard is maintained in the Network Development and MARC Standards Office of the Library of Congress (LC) in partnership with the Society of American Archivists. For more information see
encoding scheme
An encoding scheme provides contextual information or parsing rules that aid in the interpretation of a term value. Such contextual information may take the form of controlled vocabularies, formal notations, or parsing rules. If an encoding scheme is not understood by a client or agent, the value may still be useful to a human reader. There are two types of encoding schemes: Vocabulary Encoding Schemes and Syntax Encoding Schemes
Having the potential to be expanded in scope, area or size. In the case of Dublin Core, the ability to extend a core set of metadata with additional elements.
Extensible Markup Language (XML)
A subset of Standard Generalized Markup Language (SGML), a widely used international text processing standard. XML is being designed to bring the power and flexibility of generic SGML to the Web, while maintaining interoperability with full SGML and HTML. For more information, see


The Dublin Core element used to designate the physical or digital manifestation of the resource. See also "Using Dublin Core".
Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records is a conceptual model to describe bibliographic entities, their relations and attributes within IFLA (International Federation of Library Associations). The complete work is available at and a presentation at


See Graphics Interchange Format
See GILS (Global Information Locator Service)
An alphabetized list of terms with definitions often created by an organization to reflect its needs. Normally lacks hierarchical arrangement or cross references. Also known as a term list.
Graphics Interchange Format (GIF)
The dominant graphics format on the Web, limited to 256 colors. GIFs provide sharper black & white images than JPEGs.
The level of detail at which an information object or resource is viewed or described.


A harvester is a client application that issues OAI-PMH requests. A harvester is operated by a service provider as a means of collecting metadata from repositories. (
An MIT project to develop to personal management systems that would all individuals to organize their information objects, such as email, web pages, documents, images, calendars. The information can be categorize and create relationships that are meaningful for themselves. See
See Hypertext Markup Language
Hypertext Markup Language (HTML)
The standard text-formatting language for documents on the World Wide Web. HTML text files contain content that is rendered on a computer screen and markup, or tags, that can be used to tell the computer how to format that content. HTML tags can also be used to encode metadata and to tell the computer how to respond to certain user actions, such as a mouse click. For more information, see


The Dublin Core element that is an unambiguous reference to the resource within a given context. Recommended best practice is to identify the resource by means of a string or number conforming to a formal identification system. See also "Using Dublin Core".
See Internet Engineering Task Force
See IEEE LOM (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. Learning Object Metadata)
See IMS Instructional Management Systems
See Internet Media Type
See INDECS ( Interoperability of Data in D-Commerce Systems)
The process of evaluating information entities and creating terms that aid in finding and accessing the entity. Index terms may be in natural language or controlled vocabulary or a classification notation.
indexing program
Computer software used to order things; frequently used to refer to software that alphabetizes some or all of the terms in one or more electronic documents.
information resource
Any entity, electronic or otherwise, capable of conveying or supporting intelligence or knowledge; e.g. a book, a letter, a picture, a sculpture, a database, a person. See also DLO
An identifiable occurrence or occasion of something; in the case of Dublin Core, a specific occurrence of an information resource.
International Organization for Standardization
ISO was established in 1947 as a worldwide federation of national standards bodies from some 130 countries.
Internet Commons
The global Internet environment, collection of information-bearing repositories whose data can be accessed through the Internet.
Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF)
The IETF is responsible for solving short-term engineering needs of the Internet. It has over 40 Working Groups.
Internet Media Type (IMT)
A set of terms that describe types of resources on the Internet. Used as an encoding scheme for the Format element in Dublin Core.
The ability of different types of computers, networks, operating systems, and applications to work together effectively, without prior communication, in order to exchange information in a useful and meaningful manner. There are three aspects of interoperability: semantic, structural and syntactical.
Interoperability Qualifiers
Additional metadata used either to refine the semantics of a Dublin Core metadata element's value, or to provide more information about the encoding scheme used for the value.
See International Organization for Standardization


Joint Photographic Experts Group (JPEG)
A standard for compressing digital images. The advantage of JPEG is that it uses compression to make graphics files smaller, making them faster to transfer and view over the World Wide Web. More than 16 million color hues are available. Better than GIF for color photographs. The disadvantage is some loss of image quality due to data loss during compression. For more information see
See Joint Photographic Experts Group


See Subject


The Dublin Core element used to designate the language of the intellectual content of the resource. Recommended best practice for the values of the Language element is defined by RFC 3066. See also "Using Dublin Core".
A literal or "appropriate literal" is the value of any given metadata entity that can be either a hyperlink or a string value (literal). A literal affords a great deal of flexibility and power, but increases complexity. Metadata should as well include an appropriate literal that reflects the base value of the metadata entity. For example, in these fragments: creator = "Public, John Q." creator = "" the first has a value expressed as an appropriate literal whereas the second has a (hypothetical) link to an authority structure. It is not entirely clear what a person or application will find at the end of the link, so the metadata should contain an appropriate literal for simple discovery purposes.


mapping metadata
See crosswalk
See MARC (Machine-Readable Cataloging Record)
META tag
The HTML element used to demarcate metadata on a Web page. <META> </META>.
In general, "data about data;" functionally, "structured data about data." Metadata includes data associated with either an information system or an information object for purposes of description, administration, legal requirements, technical functionality, use and usage, and preservation. . In the case of Dublin Core, information that expresses the intellectual content, intellectual property and/or instantiation characteristics of an information resource. See Section 1.1 of this guide. For a history of the term See Caplan,pp. 1-3.
metadata record
A syntactically correct representation of the descriptive information (metadata) for an information resource. In the case of Dublin Core, a representation of the Dublin Core elements that has been defined for the resource. The majority of metadata records and record fragments in this document are presented in HTML syntax.
metadata schema registry
A publicly accessible system that records the semantics, structure and interchange formats of any type of metadata. A formal authority, or agency, maintains and manages the development and evolution of a metadata registry. The authority is responsible for policies pertaining to registry contents and operation. See also
METS (Metadata Encoding & Transmission Standard
See METS (Metadata Encoding & Transmission Standard
See Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions
See MODS (Metadata Object Description Schema)
Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions
The standard for attaching files to Internet e-mail messages. Attached files may be text, graphics, spreadsheets, documents, sound files, etc.


National Information Standards Organization
NISO, accredited by ANSI, develops and promotes technical standards used in a wide variety of information services.
A DCMI namespace is a collection of DCMI terms. Each DCMI namespace is identified by a URI. An XML namespace [XML-NAMES] is a collection of names, identified by a URI reference [RFC2396], that are used in XML documents as element types and attribute names. The use of XML namespaces to uniquely identify metadata terms allows those terms to be unambiguously used across applications, promoting the possibility of shared semantics. DCMI adopts this mechanism for the identification of all DCMI terms. For example, the namespace for Dublin Core elements and qualifiers would be expressed respectively in XML as:
xmlns:dc = "
xmlns:dcterms = "
The use of namespaces allows the definition of an element to be unambiguously identified with a URI, even though the label "title" alone might occur in many metadata sets. In more general terms, one can think of any closed set of names as a namespace. Thus, a controlled vocabulary such as the Library of Congress Subject Headings, a set of metadata elements such as DC, or the set of all URLs in a given domain can be thought of as a namespace that is managed by the authority that is in charge of that particular set of terms.
networked resource
An object that is available electronically via a network.
See National Information Standards Organization


See Open Archives Initiative
See Open Archives Initiative Protocol for Metadata Harvesting
See Online Computer Library Center
See ONIX (ONline InformationeXchange)
A hierarchical structure that formally defines the semantic relationship of a set of concepts. Used to create structured / controlled vocabularies for the discovery or exchange of information. A thesaurus, like the AAT is an example.
Online Computer Library Center (OCLC)
The major source of cataloging data for libraries around the world; located in Dublin, Ohio, US. For more information, see
Open Archives Initiative
"Develops and promotes interoperability standards that aim to facilitate the efficient dissemination of content. The Open Archives Initiative has its roots in an effort to enhance access to e-print archives as a means of increasing the availability of scholarly communication" For more information see
A method for describing resources and associated resources that are referenced in a network environment. It defines the mentods for transporting these descriptions between networked systems. NISO standard NISO Z39.88-2003 (still in draft). The Standard has been issued in two parts and it available for comment through California Institute of Technology
Open Archives Initiative Protocol for Metadata Harvesting
The Protocol "provides an application-independent interoperability framework based on metadata harvesting. There are two classes of participants in the OAI-PMH framework: Data Providers administer systems that support the OAI-PMH as a means of exposing metadata; and Service Providers use metadata harvested via the OAI-PMH as a basis for building value-added services. " For more information see
Web ontology language OWL is a language for describing ontologies and schema. It can specify concepts and their relationships. OWL/XDD (XML declaration description) allows a means to express complex rules and constraints.


Parsing may be divided into parts: lexical analysis and semantic parsing. Lexical analysis divides strings into components based on punctuation or tagging. Semantic parsing then attempts to determine the meaning of the string.
Persistent Uniform Resource Locator
An approach to the URL permanence problem proposed by OCLC. A PURL is a public alias for a document. A PURL remains stable, while the document's background URL will change as it is managed (e.g. moved) over time. A PURL is created by a Web administrator who is registered as a PURL "owner" and who maintains a mapping of the PURL to a current and functioning URL. A PURL is a form of URN.
POI (PURL-based Object Identifier)
A specification for resource identifiers that are described by metadata 'items' in OAI-compliant repositories. POI are based on the PURL system [POI]. "Because POIs conform to the URI specification, they can be used unmodified in DC metadata and LOM." See and
A property is a specific aspect, characteristic, attribute, or relation used to describe a resource. Dublin Core metadata elements are properties
Dublin Core element used for making statements of any changes in ownership and custody of the resource since its creation that are significant for its authenticity, integrity and interpretation. The statement may include a description of any changes successive custodians made to the resource. See also "Using Dublin Core".
The Dublin Core element used to designate the entity responsible for making the resource available. Examples of a Publisher include a person, an organization, or a service. Typically, the name of a Publisher should be used to indicate the entity. See also "Using Dublin Core".
See Persistent Uniform Resource Locator


"Qualifiers" is the generic heading traditionally used for terms now usually referred to specifically as Element Refinements or Encoding Schemes. A qualifier must follow the Dumb-Down Principle. There are two broad categories of qualifiers: Encoding schema and Element refinement.
Qualified Dublin Core
Qualified Dublin Core includes an additional element, Audience, as well as a group of element refinements (also called qualifiers) that refine the semantics of the elements in ways that may be useful in resource discovery


See Resource Description Framework.
RDF Site Summary
RSS was created and popularized by Netscape for their personalized portal site. Rich Site Summary (RSS) is a lightweight XML application designed to exchange headline metadata between news content providers and portals.
A record is some structured metadata about a resource, comprising one or more properties and their associated values.
A system to provide management of metadata elements. See also metadata schema registry The DCMI Registry Working Group (WG) is the development of a metadata registry providing authoritative information regarding the DCMI vocabulary and the relationship between terms in that vocabulary.
The Dublin Core element used to designate A reference to a related resource. Recommended best practice is to reference the resource by means of a string or number conforming to a formal identification system. See also "Using Dublin Core".
Request for Comment (RFC)
A Request for Comment (RFC) is the process of establishing a standard on the Internet. Discussion of the proposed standard on the Internet is facilitated by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF). Once approved, the standard receives a unique number which identifies it; e.g., RFC See and
A resource is anything that has identity. Familiar examples include an electronic document, an image, a service (e.g., "today's weather report for Los Angeles"), and a collection of other resources. Not all resources are network "retrievable"; e.g., human beings, corporations, and bound books in a library can also be considered resources.
Resource Description Framework (RDF)
The basic language for writing metadata; a foundation which provides a robust flexible architecture for processing metadata on the Internet. RDF will retain the capability to exchange metadata between application communities, while allowing each community to define and use the metadata that best serves their needs. For more information see
resource discovery
The process through which one searches and retrieves an information resource.
Resource Type
See Type.
Resource Description
See Description.
Resource Identifier
See Identifier
See Request for Comment
The Dublin Core element used to provide a link to information about rights held in and over the resource. Typically a Rights element will contain a rights management statement for the resource, or reference a service providing such information. Rights information often encompasses Intellectual Property Rights (IPR), Copyright, and various Property Rights. If the rights element is absent, no assumptions can be made about the status of these and other rights with respect to the resource. See also "Using Dublin Core".
Dublin Core element used to record a person or organization owning or managing rights over the resource. Recommended best practice is to use the URI or name of the Rights Holder to indicate the entity. See also "Using Dublin Core".
Rights Management
See Rights
Resource Organisation And Discovery in Subject based services. A UK funded project whose aim is to develop discovery software for Internet resources.
See RDF Site Summary .


schema or scheme(plurals schemas or schemata; schemes)
In general terms, any organization, coding, outline or plan of concepts. In terms of metadata, a systematic, orderly combination of elements or terms. In terms of DCMI term declarations represented in XML or RDF schema language, schemas are machine-processable specifications which define the structure and syntax of metadata specifications in a formal schema language. In terms of an encoding scheme, is a set of rules for encoding information that supports a specific community of users. See also Encoding scheme.
See schema
See SCORM (Sharable Content Object Reference Model)
search engine
A utility capable of returning references to relevant information resources in response to a query.
semantic interoperability
Ability to search for digital information across heterogeneous distributed databases whose metadata schemas have been mapped to one another. It is achieved through agreements about content description standards; for example, Dublin Core, Anglo-American Cataloging Rules.
Semantic Web
A term coined by Tim Berners-Lee which views the future Web as a web of data, like a global database. The infrastructure of the Semantic Web would allow machines as well as humans to make deductions and organize information. The architectural components include semantics (meaning of the elements), structure (organization of the elements), and syntax (communication).
Significance or meaning. In the case of Dublin Core, the significance or intended meaning of individual metadata elements and their components.
See Standard Generalized Markup Language
Serial Item and Contribution Identifier (ANSI/NISO Z39.56-1996 Vers. 2) A numeric notation to identify serial issues and articles uniquely regardless of their distribution medium (paper, electronic, microform).
Simple Dublin Core
The fifteen Dublin Core elements used without qualifiers, that is without element refinement or encoding schemes. Sometimes referred to as Dublin Core simple.
A protocol that uses XML for the exchange of structured information, that is messages, in a distributed environment. See
software agent
A computer program that carries out tasks on behalf of another entity. Frequently used to reference a program that searches the Internet for information meeting the specified requirements of an individual user.
The Dublin Core element used to designate a reference to a resource from which the present resource is derived. The present resource may be derived from the Source resource in whole or part. Recommended best practice is to reference the resource by means of a string or number conforming to a formal identification system. See also "Using Dublin Core".
An element refinement of Coverage. Spatial characteristics of the intellectual content of the resource.
Standard Generalized Markup Language (SGML)
A non-proprietary language/enabling technology for describing information. Information in SGML is structured like a database, supporting rendering in and conversion between different formats. Both XML and later versions of HTML are instances of SGML. For more information see
stand-alone metadata
Metadata that is created, maintained and stored independently of the object it describes. The opposite of embedded metadata.
structured value
See Dublin Core Structured Value
structural interoperability
Is achieved through data models for specifying semantic schemas in a way that they can be shared; for example, RDF.
structural metadata
Structural metadata defines the digital object's internal organization and is needed for display and navigation of that object.
See element refinement
The Dublin Core element used to describe the content of the resource. The element may use controlled vocabularies or keywords or phrases that describe the subject or content of the resource. See also "Using Dublin Core".
Subject Headings
An alphabetical list of words or phrases that represent a concept that is under authority control, e.g., the Library of Congress Subject Headings.
surrogate content
Metadata as a substitute for an actual resource.
switching language
A mediating language used to establish equivalencies among various indexing languages. Dublin Core has been viewed as a switching "language" between various metadata schemas.
syntactic interoperability
Achieved by marking up our data in a similar fashion so we can share the data and so that our machines can understand and take the data apart in sensible ways; for example, XML, EAD and MARC.
The form and structure with which metadata elements are combined. In the case of Dublin Core, the form and structure of how metadata elements and their components are combined to form a metadata record.
Syntax Encoding Schemes
Syntax Encoding Schemes indicate that the value is a string formatted in accordance with a formal notation, such as "2000-01-01" as the standard expression of a date.


A project developed at Stanford, TAP seeks to create a web of "machine-readable" (XML, RDF) data, not just human readable (HTML) data. A server which is queried for information about people or subjects, will collocate documents about people and concepts. See
In general terms, systematic classification according to principles or general laws. In digital terms, automated classification of documents in a hierarchy based on information gathered by a metacrawler. May refer to a classification of DCMI terms. A classification system such as Library of Congress Classification is an example of a taxonomy.
technical metadata
Metadata that documents the creation and the digital characteristics of the files.
See Text Encoding Initiative
An element refinement of coverage. Temporal characteristics of the intellectual content of the resource.
See DCMI term
Text Encoding Initiative (TEI)
An international project to develop guidelines for the preparation and interchange of electronic texts for scholarly research as well as a broad range of other language industry uses. The TEI DTD is an SGML Document Type Definition for encoding literary works. For more information, see
A structured vocabulary make up of names, words, and other information, typically including synonyms and/or hierarchical relationships for the purpose of cross-referencing in order to organize a collection of concepts for reference and retrieval. See the ANSI/NISO Standard for thesaurus construction Z39.19-2003 (R1998; ISO 2788). A controlled vocabulary of terms or concepts that are structured hierarchically (parent/child relationships) or as equivalences (synonyms), and related terms (associative). See also Subject headings and glossary. A thesaurus is a taxonomy.
Thesaurus of Geographic Names
The TGN is a controlled vocabulary containing around 1,000,000 names and other information about places. It includes physical features and administrative entities, such as cities and nations. The emphasis in TGN is on places important for art and architecture.
The Dublin Core element used to designate the name given to the resource. Typically, a Title will be a name by which the resource is formally known. See also "Using Dublin Core".
The means to denote the status of an element or qualifier within a registry; e.g., proposed, recommended, conforming (to the namespace), obsolete, or local.
The Dublin Core element used to designate the nature or genre of the content of the resource. Type includes terms describing general categories, functions, genres, or aggregation levels for content. Recommended best practice is to select a value from a controlled vocabulary. See also "Using Dublin Core".


See Union List of Artist Names
A universal encoding scheme designed to allow interchange, processing and display of the world's principal languages, as well as many historic and archaic scripts. Unicode supports and fosters a multilingual computing world community by allowing computers using one language to "talk" to computers using a different language. A registered trademark of Unicode, Inc.
Unicode Transformation Format, 8-bit (UTF-8)
A temporary form of Unicode that is well suited for routing data through systems that are not designed for Unicode, such as some email servers and Web clients. UTF-8 is an attractive way of storing multilingual data on the Internet, without requiring full Unicode compliance.
Uniform Resource Identifier (URI)
The syntax for all names/addresses that refer to resources on the World Wide Web. For information about Internet addressing, see
Uniform Resource Locator (URL)
A technique for indicating the name and location of Internet resources. The URL specifies the name and type of the resource, as well as the computer, device and directory where the resource may be found. The URL for Dublin Core Metatdata Initiative is <>. For information about Internet addressing, see
Uniform Resource Name (URN)
A URI (name and address of an object on the Internet) that has some assurance of persistence beyond that normally associated with an Internet domain or host name. For information about Internet addressing, see
Union Lists of Artists' Names (ULAN)
Union List of Artist Names. A controlled vocabulary of artists' names and biographical and bibliographic information produced by the Getty Vocabulary Program.
See Uniform Resource Identifier
See Uniform Resource Locator
See Uniform Resource Name
See Unicode Transformation Format, 8-bit.


value qualifier
Value qualifier refers to either an encoding rule or controlled vocabulary that aids in the interpretation of the value within the metatag. See encoding scheme.
A standard for storing information about individuals or corporations; an electronic business card.
For more information, check the Internet Mail Consortium page on personal data exchange.
Vocabulary Encoding Schemes
Vocabulary Encoding Schemes indicate that the value is a term from a controlled vocabulary, such as the value "China - History" from the Library of Congress Subject Headings.
Vocabulary Terms
The Usage Board maintains the DCMI Type Vocabulary -- a general, cross-domain list of recommended terms that may be used as values for the Resource Type element to identify the genre of a resource. The member terms of the DCMI Type Vocabulary are called Vocabulary Terms.


Warwick Framework
An architecture for the interchange of metadata packages, or "containers"; designed to satisfy the need for competing, overlapping, and complementary metadata models. For more information, see
World Wide Web (WWW)
The panoply of Internet resources (text, graphics, audio, video, etc.) that are accessible via a Web browser.
World Wide Web Consortium (W3C)
An international industry consortium founded in October 1994 to lead the World Wide Web to its full potential by developing common protocols that promote its evolution and ensure its interoperability. For additional information see
See World Wide Web
See World Wide Web Consortium


See Extensible Markup Language



A NISO standard for an application layer protocol for information retrieval which is specifically designed to aid retrieval from distributed servers.

Dublin Core Projects

Related Metadata Standards

AGLS (Australian Government Locator Service)
A set of 19 descriptive elements based on the Dublin Core which the Australian government departments and agencies can use to improve the visibility and accessibility of their services and information over the Internet.
EAD (Encoded Archival Description)
An SGML DTD that represents a highly structured way to create digital finding aids for a grouping of archival or manuscript materials. The standard is maintained in the Network Development and MARC Standards Office of the Library of Congress (LC) in partnership with the Society of American Archivists. For more information see
GILS (Global Information Locator Service)
GILS embraces open standards to implement interoperable searching across diverse, decentralized information 'locators' to return references to all kinds of electronic and non-electronic information resources. Locators are implemented as common semantics for characterizing information resources, i.e. common metadata semantics. Formally known as Government Information Locator Service
IEEE LOM (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. Learning Object Metadata)
Standard jointly developed by IMS, IEEE, ARIADNE, and ADL/SCORM for describing, exchanging and managing, locating and evaluating learning objects, that is, instructional content, in a digital or non-digital format. The Draft standard dated 15 July 2002 includes nine categories for the metadata: general, life-cycle, meta-metadata, educational, technical, rights, relation, annotation and classification. Includes a mapping to Dublin Core Simple (Annex B, p. 44)
IMS (Instructional Management Systems)
A specification developed by EDUCAUSE (formerly EDUCOM), a consortium of U.S. institutions of higher learning and vendors, for for the discovery and description of learning objects. The specification covers a wide range of e-learning related activities, e.g. vocabulary markup, learning design, content packaging, learner information. It became the basis for the IEEE Learning Object Meta-Data (LOM). The specification includes the element names, definitions, datatypes, and field lengths and defines a conceptual structure for the metadata.
INDECS ( Interoperability of Data in D-Commerce Systems)
Standard that addresses the management of intellectual property rights and rights transactions for all media. Elements designed to faciliate the exchange of rights information between domain-specific standards.
MARC (Machine-Readable Cataloging Record)
The MARC formats are standards for the representation and communication of bibliographic and related information (authority, holdings, classification, community information) in machine-readable form. MARC 21 grew out of the harmonization of USMARC and CAN/MARC, formerly national standards, and has emerged as an international standard. MARC21 is an implementation of the American National Standard, Information Interchange Format (ANSI Z39.2) and its international counterpart, Format for Information Exchange (ISO 2709). UniMARC was originally designed for conversion between national formats but now has been adopted by some countries as their national standard.
METS (Metadata Encoding & Transmission Standard
"A 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. The standard is maintained in the Network Development and MARC Standards Office of the Library of Congress, and is being developed as an initiative of the Digital Library Federation."
MODS (Metadata Object Description Schema)
"Intended to be able to carry selected data from existing MARC 21 records as well as to enable the creation of original resource description records. It includes a subset of MARC fields and uses language-based tags rather than numeric ones, in some cases regrouping elements from the MARC 21 bibliographic format."
ONIX (ONline Information eXchange)
Developed by book publisher for the exchange of book trade information between publishers and wholesalers, e-tail and retail booksellers, other publishers, and anyone else involved in the supply chain. Standards are also being developed by publishers for serials. Mapping between ONIX and MARC exists to facilitate the exchange of content from publishers to library cataloging agencies. Consists of more than 236 elements.
SCORM (Sharable Content Object Reference Model)
eLearning metadata standards supported by ADL (Advanced Distributive Learning Initiative). See IEEE LOM


Many sources were consulted for the creation of this glossary:

BIBLINK: Objectives, Scope and Glossary

Clement, Gail and Peter Winn. A user guide for simple Dublin Core: glossary (draft). Last updated 05/12/99.

Baca, Murtha, ed. Introduction to metadata: glossary. Version 2.0

Caplan, Priscilla. Metadata Fundamentals for all Librarians. Chicago: American Library Association, 2003.

Lanzi, Elisa. Introduction to vocabularies: enhancing access to cultural heritage information. Los Angeles: Getty Information Institute, 1998. Updated by Patricia Harpring, 2000.

Moen, William. An Overview of Z39.50, Supplemented by a Case Study of Implementing the Zebra Server Under the Linux Operating System

Schemas glossary

Smith, Allison. Terms commonly used in authority control and thesaurus construction. Word document provided to DC-general listserv.

Other useful glossaries

Digital Library Initiative at the Univerisity of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

UKOLN Glossary

The online edition of Digital Libraries, by William Arms, (c) 2000 MIT Press, updated with additional material by the author.

Glossary Web Thesaurus Compendium. Provides listings of thesauri by alphabetical order and subject. Has links to related literature and software for building thesauri.