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Metadata Resources

* Introductory :

Iannella, R. & Waugh, A. 1997, Metadata: enabling the Internet, URL: (March 28, 2002).

To find introductions to metadata for the Internet, one often needs to turn to articles written a few years ago when such schemes were first developed and released.  The Australian university researchers who wrote this highly useful introductory article on metadata schemes emphasise the value of metadata in Web searching as it will make such searching faster and more precise.  Schemes given  particular attention include Dublin Core and PICS.  It is foreshadowed that some metadata schemes may need to merge with others to maximise their usefulness.  Any information management professional interested in metadata should read this article before proceeding to more specialised applications of this topic.

Iannella, R. & Campbell, D. 1999, The A-Core: metadata about content metadata, URL: (March 28, 2002).

A university researcher and a librarian describe what is known as A-Core.  This term is defined as "metadata about metadata".  It is clear from this article that metadata may be applied in an hierarchical fashion.  Thus, A-Core metadata is used to describe content metadata (such as Dublin Core) which in turn in used to describe a particular resource.  Some fictional examples of actual HTML and XML where A-Core is used are provided.  In these examples, the differences between A-Core and content metadata may readily be seen.  This article provides an easy to understand introduction to this little known form of metadata and directs interested readers to other Websites for more detailed discussions.

Weibel, S. 1995, Metadata: the foundations of resource description, URL: (March 28, 2002).

While this article is significantly older than most of those listed on this page, it is still quite valuable as it was written by an OCLC researcher in the early days of the deployment of Dublin Core.  It outlines the nature of this scheme plus ideas and recommendations for future expansion.  The author concedes that a limitation of Dublin Core is that in concentrates upon intrinsic, at the expense of extrinsic data - an issue of concern to later researchers such as Rust (1998).  Thus, the most discussed metadata scheme, Dublin Core, is placed in an historical perspective that provides useful background for the understanding of the issues raised in most of the other articles analysed on this page.

* Metadata for corporate Websites :

Drott, M. C. 2002, "Indexing aids at corporate websites: the use of robots.txt and META tags", Information Processing & Management, vol. 38(2), pp. 209-219.

Website designers can assist search engines to index their Web pages in a useful fashion through the creation of a robots.txt file that does not unduly hinder this process, and through the use of informative meta tags, particularly "keywords" and "description".  Out of the sixty Websites belonging to large corporations visited by the author of this article, 37% used both these meta tags in 2000, rising to 43% in 2001.  Some of these sites seemed to used meta tags for internal indexing purposes as well.  The author considers the increased use of such tags to be a positive trend in bringing some order to the chaos of the Web.  A simple article in terms of scope and complexity, but one that reports on an encouraging trend in metadata.

Green, D. 2000, "The evolution of Web searching", Online Information Review, vol. 24(2), pp. 124-137. 

Amidst discussion of the nature and development of Web directories and search engines, this article written by an information consultant mentions the various roles of metadata contained within Web pages.  He outlines how meta tags can be used to hinder as well as assist automatic page indexing.  This need not worry Web searchers as most hindrances are implemented to avoid the indexing of temporary pages.  Effective metadata creation requires proper tuition in the complexities of the latest schemes.  Although metadata is not an exceptionally prominent topic in this article, it is placed in an informative context of trends in Web searching and indexing as a whole.

Kammerdiener, T. & Smith, L. 1999, "Supporting a Web based curriculum with a diverse mix of authoring competency", Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education International Conference, Site 99, San Antonio, Texas, pp. 1-7.

Metadata may be used in corporate Web page development situations where several authors might work on the same page or where one person might design templates for the use of other page authors.  In these cases, metadata indicates where particular sections begin and end.  Particular authors may then modify just one or more sections of each page.  Sometimes, these sections can be changed via automated means such as the AutoHTML Web design software package which is aimed at novice users.  This all means that Web pages can be easily modified and updated and have a consistent feel throughout the corporate Website.  The American computer science lecturers who wrote this article have shown the value of a little discussed application of metadata.

Lombardi, V. 2002, "Designing for Web services", New Architect, vol. 7(4), pp. 26-29.

US information architect Victor Lombardi emphasises the importance of the use of metadata in Web sites designed for e-commerce.  Standardised terms in the form of taxonomies and controlled vocabularies need to be developed and entered as metadata.  He recommends the creation of easy to use user interfaces for the purposes of fast and accurate entry of metadata into Web pages.  Most importantly, a user oriented approach is recommended owing to the fact that metadata must be useful to those who are considered the end users of the Web pages.  Anyone involved in designing Web pages for e-commerce should read this article for useful tips on how to maximise sales through the use of metadata.

Rust, G. 1998, Metadata: the right approach. An integrated model for descriptive and rights metadata in e-commerce, URL: (March 28, 2002).

A British information management consultant and researcher supports the improvement of existing metadata schemes for the benefit of copyright holders.  He believes that such improvements will lead to easier business transactions concerning the rights to use material as well as for easier identification of the parties that own the rights to a particular item.  Dublin Core comes under considerable criticism for its allegedly imprecise handling of copyright concerns.  This article is of primary interest to those who wish to protect their intellectual property, but is also useful to alert information management professionals to the risks of placing excessive faith in one particular metadata initiative.

Thelwall, M. 2000, "Commercial Web sites: lost in cyberspace", Internet Research: Electronic Networking Applications and Policy, vol. 10(2), pp. 150-159.

This British information technology lecturer surveyed over 60,000 commercial Web sites for their ability to be located using major search engines.  He found that many were not properly registered with search sites and were likely missing out on many potential customers as a result.  Meta tags are proposed as the solution to this issue.  Currently, these tags are not used by the majority of sites, but they are known to prove invaluable in getting search engine spiders to find and correctly index Websites.  Without meta tags, pages may be indexed under worthless headings such as "untitled document" or "home page".  Web designers of all experience levels should read this article to make sure their work can be found and properly indexed by search engines.

* Dublin Core and beyond - implications for librarians :

El-Sherbini, M. 2001, "Metadata and the future of cataloging", Library Review, vol. 50(1), pp. 16-27. 

This author, head of cataloguing at Ohio State University, suggests that new metadata efforts dealing with electronic formats, such as Dublin Core, should be compared to MARC 21 metadata to see if they are as effective as that older standard.  Various new metadata standards are evaluated and found wanting.  She recommends the widespread adoption among libraries of the Library of Congress PCC standard which is based on MARC 21.  PCC provides the depth and flexibility that is lacking in its rivals.  This is a thought provoking article that should cause librarians to rethink the current faith they may place in the Dublin Core or similar metadata initiatives.

Helfer, D. S. 2002, "OCLC's march into the 21st century", Searcher, vol. 10(2), pp. 66-69.

According to this librarian from California State University, the OCLC (Online Computer Library Center) global library co-operative wishes to expand its capabilities to capture, organise, and deliver metadata.  It also wants to develop new types of metadata to properly catalogue the increasingly diverse nature of the resources in its database.  Although the Dublin Core metadata standard is preferred, other schemes (such as those based on MARC 21) will be used in conjunction with it as necessary.  With these changes in place, the OCLC should be well equipped to handle the challenges posed by the increased complexities of information management in this new century.  This is an excellent example of the practical application of metadata in a library environment.

Thornely, J. 2000, "Metadata and the deployment of Dublin Core at State Library of Queensland and Education Queensland, Australia", OCLC Systems & Services, vol. 16(3), pp. 118-129. 

The Metadata Librarian at the State Library of Queensland presents two case studies of the introduction of the Dublin Core metadata scheme into a corporate environment.  She recommends that organisations should ask themselves various questions about their motives and planned procedures concerning metadata prior to actual metadata deployment in order to avoid wasting time and money and inconveniencing their end users.  Metadata may be either simply embedded as it is in the State Library, or used in a complex fashion such as in Education Queensland's Oracle databases.  It is rare to find an article that provides actual detailed case studies of the implementation of metadata, so this item should be valued at least for that reason alone.

Torok, A. G. 1999, "Indexing and metatag schemes for Web-based information retrieval", World Conference on the WWW and Internet Proceedings, Webnet 99, Honolulu, Hawaii, pp. 1-6.

Within a paper presented to a conference of Internet professionals that begins by reviewing the criteria for effective indexing, this US academic laments the fact that Web search engines cannot retrieve relevant articles with as great a degree of precision as most types of more traditional retrieval systems.  XML and Dublin Core are proposed as solutions to rectifying this situation.  They can be used in conjunction with traditional indexing criteria to ensure end users will find the information they seek.  A case study of the implementation of Dublin Core is provided as are suggestions on the efficient and effective entry of this data.  An informative and well written article that should further empahsise the use and value of metadata.

Vellucci, S. L. 1997, Options for organizing electronic resources: the coexistence of metadata", Bulletin of the American Society for Information Science, vol. 24(1), pp. 14-17.

Professor Vellucci remarks that past efforts to bring some order to the vast mass of information available on the Internet have mirrored the nature of the Internet itself in that they have been decentralised and uncoordinated.  She proposes a solution through the creation of a metacatalogue which will enable end users to search across multiple catalogues in order to readily and seamlessly access the information they require regardless of its file format or language of publication.  Dublin Core metadata can assist in this objective because it is sufficiently flexible as to allow for user customisation as needed.  An ambitious proposal, but one that is well reasoned and quite thought provoking.

Weibel, S. L. 1996, The Warwick Metadata Workshop: a framework for the deployment of resource description, URL: (March 28, 2002).

A UK academic reports on the proceedings of a metadata conference.  The conference decided to expand usage of the Dublin Core metadata scheme to ensure its inclusion in documents other than HTML, undertake further developments on the Warwick Framework, and to produce a guide for the creation and maintenance of metadata.  Even at this relatively early stage, it was clear that Dublin Core could not always be used on its own owing to certain limitations, and as such would have to be used in conjunction with more traditional MARC records.  This is not an introductory article like Weibel's earlier work, but it is still valuable for providing historical background for important later developments in the use (particularly the expansion) of metadata.

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Anthony Larme 2002
Comments and questions are most welcome