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Metadata for the Information Professional

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17:610:520, or 17:610:522, or permission of the Instructor


Detailed examination of issues and problems relating to the creation and application of metadata in various information environments. Major metadata schemes, encoding standards, and container architecture are examined with emphasis on functions, syntax, semantics, quality and evaluation. Additional topics for examination will include resource identifiers, controlled vocabularies, and metadata project management.


Course Objectives

Students will gain an overview of the primary metadata schemes used in digital library environments with a strong theoretical background combined with practical application. By the end of the course, students will understand:

  • the development and use of metadata in the library, archival, museum, information center, and Internet communities
  • the various types and uses of metadata
  • the importance of standards
  • the content, syntax, and structure of the major metadata schemes used by libraries, archives, information centers, and museums
  • the role of metadata in information retrieval
  • the use of controlled vocabularies
  • the practical creation and application of metadata
  • the importance of metadata quality and evaluation

Organization of the Course

The course will cover aspects of the most significant metadata schemes in detail. Since it is impossible to cover all existing metadata schemes and topics in-depth, students will augment their knowledge by selecting a scheme or topic of special interest to them for the WebBlog Assignment. Units of instruction include:



Week 1

1: Metadata Overview

  • History of schemes and metadata communities
  • Functions and Types of metadata

Week 2

2:1: Metadata Structure and Characteristics

  • Semantics, syntax, and structure
  • Metadata creation process models
  • Interoperability

2:2: Metadata Integration and Architecture

  • Warwick Framework
  • Resource Description Framework
  • Open Archives Initiative

Week 3

3: Encoding Standards (Markup Languages )

  • Introduction and history of markup
  • Metadata use of markup languages
  • Document Type Definitions (DTD)

Week 4

4:1: Metadata Object Description Schema (MODS)

4:2: Dublin Core Metadata Element Set (DCMES)

  • Simple and qualified element sets
  • DCMES tools and projects

Week 5

5: Metadata Encoding & Transmission Standard (METS)

  • Structural metadata

Week 6

6: Guest Lecturer: Grace Agnew

  • Rutgers' & NJDH metadata projects
  • METS applications
  • Course project 2: Metadata creation

Week 7

7: Visual Resources Metadata

  • Categories for the Description of Works of Art (CDWA)
  • Visual Resources Association (VRA) Core
  • Computer Interchange of Museum Information (CIMI)
  • CDWA, VRA, and CIMI Projects

Week 8

8: Data Control Standards

  • Resource Identifiers
  • Data Registries
  • Controlled vocabularies
  • Name authority control (ISAAR and FRANAR)
  • A-Core

Week 9

9:1: Encoded Archival Description (EAD)

  • EAD Headers
  • EAD Projects

9:2: Text Encoding Initiative (TEI)

  • TEI Headers
  • TEI Projects

Week 10

10: Metadata Evaluation

  • User needs
  • Quality control issues
  • Evaluation methods

Week 11

11: Guest Lecturer: Grace Agnew

  • Publishing and Multimedia Industry Metadata
  • Online Information eXchange (ONIX)
  • Moving Pictures Expert Group (MPEG-7 and MPEG-21)
  • SMIL (Synchronized Multimedia Integration Language)

Week 12

12: Educational Metadata

  • Instructional Management Systems (IMS)
  • Learning Object Metadata (LOM)
  • Gateway to Educational Materials (GEM)

Week 13

13: Government Information Locator Service (GILS)

  • GILS Element Set
  • GILS Projects
  • Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC) Content Standards for Digital Geospatial Metadata (FGDC Element Set)
  • FGDC Projects

Week 14

14: In-class Discussion of Project

Major Assignments

Students are expected to complete assigned weekly readings and participate in discussions of key issues and problems in the metadata field. In addition, the course uses a variety of projects, assignments, and activities to support the learning process, develop critical thinking skills, and provide practical application of the knowledge gained during the semester. The WebBlog Assignment allows students to examine specific metadata schemes and related topics in depth. The RU Metadata Project is designed to apply conceptual knowledge and practical skills to metadata creation, and work cooperatively in teams. The Metadata Project Journal is to track your knowledge growth throughout the project.

This course requires extensive use of technology, with onsite and online discussions. It includes lectures, media presentations and field trips (virtual and physical). Instruction includes guest lectures with experts in different areas of metadata to provide cutting edge information from the work environment. Assessment is based on the following criteria:

Metadata project


Metadata project journal


WebBlog Assignment


Collaborative participation



Required Text:

Miller, Steven J. (2011.) Metadata for Digital Collections (How To Do It Manual). New York: Neal-­Schuman Publishers. ISBN-­13:978-­1555707460.

Recommended Texts:

Understanding Metadata. National Information Standards Organization, 2004. ISBN: 1-880124-62-9. (16 pages.) PDF available online:

Hillmann, Diane I., and Elaine L. Westbrooks. Metadata in Practice. Chicago: American Library Association, 2004. ISBN: 0-8389-0882-9.

Hudgins, J., Agnew, G., & Brow, E. (1999). Getting Mileage out of Metadata: Applications for the Library. (LITA Guides #5). Chicago: American Library Association.

Baca, M. (Ed.) (1998). Introduction to Metadata: Pathways to Digital Information. Los Angeles: Getty Information Institute. Version 2.0 Getty Research Institute, [2000?]. Online:

Selective Bibliography: This bibliography is presented to help you begin to immerse yourselves in the metadata environment. It is not a comprehensive list and we will be adding citations to it during the course.

Arms, Caroline. (2000). Some Observations on Metadata and Digital Libraries. Discussion paper presented at the Library of Congress Bicentennial Conference on Bibliographic Control for the New Millennium. Available online:

Baker, Thomas, et al. (2001). What Terms Does Your Metadata Use? Application Profiles as Machine-Understandable Narratives. Journal of Digital Information, 2, 2. Available online:

Banerjee, Kyle. "How Does XML Help Libraries?" Computers in Libraries 22:8 (Sept., 2002). Online:

Barton, Jane, Currier, Sarah and Hey, Jessie M.N. (2003). Building Quality Assurance into Metadata Creation: an Analysis based on the Learning Objects and e-Prints Communities of Practice. Available on:

Berners-Lee, Tim, Hendler, James and Lassila, Ora. (2001). "The Semantic Web." Scientific American. Available online:

Bishoff, Liz, and William A. Garrison. (2000). "Metadata, Cataloging, Digitization and Retrieval: Who's Doing What to Whom: The Colorado Digitization Project Experience." Discussion paper presented at the Library of Congress Bicentennial Conference on Bibliographic Control for the New Millennium. Available online:

Buckland, Michael, et al. (1999). "Mapping data entry vocabulary to unfamiliar metadata vocabularies." D-Lib Magazine 5, 1. Available online:

Caplan, Priscilla. (2000). "International Metadata Initiatives: Lessons in Bibliographic Control." Paper presented at the Library of Congress Bicentennial Conference on Bibliographic Control for the New Millennium, Available online:

Chang, May. (2000). "An Electronic Finding Aid Using Extensible Markup Language (XML) and Encoded Archival Description (EAD)." Library Hi Tech 18, 1: 15-27.

Desmarais, Norman. (2000). The ABCs of XML: The Librarian's Guide to the eXtensibile Markup Language. Houston: New Technology Press.

Digital Library Federation. (1999). "TEI Text Encoding in Libraries: Guidelines for Best Encoding Practice." Version 1.0. Available online:

Digital Library Federation. (2001). Digital Library Standards and Practices. Available online:

Dooley, Jackie M., ed. (1997). Encoded Archival Description. Part 1: Context and Theory. The American Archivist. 60 (3): 264-366. (Entire issue on title topic).

Dooley, Jackie M., ed. (1997). Encoded Archival Description. Part 2: Case Studies. The American Archivist. 60 (4): 367-496. (Entire issue on title topic).

Gilliland-Swetland, Anne J. (1998). "Defining Metadata". In: Introduction to Metadata: Pathways to Digital Information. Murtha Baca, ed. Los Angeles, CA: Getty Information Institute, 1998, updated 2000. (Available online in Sakai Course Resources Page).

Gorman, G. E., ed. (2004). Metadata Applications and Management: International Yearbook of Library and Information Management 2003-2004. London: Facet Publishing.

Greenberg, J. & Robertson, W. (2002). Semantic Web construction: an inquiry of authors' views on collaborative metadata generation, Proceedings of the International Conference on Dublin Core and Metadata for e-Communities, 45-52. Available online:

Greenberg, J., Pattuelli, M.C., Parisia, B. & Robertson, W. D. (2001). Author-generated Dublin Core Metadata for Web Resources: A Baseline Study in an Organization. Journal of Digital Information 2 (2). Available online:

Greenberg, J. (2003). Metadata Generation: Processes, People and Tools. Bulletin of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 29 (2), 18-21. Available online:

Guy, M., Powell, A., & Day, M. (2004). Improving the Quality of Metadata in E-print Archives. Ariadne 38.

Guenther, Rebecca, & McCallum, Sally. (2003). New Metadata Standards for Digital Resources: MODS and METS. Bulletin of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 29 (2), 12-15. Available online:

Ianella, Renato. (1999). "An Idiot's Guide to the Resource Description Framework." Available online:

IEEE Computer Society. IEEE 1484 Learning Object Metadata Standard (2002). Available online:

IEEE Computer Society (2003).Learning Technology, 5 (1). Entire Issue on Learning Object Metadata. Available online:

IMS Global Learning Consortium (2001). IMS Learning Resource Meta-data Best Practice and Implementation Guide. Version 1.3 Final Specification. Available online:

Lagoze, Carl and Herbert Van de Sompel (2004). Open Archives Initiative Protocol for Metadata Harvesting. Protocol Version 2.0; Document Version 2004/09/15T20:21:00Z; Available online:

Lagoze, Carl (2001). "Keeping Dublin Core Simple:Cross-Domain Discovery or Resource Description?" D-Lib Magazine. Available online:

Lee-Smeltzer, Kuang-Hwei. (2000). "Finding the Needle: Controlled Vocabularies, Resource Discovery, and the Dublin Core." Library Collections, Acquisitions, & Technical Services 24: 205-215.

Lesk, Michael. Understanding Digital Libraries, Morgan Kaufmann, 2004.

Miller, Eric. (1998). "An Introduction to the Resource Description Framework." D-Lib Magazine. Available online:

Pockley, S. (2004). Metadata and the Arts: the Art of Metadata. In Gorman, G. & Dorner, D. (2004) International yearbook of Library and information Management 2003/2004: Metadata Applications and Management, London, Facet, pp. 66-92.

Seaman, David. The Electronic Text Center Introduction to TEI and Guide to Document Preparation. Available online:

Society of American Archivists. (2002). Encoded Archival Description Tag Library Version 2002. Available online:

St. Pierre, Margaret, & William P. LaPlant. (1998). "Issues in Crosswalking: Content Metadata Standards." NISO Standards White Paper, Released October 15, 1998. Available online:

Thibodeau, Sharon G., Daniel Pitti, & Randall K. Barry. Development of the Encoded Archival Description DTD. EAD Official Web Site, Library of Congress, Network Development and MARC Standards Office, 1996. Available online:

Vellucci, Sherry L. (2004). Music Metadata. Gorman, G. & Dorner, D. International Yearbook of Library and Information Management 2003/2004: Metadata Applications and Management, London, Facet, pp. 37-65.

_______. (2001). Music Metadata and Authority Control in an International Context. Notes: Quarterly Journal of the Music Library Association, 57 (3), 541-554.

_______. (2000). Metadata and Authority Control. Library Resources & Technical Services, 4 (1): 33-43.

_______. (1999). Metadata and Music: Issues and Directions. Fontes Artis Musicae, 46 (3-4): 205-217.

_______. (1998). Metadata. In Annual Review of Information Science Technology 33. Medford, N.J.: Information Today for the American Society for Information Science, 187-222.

_______. (1997). Options for Organizing Electronic Resources: The Coexistence of Metadata. Bulletin of the American Society for Information Science, 24 (1): 14-17. Available online:

_______. (1996). Herding Cats: Options for Organizing Electronic Resources, Internet Reference Services Quarterly, 1 (4): 9-30.

Weibel, Stuart L. (2000). "The Dublin Core Metadata Initiative: Mission, Current Activities, and Future Directions." D-lib Magazine (December 2000). Available online:

_______.(1997). "The Dublin Core: A Simple Content Description Model for Electronic Resources." Bulletin of the American Society for Information Science, 24 (1): 9-11. Available online:

In addition to this selective bibliography, there is an extensive list of online resources for metadata that includes general sites, specific metadata schemes, standards organizations, and application tools. This will be updated when the course is offered.