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Learning Objectives
• Define metadata and provide examples.
• Define and provide examples of meta tags used in web pages.
• Define metadata schema or types.
• Identify metadata standards.
• Describe how metadata is used by libraries.

metaMetadata means “data about data”.

The term is associated with cataloging because metadata are used to describe digital data. By clearly and precisely describing the content and context of a data file, it’s much easier to locate and make effective use of the item.

Metadata is also a term associated with the creation of web pages. When designing web pages metadata are used to identify the author, copyright date, keywords, and other information about an HTML document.

whoMetadata include information about the Ws of an item including

• who created it
• what content it contains and what standards were used
• where it was created and where it is now
• when and how data was created
• why the data was created

Metadata Basics

Different types of files may require different types of information and description. While a digital image would include metadata about the size, color, and resolution of the image, a text document would include information about length and formatting.

Standards have been developed for different format such as photographs, video, and web pages.

Meta tags are used to identify metadata on webpages.

These tags may specific keywords, a description, the language used, the author, the tool used to generate the code, the type of content, and other useful information.

These meta tags allow web search engines to improve the information retrieval experience and web browsers to improve the information user’s experience.

File extensions such as .jpg and .exe are considered a type of metadata.

Metadata Scheme Types

metadataMetadata can be categorized as descriptive, structural, administrative. Some scholars have added other schemas such as process and technical metadata.

Descriptive metadata is data about the item itself that is useful in finding, selecting, or identifying items. It’s also referred to as data about content or meta-content. Examples include author, title, publisher, subject headings, and keywords.

Structural metadata is data describing the internal organization of an item. It’s sometimes referred to as data about the containers of data. It describes how components are organized.

Administrative metadata is data used to facilitate the management of items. These include data about rights management and preservation.

Metadata standards call for controlled vocabularies, subject thesauri, and other tools to ensure semantic consistency and standardization.

Metadata Standards

International standards have been developed to ensure standardization of metadata.

The Dublin Core metadata terms are a set of vocabulary terms applied to metadata and used by many catalogers.

The Simple Dublin Core include 15 metadata elements including title, creator, subject, description, publisher, contributor, date, type, format, identifier, source, language, relation, coverage, and rights. Click the image below for a larger version.


Metadata and Libraries

ipadMetadata is employed in library catalogs as part of the Integrated Library Management System (ILMS).

Metadata are obtained through the process of cataloging an item using the MARC standards. Library users are then able to search the catalog and locate local or remote items.

Metadata are also used in the creation of library websites, digital databases, digital collections, and digital libraries.

Whether you’re involved with cataloging, digital collection development, information architecture, or other areas of library and information science, it’s important to be aware of how metadata is used for information organization and access.


Metadata is data about data. It describes the who, what, when, where, and why of an item.

Metadata is used in all aspects of library operations including cataloging, digital collection design, and web development.

| eduscapes | IUPUI Online Courses | Contact Us | 2014 Annette Lamb (Adapted from earlier s401 materials)

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