Thursday, January 10, 2008

Metadata (definition)

What is metadata? Metadata means data about data. Although the definition sounds simple, metadata is anything but. Metadata is used to describe the context, content and structure of materials. Those materials might be books, photographs, archival records, audiotapes, video, etc. Often it is the metadata that is searched thus leading you to the item that you desire.

While there are metadata standards (e.g., Dublin Core and MARC), often metadata can be flexible. Flexibility allows the metadata to be geared towards a specific project or application. However, some people find the flexibility to be frustrating.

Others are frustrated knowing that metadata must be created and that its creation takes time. Some project managers may need to be convinced that robust metadata will be important to their projects, and that doing without it will be harming to information access.

While it is possible for anyone to create metadata, generally it is someone who has been trained in metadata creation who is charged with that responsibility. Metadata creation can be outsourced successfully, if the institution takes time to communicate its needs and expectations.

Although metadata is similar to indexing, cataloguing and tagging, it is different. A person who knows how to index, for example, does not automatically know everything about metadata creation.

Other Digitization 101 posts on metadata include:

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1 comment:

Unknown said...

Professor, I really get great help from to understand the concept of metadata.