D-Lib Magazine
February 2002

Volume 8 Number 2

ISSN 1082-9873

Dublin Core Metadata Initiative Progress Report and Workplan for 2002


Makx Dekkers
Managing Director
Dublin Core Metadata Initiative
<[email protected]>

Stuart L. Weibel
Executive Director
Dublin Core Metadata Initiative
<[email protected]>

Red Line



The Dublin Core Metadata Initiative (DCMI) progressed on many fronts in 2001, including launching important organizational changes, achievement of major objectives identified in the previous year, completion of ANSI standardization, and increased community participation and uptake of the standard. The annual workshop, held in Asia for the first time this past October, was broadened in scope to include a tutorial track and conference. This report summarizes the accomplishments and changes that have taken place in the Initiative during the past year and outlines the workplan for the coming year.

DCMI Mission and Activities

Following the Dublin Core workshop in 2000, the mission of the Dublin Core Metadata Initiative was defined as follows:

To make it easier to find resources using the Internet through the following activities:

  1. Developing metadata standards for discovery across domains,
  2. Defining frameworks for the interoperation of metadata sets, and,
  3. Facilitating the development of community- or disciplinary-specific metadata sets that are consistent with items 1 and 2.

The past year witnessed important progress in each of these areas, outlined below.

Strategic Developments Involving External Organizations

Standardization of Dublin Core

The Dublin Core element set has been developed over the past years as an open, consensus-building effort with strong involvement of practitioners from many user communities. Wider adoption, particularly in the public sector in many countries, made formal standardization particularly important. In 1998, a Standards Working Group was established to coordinate the official standardization of the Dublin Core element set in several standards organizations.

The first result, early in 2000, was the adoption of version 1.1 of the Dublin Core element set (the basic 15 elements) as CEN Workshop Agreement 13874 in Europe [CEN-CWA]. In 2001, a slightly modified version was ratified under the auspices of the National Information Standards Organization (NISO) as ANSI Standard Z39.85 [NISO-Z39.85].

In the coming year, this national standard will be submitted to ISO for fast track standardization. We anticipate that bringing together these various international standardization efforts will improve visibility and credibility of the Dublin Core as a major resource discovery standard on the Internet.


At DC-8 in Ottawa in October 2000, DCMI and representatives of the IEEE-Learning Object Metadata (LOM) working group concluded a memorandum of understanding indicating possible areas of convergence of principles and encoding approaches that have the potential to increase interoperability between the two communities [DCMI-IEEE-MOI]. A subsequent meeting in Ottawa in August 2001 identified specific work items that are now underway, including the publication of a set of common principles and practicalities that should be of value to metadata practitioners in these respective communities as well as among metadata practitioners in general. Publication of this work is expected in early 2002.

On the basis of the common principles identified, practical guidance will be developed, including a set of examples that illustrate how metadata should be generated in a given application profile involving both DCMI and LOM metadata as well as examples of application profiles in the form of a machine readable compound schema.

Further issues to be addressed are the development and maintenance of registries and an assessment of the degree of semantic drift that may have developed in the LOM interpretation of DCMI terms.

DC and OAI

The initial version of the OAI protocol calls for the use of unqualified Dublin Core as the required default metadata set [OAI]. However, implementation of this recommendation is not without difficulty, and may result in awkward representation of some types of resources. In addition, the current protocol associates an OAI-specific XML schema with the DC namespace rather than pointing to the DCMI-maintained site. Recent concerns about these issues in both communities have resulted in closer liaison between their technical groups, and this is expected to result in collaborative efforts to resolve these issues in the coming year.

W3C Semantic Web Activity

The launch of the Semantic Web activity by the W3C recognizes the increasing importance of supporting the infrastructure for defining, registering, and referencing structured vocabularies and ontologies on the Web [SWA]. The Dublin Core is an important part of this infrastructure, and the DCMI community has played a major role in laying the foundations for this work.

2001 Workplan Results

A number of important results have been achieved in the past year. Highlights include:

  • DCMI Namespace Policy

    This policy became a DCMI Recommendation in November 2001, establishing the principles for the URIs that identify three DCMI namespaces and the terms that are defined in these namespaces [DCMI-NAMESPACE]:

    • The basic element set DC version 1.1;
    • Additional elements and qualifiers; and
    • Controlled vocabularies to be used with Dublin Core elements and qualifiers, e.g., DCMI Types.
  • Expression of simple and qualified Dublin Core in RDF/XML

    Two documents were finalized in 2001 and are expected to become DCMI Recommendations in early 2002. The first of these documents explains how to express unqualified Dublin Core metadata in RDF with XML syntax, and contains many encoding examples [DC-RDF]. The second document addresses the more complex case of encoding qualified Dublin Core in RDF [DC-RDF-QUAL].
  • Prototype DCMI Registry

    In October, two prototypes of the DCMI Registry were presented at the annual Dublin Core workshop. These prototypes are the basis for further development of the Registry that will be the reference source for the definitions of the Dublin Core metadata terms. In the future, this Registry will also contain the machine-readable expressions of the semantics of these metadata terms. The DCMI registry prototypes are accessible at [DC-REGISTRY].
  • Usage Guide

    The previous Usage Guide has proven useful to implementers of Dublin Core metadata. It provided guidance on how to implement the basic 15 elements. In 2001, a new Guide was published as a DCMI Recommendation that additionally provides guidance for the implementation of the Dublin Core qualifiers [DC-GUIDE].
  • DCMI Tools Working Group meeting

    In June 2001, a number of implementers of tools supporting Dublin Core metadata came together in a meeting in Osnabr´┐Żck, Germany, to discuss common problems and solutions [DC-TOOLS]. On the basis of presentations and discussions of practical work, valuable feedback was given on the draft Namespace Policy [DCMI-NAMESPACE]. Requirements for validation and data-typing of metadata records, and the applicability of new approaches like DAML and Schematrons were also discussed. This meeting was the first of its kind and was considered a useful opportunity for implementers to exchange experiences. It is expected that a similar event may be held in 2002.
  • Ratification of DC version 1.1 as ANSI standard Z39.85

    In September, NISO announced its recommendation to ANSI to publish the basic 15 elements of Dublin Core as a US National Standard [NISO-Z39.85].
  • Recommendation of Education extensions

    In its meeting in May 2001, the Usage Board discussed and endorsed an extension proposal brought forward by the educational community through the Education Working Group [DC-ED-EXT]. This community proposed a new element ('Audience') to specify the category of user mediating access to the resource and for whom the resource is intended or useful, and a qualifier for the Relation element ('ConformsTo') containing a reference to an established standard to which the resource conforms.
  • Development of Library and Government Application Profiles

    Two communities have been active in defining how to use Dublin Core metadata in their domain: the library community [DC-LIB-AP] and the government community [DC-GOV-AP]. These groups are in the process of defining Application Profiles and identifying additional implementation rules and controlled vocabularies (thesauri, ontologies) that will allow implementations in these domains to achieve a high level of interoperability.
  • Product announcements

    In 2001, one of the major product announcements related to Dublin Core was the release of Adobe Acrobat 5.0 with built-in metadata facility that supports use of the Dublin Core as a base element set [ADOBE].

The Tokyo Conference

The scope of the annual workshop was broadened in 2001 to include a peer-reviewed conference track and a tutorial track to augment the longstanding workshop track. Held in Tokyo in October, DC-2001 was DCMI's first major event held in Asia [DC-2001]. The conference was hosted by the National Institute for Informatics in central Tokyo, a superb physical facility, and was supported with exceptional organizational skill by the NII staff [NII]. The 300 conferees from nearly 30 countries will not soon forget the hospitality of our hosts in Tokyo, whose thoughtful planning and gracious hospitality made a long week of meetings and community-building flow smoothly.

The DCMI annual workplan is defined largely at the workshops, thus a review of the year past begins with objectives defined in the Ottawa DC-8 meeting and culminates with DC-2001 in Tokyo.

Extending the community

Community building is an important function of DCMI in general and the conference series in particular. The choice of Tokyo as a venue for DC 2001 is emblematic of the importance of conducting our work globally. Many new attendees at DC 2001 came from communities within Japan and other Asian countries that are eager to deploy metadata in ways that will improve the visibility of their resources. Registrants included representatives from 11 countries in Asia and nearly 30 countries overall.

During the Tokyo conference, two new interest groups were formed: Accessibility and Environment.

The Accessibility Interest Group will look at an appropriate way to represent accessibility information in Dublin Core, as well as advise the Initiative on the accessibility of its products.

The Environment Interest Group bring together representatives from organizations involved in managing environmental information with the objective of promoting interoperability within the domain through the use of Dublin Core.

Charters for both of these groups can be found on the DCMI Website [DCMI] under Working Groups.

Government and Supra-national agencies

In the last year, we have seen a rapid increase of take-up of Dublin Core metadata in government and supranational agencies.

In Europe, a number of national e-government programs came together in a meeting in June in Brussels with representatives of the European Commission's IDA (Interchange of Data between Administrations) program and the European Parliament to talk about standards for government information. At that meeting, it became clear that all of the activities represented opted for the Dublin Core as their base metadata format. A work item was established under the IDA program, entitled MIReG (Managing Information Resources for e-Government) that is now coordinating the further promotion of Dublin Core in the public sector in Europe [MIREG].

Countries that have already issued recommendations to use the Dublin Core for government information include Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Finland and Denmark. Other countries are in the process of issuing similar recommendations as well.

Supranational organizations that have adopted the Dublin Core metadata element set include the UN Food and Agriculture Organization [UN-FAO], the UN Environment Program [UN-EP], the World Health Organization, and the European Environmental Agency [EEA].

The take-up of DC metadata in these supra-governmental agencies is similarly emblematic of the cross-disciplinary and cross-cultural adoption of the standard.

Future Outlook and Workplan for 2002

At a meeting of the Advisory Committee in October in Tokyo, the following list of technical priorities was agreed for the workplan 2002:

  • Further work on extensions and Application Profiles from the educational, government, and library communities

    There is a notable increase in deployment plans in these communities that require community specific recommendations. This work will continue from the activities that have taken place in 2001 in the respective working groups.
  • Expression of Dublin Core metadata in XML

    Following the recommendations on how to express Dublin Core metadata in RDF/XML, a need has been identified for a similar recommendation how to express DC metadata in XML without the use of RDF. A draft of such a recommendation has been prepared in 2001 and is expected to go through finalization and review in 2002 [DC-XML] as one of the activities in the Architecture working group.
  • Agent Linking

    The value of an instance of a given DC metadata element is generally expected to be an appropriate literal (a string value). Many communities have an additional functional requirement to refer to separate structured values as well. These include formal authority structures such as Library of Congress Name Authority file, directory-like general-purpose structures such as vCard, and commercial files such as the Interested Party file used in the music rights management arena. There is a recognized need for an agreed upon convention for referring to such external structured data as an alternative (or complement) to an appropriate literal as the value of an element. The effort to establish this convention is ongoing in the Agents Working Group, but the functionality will be useful in other cases where explicit links to external structures are appropriate as metadata values.
  • CCP Qualifiers

    In the basic element set, three elements (Creator, Contributor and Publisher, hence CCP) share the aspect that they describe people or organizations. That these elements need qualifiers has been identified (for example, refining the role that a person or organization plays in the creation of the resource, or specifying additional information to the name of the person or organization). This work will be taken up in the 2002 activities of the Agents working group.
  • Citation proposals

    In 2001, work started on defining a mechanism to record bibliographic citation information for journal articles in Dublin Core. This work is one of the activities of the Citation working group.
  • ISO fast track process start

    Following the adoption of DC version 1.1 as a CEN Workshop Agreement and the ratification of Z39.58 as a US National Standard, the Standards working group will start its coordination of moving forward acceptance of DC version 1.1 as an international standard through the International Organization for Standardization ISO.
  • New User Guide

    With the adoption of the recommendations for the expression of Dublin Core metadata in RDF/XML and the work on XML expression, the Usage Guide needs to be updated with guidance for these expressions, with appropriate examples. This work will be done in the User Guide working group.
  • Operational registry to support the Usage Board

    Now that the Usage Board is in full operation, there is a need to unambiguously record its decisions in a way that allows all implementers to gain easy access to a well-managed registry.

As regards the organizational aspects, important activities in 2002 will be:

  • Installation of the Board of Trustees and the Advisory Board

    These activities, started in 2001, will lead to the formal installation of these two Boards, marking an important step of the organizational transition of the Dublin Core Metadata Initiative.
  • Development of a business plan including identification and development of funding sources

    It was one of the main objectives of the organizational transition to ensure a long-term sustainability of the Dublin Core Metadata Initiative. In 2002, the Directorate will reinforce its activities in building a three-year business plan and recruitment of financial support.

DCMI Organizational Changes

The DCMI Advisory Committee (DC-AC) met in February to chart organizational changes judged necessary to support the mission and activities, to ensure the stability and sustainability of the standard, and to support activities intended to improve its usefulness. The DC-AC charged the DCMI Directorate with the responsibility to develop and execute plans to achieve these goals.

Hiring a Managing Director was an important step in this direction. Makx Dekkers was selected for this role because of his background in the Dublin Core effort, his experience in project management and understanding of the European metadata landscape, as well as his experience in standardization in the European Union.

Distributing management responsibilities geographically presents substantial challenges (Makx Dekkers lives and works in Luxembourg, while the DCMI Directorate is hosted at OCLC in the US), but it was felt that accepting these challenges is important in supporting DCMI's global commitments. The arrangement has worked well, and the strengthening of formal project management in the Initiative has improved productivity and speeded completion of important deliverables.

Recruiting a Board of Trustees

DCMI has recently announced the formation of a Board of Trustees that will oversee the operation of the Initiative [DCMI-TRUSTEES]. Trustee members, from 6 countries on 4 continents, have been recruited to provide a combination of skills and geographic diversity appropriate to strengthening the Initiative and broadening its reach.

The Board will assist in strategic planning and provide guidance as to choices concerning allocation of resources and the focus of the Initiative as a whole.

The Board will also assist in the development of community support that will increase the resources available to the Initiative through development of sponsors, members, and targeted foundation support. This will not only increase the resources available to pursue the work of the Initiative, but will also share the responsibility for providing these resources so as to more accurately reflect the interests of the stakeholders.

Finally, the Board will provide financial oversight of the Initiative to assure that funds contributed are expended efficiently and effectively in support of the mission and objectives.

DCMI Usage Board

The DCMI Usage Board is chartered to act as an editorial committee for Dublin Core metadata. Just as dictionaries have committees to review and revise the contents of dictionaries and the usage of particular words, the DCMI Usage Board will accept proposals from working groups and will evaluate such proposals for their conformance to the principles and architecture of Dublin Core metadata, and will either approve them or send them back to the working groups with instructions on how the proposals can be improved to meet their specific objectives and to do so in a way that will become a coherent part of the overall DC metadata language.

The Usage Board met twice in 2001, developing a formal review process and reviewing proposals in the area of educational metadata, government information metadata, and procedures for registering externally maintained encoding schemes.

DCMI Advisory Board

Another important aspect of the organizational transition was initiated with the chartering of the DCMI Advisory Board in January of 2002. This Board will replace the Advisory Committee as the main forum for technical and strategic coordination within the DCMI, with its members representing specific technical expertise (e.g., working group chairs are ex officio members) as well as ensure liaisons with implementer communities, product developers and other metadata initiatives. One of the main responsibilities of the Advisory Board is to advise the Directorate on potential gaps and overlaps in the activities of the Working Groups.


DCMI remains committed to its mission to serve the user community, to further develop its role in the wider context of the semantic Web, and to create a stable platform for future developments and outreach to the commercial sector (especially product development and knowledge technologies).

In 2001, we have seen important achievements, both in the technical area as well as in the organizational restructuring of the Initiative. The 2002 workplan is well underway and moving towards DC-2002, to be held in Florence, Italy in October of this year. The commitment of the many people who invest their time, energy and intellectual resources to develop the Dublin Core gives ample reason for optimism that DCMI will continue to lead the development of cross disciplinary resource discovery standards for the Web.


[ADOBE] Adobe Solutions Network: Developer Knowledgebase <>.

[CEN-CWA] Metadata - Dublin Core (MMI-DC) Workshop [Home Page]. Accessed January, 2002. <>.

[DC-2001] DC-2001 International Conference on Dublin Core and Metadata Applications 2001 [Home Page] October 22-26, 2001, National Institute of Informatics, Tokyo, Japan <>.

[DC-ED-EXT] Domain Specific Education Recommendations <>.

[DC-GOV-AP] DC-Government Application Profile <>.

[DC-GUIDE] Using Dublin Core. Diane Hillmann. 2001-04-12 <>.

[DC-LIB-AP] Library Application Profile. Rebecca Guenther, 2001-10-12 <>.

[DC-RDF] Expressing Simple Dublin Core in RDF/XML. Beckett, Dave, Eric Miller, and Dan Brickley, Dublin Core Metadata Initiative Proposed Recommendation. 2001-11-28 <>.

[DC-RDF-QUAL] Expressing Simple Dublin Core in RDF/XML. Beckett, Dave; Miller, Eric; Brickley, Dan. 2001-09-20 <>.

[DC-REGISTRY] DCMI Registry Prototype [Home Page]. <>.

[DC-TOOLS] DCMI Tools Workshop [Home Page]. 2001-06-22. <>.

[DC-XML] Guidelines for implementing Dublin Core in XML. Powell, Andy; Johnston, Pete. 2001-12-20 <>.

[DCMI] Dublin Core Metadata Initiative [Home Page]. Accessed January, 2002 <>.

[DCMI-IEEE-MOI] Memorandum of Understanding between the Dublin Core Metadata Initiative and the IEEE Learning Technology Standards Committee 2000-12-06. <>.

[DCMI-NAMESPACE] Namespace Policy for the Dublin Core Metadata Initiative (DCMI). Powell, Andy; Wagner, Harry; Weibel, Stuart L.; Miller, Eric, and Baker, Tom. 2001-09-17 <>.

[DCMI-TRUSTEES] DCMI Board of Trustees [Home Page]. <>.

[EEA] European Environment Information and Observation Network (EIONET): Metadata issues (DublinCore and RDF) 2001-09-19. <>.

[MIREG] First 'Managing information resources for e-Government' conference. June 2001. <>

[NII] National Institute for Informatics [Home Page]. Tokyo, Japan. Accessed January 2002 <>.

[NISO-Z39.85] Dublin Core Metadata Element Set Approved. Oct 5, 2001. <>.

[OAI] Open Archives Initiative [Home Page]. Accessed January, 2002. <>.

[SWA] Semantic Web Activity Home Page. Accessed January 2002. <>.

[UN-EP] The UNEPnet/Mercure System. Accessed January 2002. <>.

[UN-FAO] The Agricultural Metadata Standards Initiative <>.

Copyright 2002 Makx Dekkers and Stuart L. Weibel

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DOI: 10.1045/february2002-weibel