If sense is to be made of the flood of information that will be available through digital libraries, it must be described effectively, so that it can be found, its value assessed, and its acquisition handled efficiently. Metadata is the term most often used to refer to the description of information objects to support these three functions of digital libraries. Digital library technology is capable of both supporting major augmentations to traditional metadata activities and providing a basis for catalog interoperability.
D-Lib is associated with two activities in this field. Both focus on the process by which creators of digital information can add metadata to their work at the time of creation. This metadata is then available for computer programs to use in building indexes and other access tools. It is also available as a basis for subsequent cataloguing or the creation of secondary information services.
The first of these activities comes out of the Alexandria Digital Library project at the University of California, Santa Barbara. This project concentrates on geospatial information, such as maps, but its studies of metadata are broad based and applicable to all types of on-line data. Alexandria is one of the projects in the ARPA/NSF/NASA Digital Library Initiative (DLI) and its metadata studies involve members of several of the other DLI projects.
The second activity is the Metadata I and Metadata II invited workshop series. The first of these was sponsored by OCLC and NCSA in March 1995, chaired by Stuart Weibel of OCLC. Its major contribution was the "Dublin Core" metadata elements. D-Lib has agreed to be a sponsor of subsequent workshops.
These two activities are inter-related. In particular, Alexandria is using the Dublin Core as a building block for its own developments.
Last revised: March 17, 1996