From UA Libraries Digital Services Planning and Documentation
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What it is, and why it's important The library community and its allied partners have provided at least one definition for metadata for their respective communities. Here are a couple of examples:

      "A characterization or description documenting the identification, management, nature, use, or location
       of information resources (data)." [The Society of American Archivists' A Glossary of Archival and Records
      "Metadata is structured, encoded data that describe characeristics of information-bearing entities to aid in the
       identification, discovery, assessment, and management of the described entities."  [ALA Task Force on
       Metadata, 1999]

To meet specific needs of a community or collection, a set of metadata elements (tags) known collectively as a schema is created that will neet the requirements.

Common charactertistics of metadata schemas

      *a limited number of elements
      *the name of the element
      *the definition of the element
      *element's criteria 

The University of Alabama Digital Collections are cultural heritage collections. Elements in schemas for cultural heritage materials have broad definitions and criteria so institutions may narrow definitions and set criteria to meet their needs.

Metadata schemas for the cultural heritage items include the CDP Metadata Working Group's [Dublin Core Metadata Best PracticesWestern Best Practices][1]. Mandatory elements include: title, creator (if available), subject, description, date digital, date orginal (if applicable), format, digitization specifications, resource identifier, and rights management.

With a primary metadata schema in place, other elements may be added to meet the needs of the collection. The elements may be added and/or borrowed from another schema.

Fields unique to our collections include "Donor" and "Funder" mapped to dc.Publisher. These terms are from the MARC relator codes,

       Defintions from MARC Code List: Relator Codes --Term Sequence 
       Donor defined as "use for person or orgainzation who is the donor of a book, manuscript, etc., to its
       present owner.  Donors to previous owners are designated as Former owner or Inscriber."
       Funder defined as "use for a person or organization that furnished financial support for the production of
       the work." 

Metadata functions are grouped in three broad types by function. The types may be represented by an element in schema or a schema may be dedicated to the function.

  • Descriptive metadata This is the most common type of metadata, the one that most people have used. It is data that describes and identifies digital objects whether they were orginally physical artifacts or born digitally.
  • Administrative metadata It is used to manage and administer .. It is an umbrella term for the following:
         *Technical metadata provides specifications that describes the generation of the digital object including
          reformatting history.  It manages digital objects.]]
         *Rights metadata specifies legal access to our end users.
  • StructuralMetadata that structure the metadata record usually with a hierarchical arrangement. METS is an example of a metadata schema dedicated to structural metadata.

Our chosen metadata schemes (why and for what)