Chapter 3: Using Dublin Core: With information from the Dublin Core Metadata Initiative – The Metadata Manual

3

Using Dublin Core

With information from the Dublin Core Metadata Initiative

Abstract:

This chapter describes the history of the Dublin Core Metadata Initiative and the development of the Dublin Core metadata scheme, and provides brief information on changes made to the metadata scheme over time. It includes a discussion of the main principles underlying the standard, definitions of individual properties within the metadata scheme, and guidance in use of the properties for metadata creation. The chapter includes an example of a Dublin Core metadata record, exercises allowing the reader to create Dublin Core metadata, and examples of metadata that could be produced for the exercises.

Key words

Metadata

Dublin Core Metadata Initiative (DCMI)

DCMI Metadata Terms

digital images

Online Computer Library Center (OCLC)

Simple Dublin Core

Background/History

Dublin Core is one of the best known and most widespread metadata initiatives. The initial element set, which consisted of 15 core elements, was developed at a joint conference between OCLC (Online Computer Library Center) and NCSA (National Center for Supercomputing Applications) in 1995 in Dublin, Ohio. The impetus for the creation of the element set was the rapid expansion of the internet, the plethora of information that was subsequently becoming available, and recognition that “the Internet … [would] contain more information than professional abstractors, indexers, and catalogers can manage using existing methods and systems” (Weibel et al., 1995).

The aim and result of the conference was the development of a set of metadata elements that were simple enough for web authors to incorporate into their HTML without needing extensive training in cataloging or indexing (Lagoze, 2001; National Information Standards Organization, 2004, p. 3). The conference also laid the groundwork for the development of the Dublin Core Metadata Initiative: an open, nonprofit organization that has maintained and further developed the initial set of metadata elements.

The initial set of metadata elements (there were 15) functioned in the context of three principles: the One-to-One (1:1) principle, the Dumb-Down principle, and the Appropriate Values principle. The One-to-One principle stated that a Dublin Core metadata record should only describe one manifestation or version of a resource. Therefore, in the case of a photo of the Mona Lisa, the metadata record would describe the photo and not the Mona Lisa itself.

The Dumb-Down principle stated that the user should be able to look at the information in a metadata field with refinements or qualifications and still be able to make sense of the information if the refinements or qualifications were stripped away. For example, the information contained in a title.alternative field should still make sense to the user if the “alternative” refinement were taken away.

The Appropriate Values principle stated that the metadata producer could never assume that their metadata would only be seen by a certain audience or in a certain context, so metadata should always be produced so that it would be understandable by any user in any context. For example, an early twentieth-century picture of the New Mexico State University Marching Band with the title “The Band” would be perfectly understandable for a user looking at a metadata record with an image on campus or in the nearby area; but someone in Michigan who finds the harvested metadata with no accompanying image may have no idea which band or what is being referred to. Good, harvested metadata needs to stand on its own, independent of context.

Changes to Dublin Core

Since the development of the initial Dublin Core metadata elements, the World Wide Web has grown and changed the way we live, produce, and consume information. Dublin Core has changed as well. Where it was once intended solely for the description of electronic resources created and made available on the web, it is now used for “any object that can be identified, whether electronic, real-world, or conceptual” (Dublin Core Metadata Initiative, 2011a). The simplicity of the original 15 elements led to Dublin Core becoming a common, minimum standard for the transmission of metadata, such as with the Open Archives Initiative Protocol for Metadata Harvesting (OAI-PMH). However, this simplicity became as much of a hindrance for some metadata producers as it was an advantage for others. Over time, additional elements and granularity for the original elements were added to make it a more robust and useful standard for description.

Substantial changes have taken place to Dublin Core over the years. For a long time, the Dublin Core Metadata Element Set (DCMES) was composed only of the 15 initial elements, with the additional elements and refinements being added to the specification under the heading of “Other elements and element refinements” as they were developed. The DCMES came to be known as “Simple Dublin Core,” with the DCMES plus additional elements and refinements becoming known as “Qualified Dublin Core.” In 2008, the initial and additional elements were combined, redefined as “properties,” and joined with guidelines on the use of encoding schemes and controlled vocabularies into one large specification known as the DCMI Metadata Terms. Within the terms, there is still a specification for the DCMES, allowing people to continue using “Simple Dublin Core.”

There have also been changes to two of the three principles. The One-to-One principle is largely the same, but the Dumb-Down and Appropriate Values principles have changed and developed in response to technological advances just as Dublin Core has. The Dumb-Down principle has slowly made the move from concentrating on the simplification of metadata to promoting the use of “formal definitions . . . to align metadata description based on different vocabularies” (Dublin Core, 2011b).

The discussion about Appropriate Values has evolved to incorporate ideas on domains and ranges from the Semantic Web, specifically the Resource Description Framework (RDF). More information about RDF is provided in the last chapter in the book. Essentially, domains and ranges provide each of the DCMI properties with more information that can be interpreted by a machine to link data together across the Semantic Web. While this is an important next step for keeping Dublin Core relevant in the changing online environment, for the purposes of this book we’ll focus on the DCMI element definitions and uses.

The DCMI Metadata Terms

There are four terms that serve as the building blocks for resource description in Dublin Core. These terms are properties, classes, datatypes, and vocabulary encoding schemes. Together, these building blocks allow a complete and standardized description of a resource. The following definitions come from the DCMI_MediaWiki User Guide (DCMI, 2011a).

Properties ‒ Properties are what used to be called “elements” in Dublin Core. They are the “core attributes of resources” and allow “uniform structured resource description.”

Classes ‒ Classes in Dublin Core are ways of grouping resources that have properties in common. In many cases, these classes are defined by the DCMI Type Vocabularies (http://dublincore.orgldocuments/dcmi-terms/#H7), making a class something like a collection, moving image, or physical object.

Datatypes ‒ Datatypes were previously known as Syntax Encoding Schemes (SES). These are rules that govern how the information in certain properties is structured. These rules are used in properties such as dates, type, and format.

Vocabulary Encoding Scheme ‒ Vocabulary Encoding Schemes were previously known as Concept Schemes. They are vocabularies whose terms should be used to structure the information in properties such as creator, contributor, and subject.

Understanding the use of the properties will be the most important part of creating Dublin Core metadata for many professionals in the cultural heritage community. For a simple starting point, this text will begin with the properties in the DCMES, listed below. It will then move on to definitions of the other properties contained in the DCMI Metadata Terms. The definitions come from the DCMES namespace (http://dublincore.orgldocumentsldcmi-termsl#H3) and the DCMI_Media Wiki User Guide for Creating Metadata (http://wiki.dublincore.orglindex.php/User_GuidelCreating_Metadata).

The DCMES

contributors

coverage

creator

date

description

format

rights

identifier

language

publisher

relation

source

subject

title

type

DCMES Property definitions

contributor

Label: Contributor

Definition: An entity responsible for making contributions to the resource.

Comment: Examples of a contributor include a person, an organization, or a service. Typically, the name of a contributor should be used to indicate the entity. Recommended best practice is to use a controlled vocabulary such as the Library of Congress Name Authority File (LCNAF) or the Getty Union List of Artist Names (ULAN).

coverage

Label: Coverage

Definition: The spatial or temporal topic of the resource, the spatial applicability of the resource, or the jurisdiction under which the resource is relevant.

Comment: Spatial topic and spatial applicability may be a named place or a location specified by its geographic coordinates. Temporal topic may be a named period, date, or date range. A jurisdiction may be a named administrative entity or a geographic place to which the resource applies. Recommended best practice is to use a controlled vocabulary such as the Thesaurus of Geographic Names (TGN). Where appropriate, named places or time periods can be used in preference to numeric identifiers such as sets of coordinates or date ranges.

Former refinements (now DCMI Terms): spatial and temporal.

creator

Label: Creator

Definition: An entity primarily responsible for making the resource.

Comment: Examples of a creator include a person, an organization, or a service. Typically, the name of the creator should be used to indicate the entity. Recommended best practice is to use a controlled vocabulary such as the LCNAF or the ULAN.

date

Label: Date

Definition: A point or period of time associated with an event in the lifecycle of a resource.

Comment: Date may be used to express temporal information at any level of granularity. Recommended best practice is to use a controlled vocabulary such as ISO 8601.

Former refinements (now DCMI Terms): created, issued, available, modified, valid, dateCopyrighted, dateSubmitted, and dateAccepted.

description

Label: Description

Definition: An account of the resource.

Comment: Description may include but is not limited to: an abstract, a table of contents, a graphical representation, or a free-text account of the resource.

Former refinements (now DCMI Terms): abstract, tableOfContents.

format

Label: Format

Definition: The file format, physical medium or dimensions of the resource.

Comment: Examples of dimension include size and duration. Recommended best practice is to use a controlled vocabulary such as the Internet Media Types (MIME types).

Former refinements (now DCMI Terms): extent, medium.

identifier

Label: Identifier

Definition: An unambiguous reference to the resource within a given context.

Comment: Recommended best practice is to identify the resource by means of a string conforming to a formal identification system.

Former refinements (now DCMI Terms): bibliographicCitation.

language

Label: Language

Definition: A language of the resource.

Comment: Recommended best practice is to use a controlled vocabulary, such as the three letter language tags of ISO 639.

publisher

Label: Publisher

Definition: An entity responsible for making the resource available.

Comment: Examples of a publisher include a person, an organization, or a service. Typically, the name of a publisher should be used to indicate the entity. Because of the One-to-One principle, the publisher may not be the publisher of a physical object portrayed by a digital object, but the party for making the digital object itself available. Recommended best practice is to use a controlled vocabulary such as the LCNAF when possible.

relation

Label: Relation

Definition: A related resource.

Comment: Recommended best practice is to identify the related resource by means of a string conforming to a formal identification system. Relationships may be described reciprocally, but it is not required.

Former refinements (now DCMI Terms): isPartOf, hasPart, isVersionOf, hasVersion, isFormatOf, hasFormat, replaces, isReplacedBy, requires, isRequiredBy, references, isReferencedBy, conformsTo.

rights

Label: Rights

Definition: Information about rights held in and over the resource.

Comment: Typically, rights information includes a statement about various property rights associated with the resource, including intellectual property rights.

Former refinements (now DCMI Terms): accessRights, license.

source

Label: Source

Definition: A related resource from which the described resource is derived.

Comment: The described resource may be derived from the related resource in whole or in part. Recommended best practice is to identify the related resource by means of a string conforming to a formal identification system.

subject

Label: Subject

Definition: The topic of the resource.

Comment: Typically, the subject will be represented using keywords, key phrases, or classification codes. Recommended best practice is to use a controlled vocabulary such as LCSH.

title

Label: Title

Definition: A name given to the resource.

Former refinements (now DCMI Terms): alternative.

type

Label: Type

Definition: The nature or genre of the resource.

Comment: Recommended best practice is to use a controlled vocabulary such as the DCMI Type Vocabulary (DCMITYPE). To describe the file format, physical medium, or dimensions of the resource, use the format element.

Additional DCMI Terms property definitions

abstract

Label: Abstract

Definition: A summary of the resource. Formerly a refinement of: description.

accessRights

Label: Access Rights

Definition: Information about who can access the resource or an indication of its security status.

Comment: Access Rights may include information regarding access orrestrictions based on privacy, security, or other policies. Formerly a refinement of: rights.

accrualMethod

Label: Accrual Method

Definition: The method by which items are added to a collection.

accrualPeriodicity

Label: Accrual Periodicity

Definition: The frequency with which items are added to a collection.

accrualPolicy

Label: Accrual Policy

Definition: The policy governing the addition of items to a collection.

alternative

Label: Alternative Title

Definition: An alternative name for the resource.

Comment: The distinction between titles and alternative titles is application-specific.

Formerly a refinement of: title.

audience

Label: Audience

Definition: A class of entity for whom the resource is intended or useful.

available

Label: Date Available

Definition: Date (often a range) that the resource became or will become available.

Formerly a refinement of: date.

bibliographicCitation

Label: Bibliographic Citation

Definition: A bibliographic reference for the resource.

Comment: Recommended practice is to include sufficient bibliographic detail to identify the resource as unambiguously as possible.

Formerly a refinement of: identifier.

conformsTo

Label: Conforms To

Definition: An established standard to which the described resource conforms.

Formerly a refinement of: relation.

created

Label: Date Created

Definition: Date of creation of the resource. Formerly a refinement of: date.

dateAccepted

Label: Date Accepted

Definition: Date of acceptance of the resource.

Comment: Examples of resources to which a Date Accepted may be relevant are a thesis (accepted by a university department) or an article (accepted by a journal).

Formerly a refinement of: date.

dateCopyrighted

Label: Date Copyrighted

Definition: Date of copyright.

Formerly a refinement of: date.

dateSubmitted

Label: Date Submitted

Definition: Date of submission of the resource.

Comment: Examples of resources to which a Date Submitted may be relevant are a thesis (submitted to a university department) or an article (submitted to a journal).

Formerly a refinement of: date.

educationLevel

Label: Audience Education Level

Definition: A class of entity, defined in terms of progression through an educational or training context, for which the described resource is intended.

Formerly a refinement of: audience.

extent

Label: Extent

Definition: The size or duration of the resource.

Formerly a refinement of: format.

hasFormat

Label: Has Format

Definition: A related resource that is substantially the same as the preexisting described resource, but in another format.

Formerly a refinement of: relation.

hasPart

Label: Has Part

Definition: A related resource that is included either physically or logically in the described resource.

Formerly a refinement of: relation.

hasVersion

Label: Has Version

Definition: A related resource that is a version, edition, or adaptation of the described resource.

Formerly a refinement of: relation.

instructionalMethod

Label: Instructional Method

Definition: A process, used to engender knowledge, attitudes, and skills, that the described resource is designed to support.

Comment: Instructional Method will typically include ways of presenting instructional materials or conducting instructional activities, patterns of learner-to-learner and learner-to-instructor interactions, and mechanisms by which group and individual levels of learning are measured. Instructional methods include all aspects of the instruction and learning processes from planning and implementation through evaluation and feedback.

isFormatOf

Label: Is Format Of

Definition: A related resource that is substantially the same as the described resource, but in another format.

Formerly a refinement of: relation.

isPartOf

Label: Is Part Of

Definition: A related resource in which the described resource is physically or logically included.

Formerly a refinement of: relation.

isReferencedBy

Label: Is Referenced By

Definition: A related resource that references, cites, or otherwise points to the described resource.

Formerly a refinement of: relation.

isReplacedBy

Label: Is Replaced By

Definition: A related resource that supplants, displaces, or supersedes the described resource.

Formerly a refinement of: relation.

isRequiredBy

Label: Is Required By

Definition: A related resource that requires the described resource to support its function, delivery, or coherence.

Formerly a refinement of: relation.

issued

Label: Date Issued

Definition: Date of formal issuance (e.g. publication) of the resource. Formerly a refinement of: date.

isVersionOf

Label: Is Version Of

Definition: A related resource of which the described resource is a version, edition, or adaptation.

Comment: Changes in version imply substantive changes in content rather than differences in format.

Formerly a refinement of: relation.

license

Label: License

Definition: A legal document giving official permission to do something with the resource.

Formerly a refinement of: rights.

mediator

Label: Mediator

Definition: An entity that mediates access to the resource and for whom the resource is intended or useful.

Comment: In an educational context, a mediator might be a parent, teacher, teaching assistant, or care-giver.

Formerly a refinement of: audience.

medium

Label: Medium

Definition: The material or physical carrier of the resource. Formerly a refinement of: format.

modified

Label: Date Modified

Definition: Date on which the resource was changed. Formerly a refinement of: date.

provenance

Label: Provenance

Definition: A statement of any changes in ownership and custody of the resource since its creation that are significant for its authenticity, integrity, and interpretation. Comment: The statement may include a description of any changes successive custodians made to the resource.

references

Label: References

Definition: A related resource that is referenced, cited, or otherwise pointed to by the described resource.

Formerly a refinement of: relation.

replaces

Label: Replaces

Definition: A related resource that is supplanted, displaced, or superseded by the described resource.

Formerly a refinement of: relation.

requires

Label: Requires

Definition: A related resource that is required by the described resource to support its function, delivery, or coherence.

Formerly a refinement of: relation.

rightsHolder

Label: Rights Holder

Definition: A person or organization owning or managing rights over the resource.

spatial

Label: Spatial Coverage

Definition: Spatial characteristics of the resource. Formerly a refinement of: coverage.

tableOfContents

Label: Table of Contents

Definition: A list of subunits of the resource.

Formerly a refinement of: description.

temporal

Label: Temporal Coverage

Definition: Temporal characteristics of the resource.

Formerly a refinement of: coverage.

valid

Label: Date Valid

Definition: Date (often a range) of validity of a resource. Formerly a refinement of: date.

Example record

Figure 3.1 is an example of a Dublin Core metadata record:

Figure 3.1 NMA&MA Aggies Band
New Mexico State University Library, Archives and Special Collections

Available information:

Image properties indicate that the digital item was created on February 25, 2009, using Adobe Photoshop CS3 Macintosh, at 8 bits and 300 dpi.

Date created: 2009-02-25

Description: Image shows the NMA&MA Aggies Band, with instruments, on the steps of a building. Digital image was created using Adobe Photoshop CS3 Macintosh, at 8 bits and 300 dpi. Format: image/jpeg Identifier: NMA&MA Aggies Band Is Format Of: NMA&MA Aggies Band Is Part Of: Hobson-Huntsinger University Archives Language: eng

Publisher: New Mexico State University Library

Rights: Copyright NMSU Board of Regents

Subject: Marching bands; New Mexico College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts

Title: New Mexico College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts Band Type: Still image

Exercises

The following exercises present digital surrogates of items held by the New Mexico State University Library (Figure 3.23.4/\), along with the information available to the metadata cataloger.

Figure 3.2 Camel Rock, circa 1948 New Mexico State University Library, Archives and Special Collections

Figure 3.3 Motorcycle Machine Gun Corp, Las Cruces New Mexico State University Library, Archives and Special Collections

Figure 3.4 Men bagging chili peppers New Mexico State University Library, Archives and Special Collections

Exercise 3.1

 Caption on item reads, “Camel Rock near Santa Fe, New Mexico SF-16”

 Date: 31 July 1948 (postmark)

 Digitized on September 3, 2003 using Adobe Photoshop CS3 Macintosh; at 8 bits and 300 dpi

 Notes (in older database): Sold by Old Trail News Agency, Santa Fe, New Mexico Colour Picture Publication, Boston 15, Massachusetts, U.S.A

 Collection: Thomas K. Todsen Photographs

 Collection Number: Ms0223

 Physical description: photocopy and copy negative

_______________________________________________

_______________________________________________

_______________________________________________

Exercise 3.2

 Handwritten caption on item reads, “Motorcycle Machine Gun Corps, Las Cruces, 1913”

 Digitized on February 26, 2009 using Adobe Photoshop CS3 Macintosh; at 8 bits and 300 dpi

 Collection: Branigan Memorial Library Photographs

 Collection Number: Ms0001

 Physical item: black and white photograph; located in Ms0001, Box 4, Folder 3; Accession number A76-157/241

_______________________________________________

_______________________________________________

_______________________________________________

Exercise 3.3

 Description in older database: Seven men sacking chili peppers for commercial sale

 Digitized on January 13, 2004 using Adobe Photoshop CS5 Macintosh; at 24 bits and 300 dpi

 Date: ca. 1920s-1930s

 Notes: oversize

 Collection: Fabian Garcia Papers

 Collection Number: ua0450

 Physical description: mounted photographic print

_____________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________

Answer key

The production of metadata can sometimes be very subjective, and the fullness of the metadata produced will depend on the amount of information available to the metadata cataloger. However, the following items provide an example of the metadata that could be produced for the above exercises.

Exercise 3.1

 Camel Rock, Circa 1948

 Date: 1948?

 Date created: 2003-09-03

 Description: Caption on image reads, “Camel Rock near Santa Fe, New Mexico. SF-16.” Image shows Camel Rock, surrounded by bushes. Note in an older database reads, “Sold by Old Trail News Agency, Santa Fe, New Mexico Colour Picture Publication, Boston 15, Massachusetts, U.S.A.”

 Format: image/jpeg

 Identifier: 02231280

 Is Format Of: Ms02231280

 Is Part Of: Thomas K. Todsen Photograph Collection, Ms0223

 Language: eng

 Publisher: New Mexico State University Library

 Rights: Copyright NMSU Board of Regents

 Source: photocopy and/or copy negative

 Subject: Camel Rock (N.M.)

 Title: Camel Rock, circa 1948

 Type: Still Image

Exercise 3.2

Motorcycle Machine Gun Corp, Las Cruces

 Date: 1913

 Date Created: 2009-02-26

 Description: Handwritten caption on photograph reads, “Motorcycle Machine Gun Corps, Las Cruces, 1913.” Image shows a number of motorcycles parked in a large, grassy area. Digital image was created using Adobe Photoshop CS3 Macintosh, at 8 bits and 300 dpi.

 Format: image/jpeg

 Identifier: Ms00010258

 Is Format Of: Ms00010258

 Is Part Of: Branigan Memorial Library Photographs, Ms0001

 Language: eng

 Publisher: New Mexico State University Library

 Rights: Copyright NMSU Board of Regents

 Source: Ms0001, Box 4, Folder 3: black and white photograph

 Subject: Motorcycle Machine Gun Corp; Machine guns; Motorcycle sidecars

 Title: Motorcycle Machine Gun Corp, Las Cruces

 Type: Still Image

Exercise 3.3

Men bagging chili peppers

 Date: 1920–1930

 Date created: 2004-01-13

 Description: Older database describes the image as, “Seven men sacking chile peppers for commercial sale,” and notes that the item is oversized. Digital image was created using Adobe Photoshop CS5 Macintosh, at 24 bits and 300 dpi.

 Format: image/jpeg

 Identifier: 04500241

 Is Format of: ua04500241

 Is Part Of: Fabian Garcia Papers, ua0450

 Publisher: New Mexico State University Library

 Rights: Copyright NMSU Board of Regents

 Source: ua04500241, mounted photographic print

 Subject: Hot peppers; Hot pepper industry

 Title: Men bagging chili peppers

 Type: Still Image