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3. Metadata types and functions

3.1 NISO's definitions

There are three main types of metadata:

Descriptive metadata describes a resource for purposes such as discovery and identification. It can include elements such as title, abstract, author, and keywords.

Structural metadata indicates how compound objects are put together, for example, how pages are ordered to form chapters.

Administrative metadata provides information to help manage a resource, such as when and how it was created, file type and other technical information, and who can access it. There are several subsets of administrative data; two that are sometimes listed as separate metadata types are:

Rights management metadata, which deals with intellectual property rights,
Preservation metadata, which contains information needed to archive and preserve a resource.

NISO. (2004) Understanding Metadata.
Bethesda, MD: NISO Press, p.1

3.2 Metadata functions

NISO. (2004) Understanding Metadata.
Bethesda, MD: NISO Press, pp.1-2.

3.3 Getty's definitions on types of metadata

Type Definition Examples
Administrative Metadata used in managing and administering collections and information resources
  • Acquisition information
  • Rights and reproduction tracking
  • Documentation of legal access requirements
  • Location information
  • Selection criteria for digitization
Descriptive Metadata used to identify and describe collections and related information resources
  • Cataloging records
  • Finding aids
  • Differentiations between versions
  • Specialized indexes
  • Curatorial information
  • Hyperlinked relationships between resources
  • Annotations by creators and users
Preservation Metadata related to the preservation management of collections and information resources
  • Documentation of physical condition of resources
  • Documentation of actions taken to preserve physical and digital versions of resources, e.g., data refreshing and migration
  • Documentation of any changes occurring during digitization or preservation
Technical Metadata related to how a system functions or metadata behaves
  • Hardware and software documentation
  • Technical digitization information, e.g.,
  • formats, compression ratios, scaling routines
  • Tracking of system response times
  • Authentication and security data, e.g., en cryption keys, passwords
Use Metadata related to the level and type of use of collections and information resources
  • Circulation records
  • Physical and digital exhibition records
  • Use and user tracking
  • Content reuse and multiversioning information
  • Search logs
  • Rights metadata

Murtha Baca ed.(2008).
Introduction to Metadata Version 3.

Getty Information Institute. Table 2.

3.4 Dublin Core's elements outline

DUBLIN CORE Metadata Element Set (= "simple Dublin Core)
Website: http://dublincore.org/
DC Element set

Content Intellectual Property Instantiation
Coverage Contributor Date
Description Creator Format
Type Publisher Identifier
Relation Rights Language


Additional notes

Majority of the descriptive metadata are manually created (refer to Section 2) using various tools (refer to Section 5).

Technical metadata may be automatically captured by a software.

Use metadata can be learned.

Descriptive metadata can also be crawled through computer programing or APIs.

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