Writing in the Sand Metadata for Digital Libraries

There is a variety of metadata currently in use by digital libraries in the United States. The acronyms and applications can be very confusing. The links from this page provide discussions of the primary metadata forms and their uses, with pointers to more information. In addition, there are many other related standards, notations, efforts and schemas currently in use or under development. Some are used extensively in related fields or libraries, some are used in limited areas or isolated contexts, and some are just starting to make their mark in digital libraries and their implementations. Limited information on a few of those, with links for the curious, are also provided. One never knows what will be a primary and requisite standard by next year.

The landscape of metadata in digital libraries is a constantly shifting one, as this is a relatively new area of development. It is an exciting and challenging field in which to work. Familiarity with both existing and emerging schemes is essential. Because the standards, schemas, versions, and preferred types of metadata are continually changing, all information contained herein can only be considered as a snapshot of the current scene at the time of writing (October, 2006). Hopefully this will provide at least a starting resource to assist in making sense of the growing world of digital libraries.

Primary digital library metadata standards currently include:


Other schemes, notations, efforts and standards:


An Atom feed is provided here for online digital collections that exemplify the use of some of the primary metadata schemes in use by digital libraries today. All collections listed are the responsibility of the Digital Library Center of the University of Tennessee Libraries.

Girl writing in the sand

This information is provided without guarantees as to validity or completeness, particularly in light of the fact that the world of metadata in digital libraries is a world of shifting sands, constantly changing.

Jody DeRidder, jo@utk.edu. Return to homepage