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Washington University Digital Gateway


Definitions based on Digital Library Glossary from the Indiana University Digital Library Program.


– A –


A metadata repository management framework.


The law that has made the circumvention of some technological barriers to copying intellectual property illegal.

ASCII(American Standard Code for Information Interchange)

A standard, seven-bit character code, including 96 displaying symbols (letters, digits, punctuation) and 32 control codes (line feed, new line, tab, etc.), by which information is stored and transmitted in a computer or a data transmission system.


The DLF Aquifer Project is an experiment in getting materials from many different digital libraries to work together in an integrated system.


Materials created or received by a person, family, or organization, public or private, in the conduct of their affairs and preserved because of the enduring value contained in the information they contain or as evidence of the functions and responsibilities of their creator, especially those materials maintained using the principles of provenance, original order, and collective control; permanent records.

Archive Copy

A copy of a work intended to be preserved permanently.

Archivist's Toolkit

A system for creating and managing EAD files.

– B –


A representation in which each item is represented by one bit; a graphic display in which characters are formed by assigning to each individual pixel a bit value.

– C –


A property right that protects the interests of authors or other creators of works in tangible media (or the individual or organization to whom copyright has been assigned) by giving them the ability to control the reproduction, publication, adaptation, exhibition, or performance of their works.

CSS(Cascading Style Sheet)

A stylesheet language used to describe and govern the presentation of a document written in a markup language, most commonly HTML.

CCO (Cataloguing Cultural Objects)

An image metadata standard.


Apache Cocoon is a web development framework built around the concepts of separation of concerns and component-based web development.


A metadata repository management framework.

CQL (Common Query Language)

CQL is the query language for SRU (Search / Retrieve via URL) / SRW (Search / Retrieve Web Service).

– D –


A structured collection of data held in computer storage; esp. one that incorporates software to make it accessible in a variety of ways.

Derivative Work

A work based upon one or more preexisting works, such as translation, musical arrangement, dramatization, fictionalization, motion picture version, sound recording, art reproduction, abridgment, condensation, or any other form in which a work may be recast, transformed, or adapted.

DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act)

The United States copyright law that criminalizes production and dissemination of technology that can circumvent measures taken to protect copyright, not merely infringement of copyright itself, and heightens the penalties for copyright infringement on the Internet.


The process of transforming analog material into binary electronic (digital) form, especially for storage and use in a computer.

DLXS (Digital Library eXtension Service)

A metadata repository management framework. See XPAT.


A metadata repository management framework.

DPI (Dots Per Inch) >

A measure of printing resolution, in particular the number of individual dots of ink a printer or toner can produce within a linear one-inch space.


A metadata repository management framework.

DTD (Document Type Definition)

A set of rules that specify the structure of a document and the tags used to define that structure and that can be used to validate whether a document is well formed.

Dublin Core

A least-common-denominator metadata standard, capable of describing a wide variety of objects. The Dublin Core Metadata Initiative is an open forum engaged in the development of interoperable online metadata standards that support a broad range of purposes and business models.

DVD (Digital Versatile Disc)

An optical disc storage media format that can be used for storing data, including movies with high video and sound quality. DVDs resemble compact discs; their physical dimensions are the same--12cm or the mini 8cm--but they are encoded in a different format and at a much higher density.

– E –

EAD (Encoded Archival Description)

A metadata standard for encoding finding aids in XML.


To reproduce the action of or behave like a different type of computer with the aid of hardware or software designed to cause this; to run a program, etc., written for another type of computer by this means.


A metadata repository management framework developed for open access academic journals.

Exclusive Rights

The copyright law granting solely the copyright owner the ability to reproduce, distribute, perform, broadcast, or display their works publicly, and to authorize another to do so.

– F –

Fair Use

A provision in copyright law that allows the limited use of copyright materials without permission of the copyright holder for noncommercial teaching, research, scholarship or news reporting purposes.

FGDC (Federal Geographic Data Committee)

A committee and collection of subcommittees that promote the coordinated development, use, sharing and dissemination of geographic data.


A metadata repository management framework (Flexible Extensible Digital Object and Repository Architecture).

File Sharing

The practice of making files available for other users to download over the internet and smaller networks.

Finding Aid

A tool that facilitates discovery of information within a collection of records. It also provides a description of those records that gives the repository physical and intellectual controls over the materials and that assists users to gain access to and understand the materials.

First Sale Doctrine

The limit on a copyright owner's interests beyond the initial sale of a particular copy of a protected work.


Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records

– G –

GIS (Geographic Information Systems)

A combination of hardware, software, and rules that supports complex analysis of geospatial and temporal information and that often uses static or dynamic maps for reports. It also allows users to create interactive queries (user created searches), analyze the spatial information, and edit data.

GIF (Graphic Interchange Format)

A proprietary standard for digital representations of images.


A lightweight metadata repository management framework.

GUI (Graphical User Interface)

A user interface (often pronounced "gooey") for interacting with a computer which employs graphical images and widgets in addition to text to represent the information and actions available to the user. Usually the actions are performed through direct manipulation of the graphical elements.

– H –

HTML (Hyper Text Markup Language)

A predominant markup language for the creation of web pages. It provides means to describe the structure of text-based information in a document--by denoting certain text as headings, paragraphs, lists and so on--and to supplement that text with interactive forms, embedded images, and other objects.

– I –


Integrated Development Environment

Institutional Repository

Software and associated rules used to capture, structure, provide access to, and preserve digital materials produced by an organization or community.


The ability of different systems to use and exchange information through a shared format.

– J –


A popular computer programming language.


Software that "provides functions to perform format-specific identification, validation, and characterization of digital objects."

JHOVE/Harvard Object Validation Environment

A joint project of JSTOR and the Harvard University Library that provides functions to perform format-specific identification, validation, and characterization of digital objects.


A standard (ISO/IEC 10918) that specifies a digital graphic file format that can reproduce a large color space and that can compress the data to minimize the file size.


A wavelet-based image compression standard based upon the original Jpeg designed by the Joint Photographic Experts Group.


The Jakarta Standard TagLibs Project by Apache.

– K –

– L –


Lots Of Copies Keep Stuff Safe. A digital preservation project headed by Stanford, primarily focused on electronic journals.


An open-source index and search framework by Apache, originally written by one of the founders of the Excite search engine.

Luna Insight

A metadata repository management framework (used at Washington University) that provides access to image collecions with several search modes.

– M –

MARC (Machine Readable Cataloging)

A data communications format that specifies a data structure for bibliographic description, authority, classification, community information, and holdings data.

Master Copy

The digital copy from which other copies may be derived.


A comprehensive media asset management software application that accommodates the needs of collections from the specialist to large national collections. These collections may comprise any or all categories of material including audiovisual analogue and digital material, objects, equipment, memorabilia and paper documentation.


A set of data that describes and gives information about other data.

Metadata Harvesting

The harvest (harvest meaning the process by which software can collect metadata packages from remote locations that describe information resources available at those locations) of existing metadata records from resource repositories, such as through OAI (Open Archives Initiative), to gather metadata for query results or index creation.

METS (Metadata Encoding & Transmission Standard)

A metadata standard that can contain other forms of meatadata.


A tool for delivery of images.


To transfer data, programs, etc. from one environment to another.

MODS (Metadata Object Description Schema)

A metadata standard. The Library of Congress' Network Development and MARC Standards Office, with interested experts, has developed a schema for a bibliographic element set that may be used for a variety of purposes, and particularly for library applications.


Any of several evolving international standards and file formats for the compression and encoding of digital video and audio sequences, originally developed by the Moving Picture Experts Group.


A multithreaded, multi-user, SQL Database Management System (DBMS) with more than six million installations.

– N –


A system of interconnected computers.

MIX (NISO Metadata for Images in XML)

A metadata standard for images.

– O –

OAI (Open Archives Initiative)

An organization that has developed interoperability standards to facilitate the efficient dissemination of online content.


The Reference Model for an Open Archival Information System (OAIS) is a very loose standard. Rather than describing metadata formats, protocols, etc., it simply lays out a framework for the features that should be in an archival system.

OCA (Open Content Alliance)

A consortium of non-profit and for-profit groups dedicated to building a free archive of digital text and multimedia that was conceived in 2005 by Yahoo and the Internet Archive.

OPAC (Online Public Access Catalog)

A computerized database that allows patrons to search descriptions of materials in a repository's holdings.


A URL standard that is focused on resolving object descriptions (usually bibliographic citations). The resolver should take the user's context into account. A database can export an OpenURL link for an item not available in the database, and a resolver can search the other databases available at the user's location to see if the item is available online, requestable through ILL, etc.

– P –


A work that imitates another work in order to ridicule, ironically comment on, or poke affectionate fun at the work itself, the subject of the work, the author or fictional voice of the parody, or another subject.

PDF (Portable Document Format)

A file format developed by Adobe Systems that can be used to distribute formatted output, including text and graphics, from a variety of applications to users working on a variety of platforms.


A very powerful and common programming language.

PHP (Hypertext Preprocessor)

An open source reflective programming language, originally designed as a high level scripting language for producing dynamic web pages and used mainly in server-side application software.


Each of the minute areas of uniform illumination of which the image on a television, computer screen, etc. is composed; each of the minute individual elements in a digital image.

PNG (Portable Network Graphics)

A bitmap image format that employs lossless data compression and was created to both improve upon and replace the GIF format with an image file format that does not require a patent license to use.

PREMIS (PREservation Metadata Implementation Strategies)

An initiative to develop a set of core elements for preservation metadata for the purpose of long-term preservation of digital objects.


The professional discipline of protecting materials by minimizing chemical and physical deterioration and damage to minimize the loss of information and to extend the life of cultural property.

Proprietary Software

Software that has restrictions on using and copying it, usually inforced by a proprietor.

Public Domain

Creative works such as writing, art, music and inventions to which no person or other legal entity can establish or maintain proprietary interests within a particular legal jurisdiction.


Persistant URL.

– Q –

– R –

Raster Graphic

An image formed from a grid of pixels that is typically generated by scanning rows sequentially from top to bottom.

RDF Resource Description Framework

It is a general-purpose XML language for describing objects, their properties, and their relationships. It is being used as the basis for the "Semantic Web".


Any type of organization that holds, stores and maintains documents, including business, institutional, and government archives, manuscript collections, libraries, museums, and historical societies, and in any form, including manuscripts, photographs, moving image and sound materials, and their electronic equivalents.


A measure of the sharpness and detail in an image or optical system.

– S –

SGML (Standard Generalized Markup Language)

An international standard (ISO 8879) metalanguage used to define sets of tags to identify the relationship between document content and structure for use by information processing applications.

SQL (Standard Query Language)

The most popular computer language used to create, modify, retrieve, and manipulate data from relational Database Management Systems.

– T –

TEI Text Encoding Initiative.

A complex method for marking up textual documents.

TIFF (Tagged Image File Format)

A standard (ISO 12234-2) for storing a raster graphic and metadata that describes image content and characteristics.


An open-source Servlet container from Apache.


An RDF Database. All "triples" in a TripleStore have the form: subject, predicate/property, object/value. For example: (DLS, "type", "organization"), (DLS, "size", 30), (DLS, "name", "Digital Library Services"), etc.

– U –

Unique Identifier

A code used to identify objects that are unique within a given context. Where the context is unlimited, they are called globally unique.


A term that usually refers to the elegance and clarity with which the interaction with a computer program or a website is designed.


Universal Resource Locator

UTF-8 (8-bit Unicode Transformation Format)

A variable-length character encoding for Unicode that is able to represent any universal character in the Unicode standard.

– V –


A collection of open source tools designed to integrate into Fedora.

VRA Core (Visual Resources Association)

An image metadata standard. The VRA Core Categories, Version 3.0 consist of a single element set that can be applied as many times as necessary to create records to describe works of visual culture as well as the images that document them.

VTLS (Visionary Technology in Library Solutions)

The company that manufactures VTLS Valet.

– W –

– X –

XACML (eXtensible Access Control Markup Language)

Used by Fedora and Variations2.

XHTML (Extensible Hypertext Markup Language)

A revision of the Hypertext Markup Language standard HTML 4.0 that conforms with the Extensible Markup Language standard XML 1.0.

XML (eXtensible Markup Language)

XTF (eXtensible Text Framework)

Essentially a wrapper around Lucene that provides some functionality for handling XML and standard digital library formats.

XSL (eXtensible Stylesheet Language)

XML language for transforming XML files.


The XML/SGML text indexer at the center of DLXS.

– Y –

– Z –

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