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Metadata Resources

Standards based on type of project


Digital Library Services and the Metadata Subcommittee endorse the Text Encoding Initiative (TEI) guidelines for digital projects involving the representation of texts.  We recommend the following document, TEI Text Encoding in Libraries: Guidelines for Best Encoding Practices, to determine the level of encoding for a digital project.
For a textual representation that allows simple free-text searching and basic structural descriptions of a text, i.e. paragraphs and larger divisions such as chapters or sections, levels one and two are adequate.  For projects in which more structural and descriptive detail is desired level three allows lists, figures, tables, notes and typeface to be represented.  Level four encoding permits greater flexibility and specific elements for prose, drama, oral history, and verse.  Most projects created by Digital Library Services use level four.

Works of Art/Cultural Objects

For digital projects that focus on art and cultural objects, Digital Library Services and the Metadata Subcommittee endorse use of the Categories for the Description of Works of Art (CDWA). Where technical metadata regarding images is desired, we recommend that the NISO Metadata for Images in XML Schema (MIX) be used. This metadata can be gathered by running an application like JHOVE (JSTOR/Harvard Object Validation Environment).


For digital projects that use GIS (Global Information Systems), Digital Library Services and the Metadata Subcommittee recommend that metadata be recorded according to the Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC) Content Standard for Digital Geospatial Metadata (CSDGM). This is an internationally recognized standard used by all U.S. government agencies as well as many academic/non-profit institutions and private enterprises.

Finding Aids

Digital Library Services and the Metadata Subcommittee endorse the use of Encoded Archival Description (EAD) version 2002 for describing finding aids for archives and special collections. EAD is a standard created by the Library of Congress specifically for the digital delivery of finding aids.

Controlled Vocabulary

Digital Library Services and the Metadata Subcommittee recommend that projects use standardized lists to increase access and retrieval of digital collections.  These are a few widely used standards; however, more standards may be available for a specific subject area.  If a standard is used, it is important to acknowledge which standard was implemented in the metadata.

Further readings on metadata

Introduction to Metadata: Pathways to Digital Information
Metadata Demystified
Striking a Balance: Metadata Creation in Digital Library Projects

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