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Chapter 4. Metadata Schemas

Chapter Outline

  • Metadata 

  • Dublin Core

  • Other Metadata Standards for Resource Description 



Key Takeaways

This chapter offers an overview of the concept of metadata and different library, archives, and museum-related metadata schemas.

Metadata and cataloging

When examining the definitions of cataloging data and metadata. one can see that these terms can mean the same thing - structured descriptions of information or data. It is mostly the content and format that differentiate the two terms. Cataloging is used for the resource description process in libraries, archives, and museums, and the resulting data can be stored in physical objects (card catalogs, books, etc.) or electronically. The term metadata, on the other hand, is most often describing encoded data that describes information-bearing resources. Metadata is not limited to the information field. 

General and domain-specific

Different communities have developed metadata schemas to meet their resource description and access needs. Schemas can be simple (e.g., few elements, no rules, designed to be used with any encoding system) or very complex (multiple levels of elements and subtypes, general or very detailed guidelines, associated with a particular encoding system, etc.). Metadata schemas are also designed for general applicability, meant to be able to describe any type of information resource (e.g., Dublin Core), or domain-specific, designed to meet the description and access needs of a particular domain, discipline, or type of resource (i.e., Visual Resources Association (VRA) Core)

Multiple metadata schemas

An institution can use multiple metadata schemas for the description of different sets of information resources. For example, a library can use cataloging records (RDA guidelines encoded in MARC) for its main collection, Dublin Core for its digital collection, and EAD for its archival finding aids. 

Use the above link to access the exercise.

Metadata Standards 

Metadata Schemas

A select list of general metadata standards most relevant to the library environment

Metadata Registries and Crosswalks

For a more comprehensive list of metadata standards, including specialized schemas, check:

Chapter References/Notes

  1. Riley, J., & National Information Standards Organization (U.S.). (2017). Understanding metadata: What is metadata, and what is it for?: A primer. Bethesda, MD: NISO Press. Retrieved from 

  2. Association for Library Collections & Technical Services, Committee on Cataloging: Description & Access, Task Force on Metadata. (2000, June 16). Final report (CC:DA/TF/Metadata/5). Retrieved from

  3. Intner, S. S., Lazinger, S. S., & Weihs, J. (2006). Metadata and its impact on libraries. Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited. 

  4. Caplan, P. (2003). Metadata fundamentals for all librarians. Chicago, IL: American Library Association. 

  5. Joudrey, D. N., Taylor, A. G., & Wisser, K. M. (2017). The organization of information (4th ed.). Englewood, CO: Libraries Unlimited.

  6. Zeng, M. L., & Qin, J. (2022). Metadata (3rd ed.). New York, NY: Neal-Schuman Publishers.

  7. Dublin Core. (n.d.). DCMI History. Retrieved from

  8. Dublin Core. (2020, January 20). DCMI metadata terms, Section 1: Introduction and definitions. Retrieved from

  9. National Information Standards Organization. (2013). The Dublin core metadata element set. Retrieved from

  10. Hillmann, D. (2005, November 7). Using Dublin core. Retrieved from

  11. Dublin Core Metadata Initiative. (2005, November 7). Using Dublin core - Dublin core qualifiers. Retrieved from

  12. DCMI Usage Board. (2020, January 20). DCMI metadata terms. Retrieved from

  13. Dublin Core. (n.d.). Dumb-down principle. Retrieved from

  14. Dublin Core. (2019). Reflections on the DCMI abstract model (2011). Retrieved from _abstract _model

  15. Library of Congress. (n.d.). MODS: Metadata object description schema. Retrieved from

  16. Text Encoding Initiative. (2022, April 19). Example: <teiHeader> (TEI Header). Retrieved from

  17. Library of Congress. (2002a, December). Development of the encoded archival description DTD. Retrieved from

  18. Library of Congress. (2002b). Encoded archival description: Version 2002. Retrieved from

  19. Library of Congress. (2002c). Encoded archival description tag library, Version 2002. Appendix C: Encoded examples. Retrieved from

  20. Technical Subcommittee for Encoded Archival Standards of the Society of American Archivists. (2019). Encoded archival description tag library version EAD3 1.1.1. Retrieved from 

  21. Visual Resources Association Data Standards Committee. (2007, April 5). VRA core 4.0 element description and tagging examples. Retrieved from

  22. Visual Resources Association Data Standards Committee. (2007). VRA core cataloging examples. Retrieved from .html

  23. Editeur. (2009). ONIX for books, Release 3.0. Retrieved from

  24. Network Development and MARC Standards Office, Library of Congress. (2005, May 3). ONIX to MARC 21 mapping. Retrieved from

  25. Godby, C. J. (2012). A crosswalk from ONIX version 3.0 for books to MARC 21. Dublin, OH: OCLC Research. Retrieved from

  26. Editeur. (2009). ONIX for books: Product information format specification, release 3.0. Retrieved from 

Additional Readings

Here, you will find readings specific to the contents of this chapter.

You may find more readings about similar topics on the Cataloging and Classification Web Resources page

  • Caplan, P. 2003. Metadata Fundamentals for All Librarians. Chicago: American Library Association.

  • Chou, C. (2019). "Purpose-driven assessment of cataloging and metadata services: Transforming broken Links into linked data." Cataloging & Classification Quarterly, 57(2-3), 135-165, DOI: 10.1080/01639374.2019.1571553

  • Haynes, D. (2018). Metadata for Information Management and Retrieval: Understanding Metadata and its Use. Facet Publishing

  • Riley, J. (2017, January 1). Understanding metadata: What is metadata, and what is it for?: A primer. NISO. Retrieved from

  • Sweetser, M. and Orchard, A.A.A. (2019). "Are we coming together? The archival descriptive landscape and the roles of archivist and cataloger."American Archivist, 82(2), 332-380. Retrieved from

  • Zeng, M. L., And Qin, Jian. (2022). Metadata. 3rd edition. ALA Publishing.

Dublin Core

Resource Description Framework (RDF)
  • ​Parker, B. and Gray, A. (2019). "Rethinking the University of Maryland authority file for the linked data environment." Journal of Library Metadata, 19(1-2), 69-81, DOI: 10.1080/19386389.2019.1589699

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