ALCTS - Association of Library Collections & Technical Services


June 3, 1998

Final Report

Please note that the purpose of this document is to facilitate the work of the Committee and to provide a means for outreach to both library and non-library cataloging communities. This document is intended for the exclusive use of CC:DA and its cataloging constituencies, and is presented for discussion in the ongoing process of rule revision. Under no circumstances should the information here be copied or re-transmitted without prior consultation with the current Chair of CC:DA.

Table of Contents

Executive Summary

Metadata and Cataloging
The TEI Header and the Cataloging Rules
Dublin Core Metadata and the Cataloging Rules
Encoded Archival Description: Summary Report

Appendix: Cataloging Problems with Web Sites

Executive Summary

The Task Force on Metadata and the Cataloging Rules was charged to evaluate metadata as a source of cataloging, recommend rule additions and changes if appropriate, investigate CC:DA collaboration with developers of metadata sets on implementation and development of standards, and investigate CC:DA collaboration with MARBI in the development of reversible mapping between AACR2 data elements as encoded in MARC and other metadata schemes.


The following conclusions were drawn by the Task Force based primarily on evaluation of two metadata standards, the TEI header as utilized by the Electronic Text Center at the University of Virginia and the Dublin Core metadata element set. The conclusions specifically address the use of metadata, and records derived from metadata, in library catalogs based on content standards such as the Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules and Library of Congress Subject Headings.

  1. Metadata will be used most effectively in systems designed specifically to support its use, not in library catalogs.

  2. Most metadata standards are not attempting to provide information sufficient to distinguish a resource from similar resources or versions of the same resource. The guidelines for data content in most metadata standards do not mandate transcription of data from prescribed sources of information.

  3. Authority control over metadata content is usually optional, not required. The Dublin Core, for example, supports specification of authoritative source for elements such as Creator and Subject, but does not require that content come from an authoritative source. When metadata lacks authority control, either that control should be applied before the metadata records are added to the library catalog, or the records should be stored in a separate database in which consistency of content is not expected.

  4. Metadata makers have focused on mapping to rules for transfer syntaxes like MARC and not to rules for semantics or content like AACR.

  5. Metadata from a non-AACR-conformant source will always require cataloger scrutiny when being integrated into a library catalog.

  6. Metadata element sets like the Dublin Core must be supported by institutions serving as responsible custodians or authorities for data registration and maintenance.


The Task Force recommends that CC:DA

  1. Refer to the Task Force on the Harmonization of the ISBD(ER) and AACR2 the following suggestion for changing rules in Chapter 9 of AACR2:
    • Add metadata to the list of “other formally presented internal evidence” in rule 9.0B1 (Chief source of information)
    • Add examples of metadata as a source of information in rules 9.7B3 (Source of title proper), 9.7B4 (Variations in title) and 9.7B7 (Edition and history)
    • Consider adding instructions to record standard identifiers for electronic resources (PURLs, URNs, etc.) in rule 9.8 (Standard number and terms of availability area)

  2. Continue to pursue meaningful collaboration with developers of metadata.

  3. Work with MARBI through the new Joint Task Force on Metadata to monitor metadata developments for their potential impact on library catalogs and cataloging, and to engage with metadata developers in collaborations that stretch beyond the traditional library catalog.

  4. Continue to monitor metadata developments and, as appropriate, to appoint further task forces to analyze additional metadata element sets as to their compatibility with AACR2.


The Task Force was charged to evaluate metadata as a source of cataloging, recommend rule additions and changes if appropriate, investigate CC:DA collaboration with developers of metadata sets on implementation and development of standards, and investigate CC:DA collaboration with MARBI in the development of reversible mapping between AACR2 data elements as encoded in MARC and other metadata schemes.

CC:DA and the cataloging community acknowledge the growing number of metadata element sets and the need for guidance on how libraries should deal with these. Metadata records are a type of catalog record. They are created using a set of data element labels such as “Title” or “Author”, which have definitions, permissible content values by means of sets of attributes, and rules for application. These are not library catalog records, however, since the labels, definitions, content values and rules do not comply with AACR2 or MARC. Nor were they intended to be library catalog records, although some metadata standards were developed in consultation with the cataloging community and meant to conform in some degree to AACR2. Can these metadata records nevertheless function as library catalog records? Can metadata be used to achieve two strategic goals for libraries: provide access to important electronic resources (and be available, transparently or otherwise, in the same place as the rest of the library’s holdings) and achieve efficiencies in cataloging?

To answer these questions, the Task Force evaluated two metadata element sets: the TEI header and Dublin Core. Both have been widely implemented. Each represents a very different conceptual data model: Dublin Core is a simple model as exemplified by its early goal to limit definitions and guidelines to one page, the TEI header is a complex one. The Task Force feels that the conclusions and recommendations drawn from our evaluation of the two schemes are not necessarily applicable to other metadata sets; this will have to be investigated for each scheme. We have included brief information about one other scheme in our report, and provided additional references in the bibliography.

The methodology for evaluation began with the task of deconstructing each record type to better understand the element set and its rules for creation. Initially, the Task Force hoped to proceed by reviewing projects already in place that used one of the two schemes. In fact, we looked at one project utilizing TEI headers, the University of Virginia’s Electronic Text Center project, and created our own project for the Dublin Core Metadata Element Set. The latter project was initiated when we found that there were no suitable library-based Dublin Core projects at the time that we were doing our research.

We expected to use the following criteria for evaluation:

  1. Fullness of records
  2. Adherence to AACR2 through examination of assigned elements and the object itself, data dictionaries, and rules for application
  3. Validity of mapping from native metadata to USMARC/AACR2
  4. Ability to support common user tasks as identified in an IFLA Working Group draft, Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records.

The reports on the TEI header and Dublin Core address criteria 2 through 4. We quickly discovered, however, that evaluation of the fullness of records for TEI headers and Dublin Core element sets as measured against the PCC core record requirements for computer files would not provide meaningful results. The Dublin Core metadata element set has no mandatory elements. The TEI header has only three mandatory elements. It might be possible to make meaningful assessments of records in individual projects with well-defined guidelines for provision of a set of core data elements, but these would not generalize beyond those specific projects.

One additional outcome Task Force members hoped to gain from this study was a better understanding of the roles catalogers might have in the metadata community as mediators, creators, and consultants.

The work of this Task Force marks the beginning of a continuing process. It began with the charge to investigate the TEI header and its implications for cataloging. Its charge was expanded to look at metadata in general. In order to fulfill its change in a timely manner, the Task Force chose to work primarily on the TEI header and the Dublin Core metadata element set. Clearly, there are many other metadata element sets in existence or being developed. Some of those that seemed most relevant to this Task Force are listed in the bibliography of this report. It is our hope that the analysis model employed in this report can be applied to these sets as needed.

The Task Force likewise concentrated its efforts on the use of metadata information in the context of bibliographic records created according to the provisions of AACR2. This is understandable, given the change of our parent committee. However, there are many other issues that could be addressed.

Catalogers need to be involved with emerging metadata standards. Our bibliographic and cataloging expertise is invariably useful and often welcome in defining data elements and preparing usage guidelines. This does not require formal institutionalization by a CC:DA Task Force, and this Task Force hopes that our report will encourage our colleagues to become involved.

There is also a need to collaborate with other maintenance agencies — particularly with the Library of Congress’s Network Development and MARC Standards Office. The “interoperability” (a fancy word for the ability of systems using different metadata sets to understand each other) of metadata-driven systems is greatly enhanced by the use of the highly-detailed language of the USMARC Formats as a translation medium. The Network Development Office has already prepared “crosswalks” or “mappings” between several of the metadata sets. These mappings are not always completely reversible, given the different level of detail supported by the various element sets, but many sets can be mapped into MARC, and MARC data can be mapped to many metadata sets. This effort needs to be continued, maintained, and expanded.

Supporting this effort is one of the tasks that might be undertaken by a new Joint Task Force on Metadata which will include members from both CC:DA and MARBI. This Joint Task Force will have a charge that will go beyond some of the limitations of the present Task Force. It will address how library cataloging data and other kinds of metadata can come together in an expanded information retrieval system.

CC:DA, whether through the new joint Task Force or through other mechanisms, needs to continue to monitor metadata developments. Metadata and its use will have an increasing impact on the library catalog, on information seekers’ ability to find, identify, select, and obtain information — and perhaps on the very nature of bibliographic control.

Task Force on Metadata and the Cataloging Rules:

Sherry Kelley, Chair
John Attig, consultant
Matthew Beacom
Sherman Clarke, consultant
Brad Eden
Michael Fox
Edward Gaynor, consultant
Lynne Howarth
Ann Sandberg-Fox, consultant
Cecilia Sercan
Jackie Shieh, consultant

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