ALCTS logo Committee on Cataloging: Description and Access
Task Force on Metadata and the Cataloging Rules

Dublin Core and the Cataloging Rules

Analysis Project

[ Background ] | [ Invitation ] | [ Analysis Procedures ] | [ Examples and Comments ] [ Draft Final Report ]


The Dublin Core is a proposed minimal set of data elements for describing network-accessible materials. It was initially proposed at a workshop held in March 1995 at Dublin, Ohio. Workshop participants included librarians and archivists, researchers, computer and information scientists, software developers, publishers, and members of Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) working groups. Their intent was to suggest a minimal set of data elements that might be provided by the creators or publishers of digital objects and included in, or linked to, the objects themselves.

Metadata included with digital materials has significant potential as a source of information about those materials. Such metadata can be used as the basis for designing an information storage and retrieval system. Alternative, the metadata can be imported into existing data structures (such as USMARC bibliographic records) and used by existing information storage and retrieval systems.

The specific interest of the Committee on Cataloging: Description and Access is in the use of metadata as a source of information for standard descriptive cataloging records that conform to the Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules. As various metadata standards have been emerging in recent years, the Committee began to take a formal interest. The first result of that interest was a position paper by Sherry Kelley and Brad Eden, which looked at one particularly relevant metadata standard, the specifications for a file header for electronic texts encoded according to the Text Encoding Initiative.

Following a recommendation in the position paper, the Committee appointed a Task Force on the Relationship of the TEI Header and the Cataloging Rules. Quickly realizing that the TEI Header was but one metadata scheme among many, the Committee expanded the Task Force's charge to include other metadata schemes. The Task Force has been re-named Task Force on Metadata and the Cataloging Rules.

Part of the Task Force's charge is to investigate "the proposed Dublin Metadata Core Element Set and evaluat[e] its use as a source of information for cataloging." This Web page is intended to serve as the focus for that investigation and evaluation. It will consist of:

  1. a handy compilation of links to relevant documents, such as the "official" list of Dublin Core data elements;
  2. a procedure for analyzing the Dublin Core data elements;
  3. a collection of examples and comments.
Caveat: This exercise is based on certain assumptions that might appear questionable. It is not at all clear that USMARC records are an appropriate carrier for metadata or that there is any point in transforming metadata into standard cataloging records. These questions deserve serious discussion. But not here. Please. This site is dedicated to exploring (in a tentative, what-if, fashion) the issues surrounding the use of Dublin Core metadata in AACR2 cataloging records. Comments on wider issues should be sent to the AUTOCAT, INTERCAT or USMARC discussion lists.

An Invitation

The best way to investigate and evaluate the usefulness of Dublin Core metadata as a source of cataloging information is to work through some examples. The process that will be followed is outlined below. Briefly, it involves selecting an HTML document, filling in a template with the appropriate metadata, then putting that same data into a USMARC record workform, and commenting on the results.

The Task Force welcomes any comments on the examples and on our comments. Or you can contribute your own examples. There will be "e-mail" icons scattered throughout the site; if your browser is set up to send mail, you can do so by clicking on one of these icons. Or you can send your comments to me at the address below:

Metadata Analysis Procedure

Step 1. Obtain a copy of the Dublin Core data element definitions.

Step 2. Select a digital object to describe.

Step 3. Fill in the appropriate Dublin Core metadata elements.

Step 4. Map the metadata to the appropriate USMARC data elements and create a preliminary USMARC record.

Step 5. Evaluate the record and answer some questions about it.

Step 6. Send in the results.

Examples and Comments

Example 1: John Locke Bibliography

Example 2: Cornell University Library Technical Services Manual

Example 3: New York State Citizens' Coalition for Children home page

Example 4: "Maintaining commitment when a child can't live at home"

Example 5: Picture of the attendees at the recent conference on Metadata in Australia

Example 6: List of Publications of the Bureau of American Ethnology

Example 7: "Samuel Finley Breese Morse"

Example 8: "Photograph of Samuel F. B. Morse"

Example 9: "Photograph of the first public telegram in the world"

Example 10: Electronic Journals Annotated List

Example 11: Cataloguer's Toolbox

Draft Final Report

The Task Force is planning to submit its final report to CC:DA in June 1998. A draft of the Dublin Core section of the report is available here. The full report will be assembled on the Task Force site.

Back to: Task Force home page