Metadata Basics

Metadata Basics

thanks for tuning in to the basics
lecture by three objectives for the stock are to help you first make
connections between the retrieval tools that we’ve looked at so far in the
chorus and the metadata that supports the functions of those tools the second
objective is to help you understand the terms that will be useful for doing the
metadata schema summary assignment and also the organizing resources lab
assignment and my third objective is in addition to the terminology to help you
find a way of thinking in general about the organizing resources presentation
thinking in general about information object organization and the metadata
that that supports that type of organization so let’s get going alright
the first key concept that I want to review is a definition of metadata and
there are several excellent definitions out there my favorite is by Steven
Miller and he defines medidata as just in general a set of statements made
about information so it’s very succinct and all-purpose definition a second
definition that I liked by Martin Kurt who is a very well-known metadata
resources librarian and very prolific author and he defines metadata as
statements we make about resources to help us find identify use managed
evaluate and preserve them so definitely a more comprehensive definition at that brings in the the complete
lifecycle of a resource and the concepts of how meditative supports each of those
phases in the life cycle of a resource or an information object and then a
third definition that I’d like to reach you is one by Ang Lee and who is another
excellent metadata librarian and writer and she defines metadata as the sum
total of what one can say about any information object at any level of
aggregation so this is the definition is a little more sophisticated than the
first two but alludes to the idea that metadata can be used to describe all
different scales of a resources one pretty common example with the gloves
backwardation the most colorful atomic level would be an island in a collection
the second level up would be metadata describing the collection itself and
possibly the third level up with the metadata describing the institution that
hosts for loans that collection so that’s just one example of aggregation
there are many others and then here on the slide is a screenshot of a catch
phrase you kind of see floating around the web that I really like metadata is a
love note to the future and this this is just another way of thinking about the
usefulness of metadata as a documentation to all and as a powerful
way of preserving and also ensuring that resources and information persist across
time and so something a phrase I think that would be useful to kind of reflect
on as you go through this course end and into your other graduate work is
just the the the the power of metadata to to provide that kind of persistence
and ensure ensure future things already the second term that we’re going to look
at is meditating element and an element simply defined as a name or label for a
selected piece of data that describes a resource so pretty straightforward I
hope that this is starting to make a little more sense and possibly demystify
some of the terminology that that you’ve heard so far so in an element in a
database of contacts is often called a field and Instamatic terminology it’s
referred to as a property so any of these terms work they’re all synonymous
element field property they’re all interchangeable here on the right on the
slide is a screenshot the most current element list for the Dublin Core scheme
and the elements in its Alex are the original 15 elements that were part of
what’s known as simple Dublin Core and the other elements are ones that have
been added sense to expand the schema and make it a little more usable and
functional with digital resources and you can see here that in this list are
many of the common elements that that span multiple schemes such as title
creator subject date format that type of thing so this is just one example of the
elements that make out and metadata schema alright metadata
schemas are simply sets of metadata elements designed for a specific purpose
such as describing a particular type of information resource so this is in a
nutshell what is scheme is and and the definition or meaning of the the
elements themselves is known as the semantics of the scheme so you will hear
the term semantics tossed about and all that means is essentially what each what
the definition is for each element what it means and we saw this in class when
we looked at those examples of tables there had color common elements on the
left-hand column and then a short explanation on the right hand column of
what each element was and when those are compiled together into some sort of
formal product they’re called the data dictionary it’s a dictionary that helps
explain the meaning of each of each term so another I think really nice
definition of schema that comes from the Dublin Core metadata initiative that I
really like is a systematic orderly combination of elements a set of rules
for encoding information that supports a specific community of users and again I
like this definition because it calls out the idea of specific domains of
users and that is one of the key concepts of metadata that you’ll begin
to see is that there is no one size fits all metadata scheme metadata schemes are
developed and evolved in a very close symbiosis with the community of users
and the the resources in the collection and you will see this yourselves when
you develop your scheme for the presentation that you go through the
same process and the graphic on the slide is a really
nice visual of common metadata standards group to buy domains social science
Natural History earth science ecology etcetera so in a nutshell that is asking
when codified so when published formerly a metadata element sector scheme becomes
part of a standard a formal set of best practice guidelines that specify the
meaning of each field or element the semantics the data value that populates
each element and so that would be the encoding scheme for specific elements
not all elements taken encoding scheme but some do like date the allowed terms
for that value so a controlled vocabulary that is a predetermined list
of terms that you can pick from to populate that element with a value and
then how the data is formatted so the syntax the way it’s expressed or written
out so all these guidelines taken together along with the elements that
itself or the scheme are are white are known as a standard so element sets
eventually always evolved into a standard and so for our purposes the
terms schema schema is synonymous with standard we can use them interchangeably alrighty moving on to the metadata
statement so I think it’s helpful to think of the metadata statement as sort
of the basic or atomic unit of metadata and a statement simply put consists of a
property and a value properties as we know are synonymous with elements and
feels so any of those work and metadata statements together described resources
so this example here on the slide is a very is a very simple one using Dublin
Core but is merely illustrative of how it works you got the property is on the left side
W core creator title subject date etc and the values themselves on the right
and so these statements to get taken together the title is algebra the
subject of the resources mathematics the Creator is Caro that type of thing these
are the statements and you can see that in these values if if this were if some
of these properties were ones that would take some type of encoding scheme like
the date property the encoding would determine
how that date that day value was written out how it was expressed how was
formatted so in this case we see it’s the year month day format but was as you
know dates can be written in all sorts of ways so when when you hear the term
encoding that’s that’s what it means is that it’s a it’s a specification for how value would actually be encoded so a
computer can understand it in this case it would be the year month date format
same with controlled vocabularies for subject the Subject field is often one
that takes a controlled vocabulary so a predetermined list of topics that you
can pick from if it were left up to each individual creating metadata to come up with with subject terms than
records would vary widely in what those individuals decided so it’s best to use
controlled vocabularies to provide consistency across records and were
gonna look more vocabulary is in the next few weeks coming up alrighty so here’s an example of the
Amazon website and in this example we’re going to look at how metadata supports
the discovery of resources in this case overalls are the resource and the
elements our properties are the labels the labels in the user interface that
you can select from the various facets of the resource and so you can see how
in every day online navigation metadata is what makes faceted search possible
for us so the elements would be things like size brand and color and then the
values are the data itself so extra small oshkosh blue so this this is just
one example of how metadata is something we engage with and interact with in
everyday life all of the time it’s it’s it’s nothing
separate from our everyday use of information the second example is a
screenshot from the recent calls real estate website and again it is a good
example of how we can use faceted search to specify and filter resources to a set
of parameters that we need and the resources in this instance are the
property listings so you see the property listing on the screen and all the meditative that is used to
describe it and provide information to the user to support those user tasks
that we talked about in relationship to further and the end catalogs and
websites are the same way so supporting the the user’s ability to find resources
identify which ones meet their criteria possibly select and obtain those
resources or at least in this case what what would be the digital surrogate for
the resources so that the digital listing for the physical home already in
this final example is another example of looking at how data values can describe
resource and in this case it’s another physical resource this time it’s a cop
and in any sort of method of reverse engineering we can look at this example
and from the data values provided we can surmise what those properties must be
and so looking at and MOG we could see that there would be properties for
itemtype corner or something like that marble would probably be cuter item
material and when you’re would be jarred local location or located in an office
located on desk things like that so again you can just see how how metadata
properties and are used together make statements that just simply described
resources alright medidata categories are ross
sort of artificial but very loose grouping of metadata in which there is a
significant amount of overlap but but they’re kind of roughly group group this
way to describe the different types of metadata that support different
functions so descriptive metadata is the metadata dan is the most
well-established it’s what we’re almost familiar with and it’s what supports
usual tasks such as resource discovery resource identification acquisition
those types of things it typically includes elements such as title abstract
author keywords and we see examples of descriptive metadata all the time in
catalog records in finding aids in annotations online invitations to photos
or exhibits or any any type of resource books all that kind of stuff so
descriptive metadata is is the all-purpose workhorse metadata of the
online world administrative metadata is a second grouping and it is the metadata
that provides information to help users or institutions manage resources and
management would include such things as determining when and how a resource was
created its file type who has access to it and those type of things and
administrative is somewhat of a number I category and within it are three sort of
subcategories of metadata and he’s our preservation technical and writes
metadata preservation metadata relates to digital provenance so documenting
actions that have been performed on the object and who the source of the object
was where it came from who has custody of the object that technical metadata
relates to the technical characteristics of the object so things like color
composition file format file type including files lies oh you name it I
mean when you look at an image file that’s generated by digital camera you
can see a lot of technical metadata right away technical metadata can be pretty
extensive and the last Sept allegory of administrative metadata is rights
metadata and writes relates to information about who has access and use
of the object so again things like copyright licensing all that type of
stuff falls under rights metadata and each of these instances is its own
really fascinating field in and of itself and would all make excellent
topics for your term paper just an exploration of any one of these kind of
subcategories of metadata then finally structural metadata relates to
information about objects physical structure so that ties the components of
a complex or compound resource together and makes the whole usable one really
common example is paging for additional books when each page as an image and so
this type of structural metadata it indicates how compound objects are put
together and specifies either hierarchical or physical arrangements so
that could be something like which image is embedded in which page of the website
that type of thing or how pages are ordered to form chapters or how archival
materials are compiled in collection that type of thing and the role of
structure has really been growing ng in information communities as people
realize that the more highly structured and information object is then the more
that structure can be exploited for searching and manipulation and then
enter into relating with other information objects alright moving on to
interoperability in operability is another term that you’ll hear quite
frequently and in general in different contexts depending on the domain but in
the bibliographic metadata contacts it simply means the ability of two or more
information systems to exchange metadata with minimal loss of information then
within that art can have different levels of interoperability and the
second level down from can just general interoperability would be semantic
interoperability and as we discussed earlier symantec is another word for
meaning so semantic interoperability is the ability of systems to exchange data
with unambiguous shared meaning so the example here on the slide would simply
be the understanding of the meaning of the word plant the word plant can have
two different meanings and and sewing machine would need to know which meaning
was was the one associated with that word and so semantic interoperability
relates to those systems having a shared understanding and being able to then
exchange data that is that is correct in meaningful because of that shared
understanding so Billy is again something that we have a great need for
especially in the library world and I think it’s good you reflect on maybe
what some of those situations are reasons are for why we need it and that she would make a really
interesting term paper topic if anyone’s looking alright extensibility extensibility is one of the
characteristics that you need to look at in your metadata schema summary and its
sensibility refers to the scheme as ability to incorporate additional
metadata elements and qualifiers to meet the needs of a specific collection or
item so in other words the skin’s ability to extend its own functionality
and Dublin Core is a great example of an extensible schema you can create custom
properties to meet local needs of your collection and telling horror is popular
because it allows institutions to adapt the schema to their own particular needs
and requirements so in a nutshell extensibility means the scheme allows
for customization flexibility is at the other characteristic that you’ll be
looking for in your schema and flexibility relates to the scheme as
application to different situation and contacts so it’s related to
accessibility but it’s a little different and it’s probably best thought
of as a scheme that can be easily modified and it’s also probably best
discuss through the use of examples so three examples of flexibility would be
one when creators are allowed to decide how few or how many elements to use in a
description and again Dublin Core is very flexible and that it has no rules or prescription for
which elements or how many need to be used in a record you can use as you are
many as you’d like there’s there are no rules about it moms is a is a different bibliographic
schema and it does have specific rules for a required set of core elements that
must be present in each records so you can see that different schemas have
different flexibility in that regard a second example of flexibility would be
allowing the creator to decide what level of granularity that descriptions
could be created so in other words how much detail to put in each individual
record or description and again that is something that depends on the scheme
aight south and the rules and guidelines for using that scheme and then the final
example would be flexibility in the use of both controlled vocabulary and free
text fields so controlled vocabulary is often helpful as I mentioned when
populating the Subject field because if if allowed to create subjects ad hoc and
then then you different users are going to call the same thing different
different terms and that could get really confusing and creates a lot of
inconsistency across records in the same collection so in that case you really do
wanna set of predefined terms to pick from but in other fields like a
description field you really want some free text so that you can write a
description that is specific to that object so flexibility in using birth
control vocabulary and free text is really ideal on this team functions metadata has sort of two key
umbrella functions that encompasses these and those those larger functions
would be resource discovery within a particular context or system so for
instance a specific database like we looked at in class and then improved
resource findability outside of that context or systems so the same resource
searched for possibly on the web through a search engine and not a specific
curated database so those are his key functions but then within that are
several kind of job functions important functions that relate back to those
categories we talked about it descriptive administrative and
structural so discover resources that I just mentioned manage documents so
metadata that that lends itself to document management and records
management that’s huge and you can even seen document management reflected in
the metadata are you creating your own Microsoft Word documents and powerpoints
things like that control of intellectual property rights
so we talked about that that would be really related to rights metadata where
the licensing and copyright ownership of other resources documented in the
metadata metadata also see also enables the user to identify different versions
of a document obviously certify the authenticity of a resource so establish
its provenance its lineage where was sourced from whose own debt
its ownership history all of that type of thing metadata can be used to indicate the
status of a resource or a an object or a resource at a point in time so one
example of that would be in my job as instructional designer we often work with the development production of
online courses and we need a way to track the progress of that development
through the life cycle of a course and so we use metadata to do that to let us
now we’re in the production cycle that particular courses metadata can also be
used to mark content structure so we see this afternoon with tagging in Raleigh
Word documents through the styles feature but also in web pages through
HTML markup language so that is it as a way to mark the content and structure of
a particular resource there also metadata schemes that are specific to
that type of markup metadata is more and more commonly used to situate resources
Chi of spatially and we see this play out all the time with geolocation now
and API mashup objects that are all over the web and so you can use metadata to
situate almost anything in a specific location that way and then finally
metadata can be used kind of related to status but to describe entire processes
in in a workflow our project management settings so very useful way to
facilitate the movement or lifecycle of an object or or a project basis so
that’s it for an overview of the functions the typical functions that
metadata supports this last slide is just a list of the key concepts we went
over so look these over if any of these are not clear or still a little fuzzy or
you would like more clarification please feel free to post to the Q&A forum I
will be happy to elaborate further on any of these and that’s all thank you for listening
and I’ll see you all on line by

Daniel Ostrander

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