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  1. Introduction
  2. Metadata Types
  3. Metadata Principles
  4. IVRLA Implementation
  5. Existing Metadata from Source Repositories
  6. Models, Schemas & Standards used
  7. METS
  8. MODS
  9. Controlled Vocabularies
  10. EAD
  11. MIX
  12. Resources & Initiatives
  13. Conclusion
  14. Reference

1. Introduction

  • “The management and re-presentation of digital objects is simply not feasible without adequate naming and metadata.”
  • (National Library of Australia, 2005)

The concept of metadata is relevant to a range of spheres that deal with the storage and retrieval of information, both technically and theoretically. 

Jersey White 1 Elite College Blue Giles Devils Harry Basketball The National Information Standards Organization defines metadata as:

  • "structured information that describes, explains, locates, or otherwise makes it easier to retrieve, use, or manage any other resource.”
  • (NISO, 2004)

Metadata is thus commonly referred to as “information about information” and definitions of it invariably refer to its functions.

The specific uses of metadata are summarised in four points by the Digital Curation Centre in the UK (Day, 2005):

  1. Resource discovery and retrieval
  2. The management of resources
  3. The management of archival records
  4. Facilitating data sharing and reuse

Metadata is thus a core aspect in the development of any digital repository, its principles and practical implementation.  The benefits for both end-users and administrators of the digital repository are clear from the uses of it outlined above.

The effective storage, identification and control of digital objects, depends on the creation and appending of useful information about the objects at different stages of the process.  The development of the IVRLA digital repository includes research into the best-practices, standards, new initiatives and technologies relating to metadata. 

Various models, schemas and systems have been and will be implemented after an examination of their suitability for the project’s requirements.

2. Metadata Types

The term metadata is frequently separated into three types, depending on the specific function of the information.

Various metadata models or schemas exist to enable the creation of metadata and they are often classified according to their type, although they can sometimes fall into two or more categories, since they perform several functions.

In addition, the term ‘preservation’ metadata is sometimes used to encompass aspects of all three types of metadata in the context of digital objects and their long-term preservation.

Descriptive Metadata
The function of descriptive metadata is to identify, locate and describe digital objects. In terms of the technical aspect of the digital repository, descriptive metadata allows the system to search and retrieve digital objects, by means of unique identifiers. In terms of the end-user, it enables them to discover a particular resource by means of physical and bibliographic descriptions.

Structural Metadata
The function of structural metadata is to identify the relationship between separate digital objects (for example, a collection of letters) and between different sections/files of each individual object (for example, the different pages within one letter).

Administrative Metadata
The function of administrative metadata is to support the management and manipulation of digital objects on a short and long-term basis.  Rights and access control, the storage and movement of files and preservation strategies are assisted with technical metadata associated with these activities.

3. Metadata Principles

In order to effectively achieve the functions outlined above, there are certain standards generally recommended in the selection and implementation of metadata models or schemas.

NISO defines six principles, which also reflect the reasons why constructive metadata is a significant element of any digital repository:

  1. Good metadata should be appropriate to the materials in the collection, users of the collection, and intended, current, and likely future use of the digital object.
  2. Good metadata supports interoperability.
  3. Good metadata uses authority control and content standards such as controlled vocabularies that are in line with user expectations to describe the content of objects and collocate related objects.
  4. Good metadata includes a clear statement on the conditions and terms of use for the digital object.
  5. Good metadata supports the long-term management of objects in collections.
  6. Good metadata records are objects themselves and therefore should have the qualities of good objects, including authority, authenticity, archivability, persistence, and unique identification.

(NISO, 2004)

Following these principles throughout the development of the IVRLA digital repository, will help the overall objectives of the project to be realised.

4. IVRLA Implementation

  • “The decision of which metadata standard(s) to adopt, what levels of description to apply, and so on must be made within the context of the organisation’s purpose for digitising the collection, the users and intended usage, approaches adopted within the community, and the desired level of access.”
  • (NISO, 2004)

The IVRLA digital repository will contain a large collection of complex digital objects, for both preservation and access purposes. It will contain multiple types of data from a range of source repositories. It will offer advanced user search functions and tools across all the collections. Legal rights and particular access conditions need to be applied. The repository must be sustainable for future technological developments and use. And lastly, metadata must be easily transferred or converted to assist sharing and identification.

Therefore, at each stage of the IVRLA development process, the choice of which metadata standard and model to adopt is made after consideration of these specific aims.

5. Existing Metadata from Source Repositories

Most of the collections that the IVRLA project is digitising have already been catalogued, listed or otherwise described in some way.

However, because of the varying types of material in the collections and the different criteria and requirements of their source repositories, the existing metadata is as diverse as the collections themselves.

The IVRLA project is faced with the challenge of maximising the disparate and varying levels of descriptive information available for the different collections and to integrate it into uniform metadata records.

The existing metadata for material the IVRLA is digitising in each source repository is listed below:

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All the collections here are described in archival finding-aids.  These are descriptive lists compiled by an archivist, also giving the scope, biographical and historical information and access details of the collection. 

The finding-aids have varying levels of description depending on the size and content of the collection, and the level of detail required by the archive at the time of accession.  In some cases, individual items are described, in others, the description stops at the file level. 

Most of the finding-aids are available electronically, although one or two are paper-based only.

UCD James Joyce Library Special Collections
Some of the printed material in this repository has a basic MARC cataloguing record.  These records are held in the Library’s main on-line catalogue system (TALIS). 

The records usually contain data in some or all of the following fields: author, title, publication date, pagination, notes.  In some cases, the records contain one or two Library of Congress Subject Headings.

Other collections are listed and described in finding-aids, similar to archival ones.  Some are available electronically, others are currently paper-based.

Jersey White 1 Elite College Blue Giles Devils Harry Basketball One or two of the collections which may be digitised by the project are new acquisitions and have not yet been listed.

National Folklore Collection
The main collections in this repository are referenced in an extensive card-index, organised by subject, place, collector and contributor. 

Subjects originate from a specialised subject-list (Seán Ó Súilleabháin's ‘Handbook of Irish Folklore’).

Other collections are referenced in computerised indices.

Irish Dialect Archive
The IVRLA project is creating electronic versions of a selection of hand-written cards containing research on Irish language lexicology.  The cards are arranged alphabetically by word.

Other manuscript resources here are listed in guides to the collections.

6. Models, schemas & standards used

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In general, the IVRLA digital repository will support the metadata format and harvesting protocol developed by the Open Archives Initiative ( – the Open Archival Information System.  In doing so, the project will increase interoperability for current and future use.

Jersey White 1 Elite College Blue Giles Devils Harry Basketball The following models and schemas are being implemented in the development of the IVRLA digital repository.  Others may be utilised in future as the need arises and as the project develops.

Individual sections of this workbook  give more detailed information on the research and implementation of each one.

7. Metadata Encoding & Transmission Standard (METS)


Developed and maintained by the Library of Congress' Network Development and MARC Standards Office.  This is the model which will be used to ‘package together’ all the metadata components of the digital objects in the repository, within the OAIS framework.

For more information, see the METS section of the workbook.29 Fleury Marc-andre Fashion Stitched Jersey Grey Drift Home Golden Authentic Knights Hockey

8. Metadata Object Description Schema (MODS)


Developed and maintained by the Library of Congress' Network Development and MARC Standards Office.  This is the XML schema used by the IVRLA to create cataloguing records for each digital object. It is the schema behind the IVRLA cataloguing database and is the main source of descriptive metadata for the repository.  MODS also contains elements of other preservation and technical metadata.

The project initially experimented with another schema for creating metadata for its digital objects.  This is an element set developed by the Dublin Core Metadata Initiative (  However, it was found not to provide as rich a description level as MODS, especially given the variety of resources encompassed by the project. 

For more information, see the MODS section of the workbook.

9. Controlled Vocabularies

Currently, the authorities below are used within MODS to provide further levels of standardised metadata.  Others may be implemented in future as the project expands in scope and content.

10. Encoded Archival Description (EAD)


Developed and maintained by the Library of Congress' Network Development and MARC Standards Office.  The project plans to implement this XML schema to markup existing archival finding-aids in order to incorporate them into the search functions of the repository and/or to provide the main descriptive metadata of lengthy collections.

For more information, see the EAD section of the workbook.Los Men's Dodgers Royal Stripe Polo Dri-fit Angeles

11. NISO Metadata for Images in XML Schema (MIX)


Developed and maintained by the Library of Congress' Network Development and MARC Standards Office, in partnership with the NISO Technical Metadata for Digital Still Images Standards Committee.  This XML schema will be used to encode technical metadata relating to the digital images in the repository.

For more information, see the MIX section of the workbook.

12. Resources & Initiatives

As more and more digital archive/library projects are instigated, there is a growing body of research and shared experience on the subject of metadata. 

A report by the National Library of Australia to the IFLA-CDNL Alliance for Bibliographic Standards (ICABS) on the topic of guidance for digital preservation, included a report specifically on the availability of sources on the naming, describing and controlling of digital resources.

The report states that “the management and re-presentation of digital objects is simply not feasible without adequate naming and metadata” and identifies some core issues on the subject.

The report then lists and discusses the quality and quantity of resources giving guidance in these areas.  In general, the report finds that:

  •  “This is one of the best served areas for guidance, reflecting concerted international and local efforts to develop agreed standards and methods. Because needs vary, it is unlikely that a single standard will emerge in either file naming or preservation metadata, but there does seem to be a growing consensus on the objectives of persistent identification and use of metadata that will enable ongoing management of access over time. Metadata approaches to long-term management seem to be well understood and widely discussed in most sectors including libraries and records archives […].”
  • (National Library of Australia, 2005)

One area which the report found lacking in guidance was the area of the management of metadata resources themselves.

The main organisations, initiative and projects which have issued guidelines or standards on metadata relevant to the IVRLA are listed below:

Cornell University Library, Department of Preservation & Collection Maintenance -

Digital Curation Centre (DCC) - (Consists of: the University of Edinburgh, University of Glasgow, UKOLN at the University of Bath, and the Council for the Central Laboratory of the Research Councils).

Digital Library Federation -

International Standards Organisation -

Joint Information Systems Committee -

National Information Standards Organization (NISO) -

Open Archives Initiative -

Personal Archives Accessible in Digital Media (Paradigm) -

PREMIS (PREservation Metadata: Implementation Strategies) Working Group -

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The above list represents resources covering many aspects of metadata in general, which are consulted by the IVRLA project at different stages. 

Other resources covering specific metadata models, schemas or systems implemented by the project are documented individually.  These resources usually include on-line discussion lists which are monitored and contributed to as necessary in the course of the IVRLA project’s development.

13. Conclusion

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  • “Effective management of all but the crudest forms of digital preservation is likely to be facilitated by the creation, maintenance, and evolution of detailed metadata in support of the preservation process.”
  • (OCLC/RLG, 2001)

Jersey White 1 Elite College Blue Giles Devils Harry Basketball Quality, usability and interoperability are the subjects of much of the literature on metadata for digital repositories.  These issues have instigated many of the initiatives in the field. 

An examination of these initiatives shows that most of the research conducted on metadata has originated in the UK and the US.  The IVRLA project hopes to contribute to Irish based research in the field of digital libraries and archives, by making available its findings in the process of developing the first comprehensive digital primary source repositories in Ireland.

14. References

Day, M. (2005), "Metadata", DCC Digital Curation Manual, S.Ross, M.Day (eds), Retrieved 25.09.06 from:
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National Information Standards Organization – NISO (2004), Understanding metadata. Bethesda, Md.: NISO Press. Retrieved 25.09.06 from:

National Library of Australia, (2005)Stitched Kenyan Red College Crimson Jersey Tide National Drake 2016 Championship 17, Report to ICABS on guidance for digital preservation. Report on a survey of sources.  Retrieved 25.09.06 from:

OCLC/RLG Working Group on Preservation Metadata, (2001), Preservation Metadata for Digital Objects: A Review of the state of the Art.  Retrieved 29.09.06 from:

Content Models