Metadata is an important pillar of digital information management. However the sheer number and complexity of metadata standards can be a obstacle in choosing a standard that is right for the purpose and the community for which it was intended. In South Africa, many standards are not considered due to the time, energy and resources required for implementation. This is a pity as the richer the metadata, the easier it is to apply software tools to manipulate and massage the data for discovery by search engines. Even worse is that I still encounter archivists and librarians in this country that do not see the relevance of using internationally standardised schemas to describe their resources at all!

Jenn Riley, a metadata Librarian from Indiana University has complied a wonderful resource for selecting and comparing standards. In the release recently she said:

A new resource,  Seeing Standards: A Visualization of the Metadata Universe, is intended to assist planners with the selection and implementation of metadata standards. Seeing Standards is in two parts: (1) a poster-size visualization plotting standards based on their applicability in a variety of contexts, and (2) a glossary of metadata standards in either poster or pamphlet form.


Each of the 105 standards listed is evaluated on its strength of application to defined categories in each of four axes: community, domain, function, and purpose. Standards more strongly allied with a category are displayed towards the center of each hemisphere, and those still applicable but less strongly allied are displayed along the edges. The strength of a standard in a given category is determined by a mixture of its adoption in that category, its design intent, and its overall appropriateness for use in that category.


The standards represented are among those most heavily used or publicized in the cultural heritage community, though certainly not all standards that might be relevant are included. A small set of the metadata standards plotted on the main visualization also appear as highlights above the graphic. These represent the most commonly known or discussed standards for cultural heritage metadata.

Take a look - it is really a very helpful resource.

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