Raising Awareness

"A centre of excellence in digital information management, providing advice and services to the library, information and cultural heritage communities."

UKOLN is based at the University of Bath.

Licence For Reuse Of This Document

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

MLA logo

An Introduction To Dublin Core

About This Document

This briefing document provides an introduction to Dublin Core metadata

What Is Dublin Core Metadata?

Identifying metadata elements in a standard way enables metadata to be processed in a consistent manner by computer software.

The Dublin Core Metadata Element Set is a standard for cross-domain information resource description. It is widely used to describe digital materials such as video, sound, image, text and composite media such as Web pages. It is the best known metadata standard in the Web environment.

Based on the Resource Description Framework, it defines a number of 'elements' of data that are required to find, identify, describe and access a particular resource.

Dublin Core metadata is typically recorded using Extensible Markup Language (XML).

Dublin Core is defined by ISO Standard 15836 and NISO Standard Z39.85-2007.

Simple Dublin Core

There are 15 core elements in the Dublin Core standard:

Title, Creator, Subject, Description, Contributor, Date, Type, Format, Identifier, Source, Language, Relation, Coverage and Rights.

Qualified Dublin Core

The core element set was deliberately kept to a minimum, but this sometimes proved a problem for early implementers. This led to the development of Qualified Dublin Core, which has a further 3 elements (Audience, Provenance and RightsHolder) and a set of element qualifiers, which restrict or narrow the meaning of an element.

For example, qualified Date elements are DateAccepted, DateCopyrighted and DateSubmitted.

Metadata Standards

Because so many communities now use metadata, there are a bewilderingly large number of standards and formats in existence or in development. Metadata is used for resource description and discovery; recording intellectual property rights and access data; and technical information relating to the creation, use and preservation of digital resources.

What Does It Look Like?

Dublin Core metadata is typically recorded in XML using <meta> tags. Each element has a label; this is recorded between <...> brackets and precedes the actual data, while another set of brackets and a forward slash <...> marks the end of the data.

Some examples are:

<Creator> Ann Chapman </Creator>
<Title> An Introduction to Dublin Core </Title>
<DateSubmitted>  20080417 </DateSubmitted>
<DateAccepted>  20080611 </DateAccepted>
<Relation> Cultural Heritage Briefing Papers series </Relation>
<Subject> Metadata </Subject>
<Format> Word document Office 2003 </Format>
<Language> English </Language>


Application Profiles

Implementers then found that even Qualified Dublin Core had insufficient detail for use in specific communities. This lack led to the development of Application Profiles which contain further elements and element qualifiers appropriate to the community of interest.

Library Application Profile. Used to describe resources by libraries and library related applications and projects.
Collections Application Profile. Used to describe resources at collection level.
Scholarly Works Application Profile. Used to describe research papers, scholarly texts, data objects and other resources created and used within scholarly communications.
Education Application Profile. Used to describe the educational aspects of any resource, and/or the educational context within which is has been or may be used. It is intended to be usable with other application profiles.
Bookmark and Share