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.


What is metadata?

Metadata can be defined literally as "data about data," but the term is normally understood to mean structured data about digital (and non-digital) resources that can be used to help support a wide range of operations. These might include, for example, resource description and discovery, the management of information resources (including rights management) and their long-term preservation. In the context of digital resources, there exists a wide variety of metadata formats. Viewed on a continuum of increasing complexity, these range from the basic records used by robot-based Internet search services, through relatively simple formats like the Dublin Core Metadata Element Set (DCMES) and the more detailed Text Encoding Initiative (TEI) header and MARC formats, to highly specific formats like the FGDC Content Standard for Digital Geospatial Metadata, the Encoded Archival Description (EAD) and the Data Documentation Initiative (DDI) Codebook

Michael Day's "Metadata in a nutshell" (2001).

Publications and Presentations

Projects and initiatives

We are participants in the following projects and initiatives which relate to metadata and resource description:

The following projects primarily concern research data management, but also involve some consideration of metadata topics:

Standards activities

Summaries of related UKOLN activity areas:

The main focus of the metadata activity at UKOLN is to review current approaches to resource description and to look at future options for metadata in the wider contexts of resource discovery and the sustainable management of content.

Selected Past Projects

UKOLN has also been involved in the following completed projects and initiatives:




Metadata Registries