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Metadata are (structured) data describing a resource, an entity, an object, or other data. They are used to retrieve, use, and maintain a resource, an entity, etc. Depending on the community, the term metadata has different connotations. In the context of information science and libraries, it refers to data which are used to describe electronic resources. However, the trend is moving towards using the term metadata for data and catalogues in databases to describe non-electronic resources as well.

The German National Library has followed and actively participated in developments in the field of metadata from the beginning. In the project META-LIB (1998 - 2002), the aim was to develop guidelines for the application of metadata - especially of the Dublin Core Set - for the indexing of digital and digitised resources in scientific libraries. As part of the project, the German National Library developed and tested conventions for indexing of electronic resources with Dublin Core metadata, also taking into account authority data. After the end of the project in 2002, the German National Library integrated the work on metadata into the Office for Library Standards.

The German National Library became a KIM Project partner in October 2006. The aim of the project was to set up a competence centre for interoperable metadata (KIM - Kompetenzzentrum Interoperable Metadaten), intended to help improve knowledge about and skills in interoperable metadata, metadata exchange and formats within the German-speaking countries.

National and international co-operation

On a national level, the German National Library actively takes part in the co-operation of the regional legal deposit libraries in collecting, cataloguing, and archiving of online publications, and in the development of the German science portal Vascoda. By developing new standards such as XMetaDiss and LMER, the German National Library brings its competence in the field of metadata into the general development of applications. Together with archives and museums, solutions are developed to merge different metadata standards. The integration of metadata applications into the development of cataloguing rules is one of the next tasks. The German National Library will be providing input to the development work aimed at making the new RDA (Resource Description and Access) cataloguing standard semantic web-compliant by contributing its considerable experience and expertise in the field of rule sets and metadata.

Through its co-operation in national and international standardisation committees such as DIN, CEN, ISO and the Dublin Core Metadata Initiative (DCMI), the ONIX International Steering Committee and the METS Editorial Board, the German National Library actively participates in the development of international metadata standards. Numerous proposals have been brought into the IFLA Working Group on Metadata. The German National Library also plays a leading role in standardisation work and development of The European Library, the portal of the European national libraries.

Last update: 11.05.2017

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