As I noted in my last blog entry, the best way to understand metadata is to consider what metadata does. There is a push to create digital resources of text, image, object, video, and audio information. The primary reason digital resources are created is to provide interested users the ability to access these resources. This is where metadata comes in. According to Murtha Boca in the Getty Introduction to Metadata, “digitization does not equal access.” The digital resources need to be “findable, understandable, and utilizable,” Boca says. Metadata, as stated by Steve J. Miller, “allows users to find, identify, select and obtain [digital] resources.”
The NISO guide, Understanding Metadata, explains the active role metadata plays:
- Metadata facilitates discovery of and access to relevant information.
Metadata organizes and identifies digital resources.
Metadata connects related resources for users.
Metadata supports archiving and preservation by tracking lineage of digital objects.
Metadata describes information for machine-readability, interface exchange, networking resources in cross-repository searching.
As information professionals, we need to have a thorough understanding of what metadata does in digital resource discovery. More and more resources are sought exclusively online, generating the need for digitization of physical information objects, and of course many resources are born digital and only exist in digital form. Metadata functions as the bridge between the seeker and the digital resource.