Metadata: Workshop in Luxembourg

Michael Day and Andy Stone report on the Third Metadata Workshop in Luxembourg.

The Metadata Workshop held in Luxembourg on the 12 April was the third in an ongoing series of such meetings. The first Metadata Workshop was held in December 1997 and included a tutorial on metadata provided by UKOLN, some project presentations and break-out sessions on various metadata issues [1, 2]. The second workshop, held in June 1998, concentrated more on technical and strategic issues [3]. Around 50 people attended the third workshop, mostly drawn from organisations involved in European Union funded projects supplemented by a few Commission staff.

Following a brief welcome from Axel Szauer (Deputy Head of DGXIII/E2), Makx Dekkers (PricewaterhouseCoopers) gave an overview of the two previous workshops and highlighted important events that had occurred since the second one. He noted that the DC-6 workshop held at the Library of Congress in November 1998 had resulted in the establishment of an explicit governance structure for the Dublin Core metadata initiative [4]. He also pointed to the development of a metadata model and framework by the CEN/ISSS Workshop on Metadata for Multimedia Information, ongoing standardisation developments relating to Dublin Core within ISO, NISO and CEN, and the involvement of rights holders in current Dublin Core discussions [5, 6].

Luxembourg, April 1999

Luxembourg, April 1999

Metadata models, digital identifiers and legal deposit

The first presentation was by Godfrey Rust (Data Definitions) who outlined his views on metadata issues from the perspective of rights owners and with extensive reference to ongoing work being carried out for the Info2000 INDECS project [7]. Rust introduced an INDECS metadata model that has a focus on describing 'events' rather than just 'objects' [8]. After noting the current growth and diversity of metadata standards and initiatives, Rust also noted that 1999 would prove to be a crucial year for the development of metadata standards. He felt that convergence between initiatives (and the avoidance of unnecessary duplication) was possible, but that this opportunity would not be available if there was any delay.

The second session, which was on digital identifiers, concentrated on the two most well known initiatives. Norman Paskin (International DOI Foundation) gave a presentation on the Digital Object Identifier (DOI) that first explained that the DOI was a combination of a unique identifier and a resolution system [9]. Paskin saw no reason why in time the DOI should not become a standard identifier for any type of e-commerce activity. Juha Hakala (Helsinki University Library) reported on the current status of the Uniform Resource Name (URN) initiative of the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF). He noted that the IETF standardisation process was almost complete. In the final paper of the morning session, Leif Andresen (Danish National Library Authority) described the INDOREG (Internet Document Registration) project that aimed to investigate and assist the bibliographic control of Danish Internet documents [10]. The project recommended the use of Dublin Core as a self-registration project and had provided tools - a DC creator and a PURL server - to facilitate this. From January 1998, Danish publishers have had a legal obligation to register 'static' electronic publications by the use of an electronic application form.

XML/RDF applications

After lunch, there were two presentations on metadata implementations using the Extensible Markup Language (XML) based Resource Description Framework (RDF) being developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). Dan Brickley (Institute for Learning and Research Technology, University of Bristol) started off with a paper describing the main features of RDF and giving insights into its interaction with related initiatives like Dublin Core and PICS. Brickley noted that the RDF Model and Syntax Specification has been since February 1999 a W3C Recommendation while the RDF Schema specification is, as of March 1999, a W3C Proposed Recommendation [11, 12]. This was followed by a description of an application of RDF in the Göttingen Digitisation Centre (GDZ) by Winfried Mühl (SUB Göttingen) where XML/RDF is being used to describe paper documents that have been digitised as collections of images [13].

Metadata for digital preservation

The final session of the day concerned metadata for digital preservation. Michael Day (UKOLN) introduced the subject of preservation metadata with a presentation based on work carried out for the Cedars (CURL Exemplars in Digital Archives) project [14, 15]. He noted the growing recognition that metadata can have important roles in the ongoing management and preservation of digital resources. He argued that metadata could be useful for recording the technological context of a resource's origins, for recording (and managing) rights management information, for preserving the authenticity and reliability of resources as well as for resource discovery. He followed this with a brief introduction to the reference model for an Open Archival Information System (OAIS) being developed by the Consultative Committee for Space Data Systems as part of an ISO initiative [16].

Titia van der Werf (KB) followed this with a presentation on the EU-funded NEDLIB (Networked European Deposit Library) project. She first gave a brief overview of the project, which aims to construct some of the basic infrastructure upon which a networked European deposit library could be built [17]. The project is focussed on the activities of national libraries and the project partners include eight European deposit libraries and the National Archives of the Netherlands. The NEDLIB project has already published some functional requirements for a Deposit System for Electronic Publications (DSEP) [18, 19] and van der Werf explained that a DSEP would require metadata for a variety of purposes: for cataloguing, for resource installation and de-installation, for access and for preservation. This preservation metadata would support management activities like checking the integrity of files, and help manage tasks like media refreshing and reformatting and long-term preservation strategies like format migration and emulation.

In December 1998 at a meeting in Paris, the NEDLIB project made a decision to adopt the OAIS reference model as a basis for the design of a DSEP. They have since begun to map their initial functional metadata categories to OAIS concepts. NEDLIB has also begun to address issues relating to the strong links between metadata requirements and preservation strategies. If a migration-based strategy is followed, the metadata will constantly change (and grow) over time and will need to be available to users so that they can make judgements about a resource's context and provenance. With an emulator-based strategy, on the other hand, the metadata would be of a different - more stable - nature and would not need to be made available to users. NEDLIB will be developing a test-bed using material from three academic publishers (Elsevier Science, Kluwer Academic and Springer-Verlag) to test emulation-based strategies.


1. EC Metadata Workshop, Luxembourg - 1-2 December 1997: <URL:>

2. Metadata Workshop, Luxembourg - 1-2 December 1997: <URL:>

3. Report of the Metadata Workshop held in Luxembourg, 26 June 1998: <URL:>

4. Stu Weibel, The State of the Dublin Core Metadata Initiative, April 1999. D-Lib Magazine, Vol. 5, no. 4, April 1999. <URL:>

5. CEN/ISSS Metadata for Multimedia Information Workshop: <URL:>

6. David Bearman, Eric Miller, Godfrey Rust, Jennifer Trant and Stuart Weibel, A Common Model to Support Interoperable Metadata: Progress report on reconciling metadata requirements from the Dublin Core and INDECS/DOI Communities. D-Lib Magazine, Vol. 5, no. 1, January 1999. <URL:>

7. INDECS project: <URL:>

8. Godfrey Rust and Mark Bide. The <indecs> metadata model. Indecs project, April 1999. <URL:> (in PDF)

9. International DOI Foundation: <URL:>

10. Poul Bergstrøm Hansen and Jytte Hansen, INDOREG: INternet DOcument REGistration: project report. <URL:>

11. Ora Lassila and Ralph R. Swick, eds., Resource Description Framework (RDF) Model and Syntax Specification. W3C Recommendation, 22 February 1999. <URL:>

12. Dan Brickley and R.V. Guha, eds., Resource Description Framework (RDF) Schema Specification. W3C Proposed Recommendation, 03 March 1999. <URL:>

13. Göttingen Digitalisierungs-Zentrum (GDZ): <URL:>

14. Cedars project: <URL:>

15. Kelly Russell, CEDARS: long-term access and usability of digital resources. Ariadne, no. 18, December 1998. <URL:>

16. Lou Reich and Dan Sawyer, (eds.), Reference Model for an Open Archival Information System (OAIS). Consultative Committee for Space Data Systems, White Book, Issue 5 (CCSDS 650.0-W-5.0). Washington, D.C.: CCSDS Secretariat, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, April 1999. <URL:>

17. NEDLIB project: <URL:>

18. José Borbinha and Fernando Cardoso. Functional specification for DSEP. NEDLIB project deliverable D1.2.1, 15 October 1998. <URL:>

19. José Borbinha. High Level Design. NEDLIB project deliverable D1.2.2, 28 September 1998. <URL:>

For the official report of the workshop, see:

Third Metadata Workshop, Luxembourg, 12 April 1999: <URL:>


Cedars is a Consortium of University Research Libraries (CURL) Project funded by the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) of the UK higher education funding councils through its Electronic Libraries Programme (eLib).

UKOLN is funded by the Library and Information Commission, the JISC, as well as by project funding from the JISC and the European Union. UKOLN also receives support from the University of Bath, where it is based.

Author details

Michael Day
Research Officer
UKOLN: the UK Office for Library and Information Networking
University of Bath
Bath BA2 7AY, UK
Andy Stone
Cedars Project Officer
Oxford University Computing Service
13 Banbury Road
Oxford OX2 6NN, UK
Date published: 
Tuesday, 22 June 1999
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