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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Metadata Services

Acquisitions & Cataloging Services

Types of Metadata

Metadata is designed to store information about the resources it is representing. This information facilitates access to these resources in a number of ways. Below are the three types of metadata and their utilities for access.

  • Descriptive - resource for discovery and identification, used for the indexing, discovery, and identification of the digital resources. (e.g., title, author, keyword)
  • Structured - information used to display and navigate a digital image, including how compound objects are put together (e.g., pages ordered to form chapters)
  • Administrative - information to help manage a resource (e.g., when and how resource was created, file type, other technical information, and who can access it)
    • Rights Management - intellectual property rights
    • Preservation - information needed to archive and preserve a resource

Understanding Metadata. NISO, 2004

A Myriad of Standards

In "Seeing Standards: A Visualization of the Metadata Universe", Jenn Riley illustrates the vast quantity of options available for choosing standards and creating metadata.

Metadata Standards

Metadata standards should be selected based on the resources of the digital collection. The following metadata standards are commonly used in library, museum, and archives domains. EAD (Encoded Archival Description) is used in the archival community, and VRA Core (Visual Resources Association Core Categories) and CDWA (Categories for the Description of Works of Art) are used for describing visual resources.

CDWA (Categories for the Description of Works of Art)

CDWA is used for describing and accessing information about works of art, architecture, other material culture, groups and collections of works, and related images. Generally, CDWA is used in the museum community with CCO (Cataloging Cultural Objects) as its content standard.


Dublin Core

Dublin Core is one of the most used metadata standards, due to its abillity to describe a wide variety of resources. There are two formats of Dublin Core, Simple and Qualified (Terms).


EAD (Encoded Archival Description)

The Encoded Archival Description (EAD) standard is used by digital libraries to create machine-readable finding aids. Please follow the links below for more information.


MARC (MAchine Readable Cataloging)

MARC is a metadata standard developed by the Library of Congress that is used to create library catalog records, allowing for access to library resources.


MODS (Metadata Object Description Schema)

MODS is developed by Library of Congress and derived from MARC, and is considered to be a good metadata standard for any type of resource because it has very rich semantics.


VRA Core (Visual Resources Association Core Categories)

VRA is a metadata standard for visual resources. It is often used with the CCO (Cataloging Cultural Objects) content standard. Please follow the links below for more detailed information.