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Metadata Guidelines

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Using Guidelines for describing resources is essential in providing optimal retrieval and discovery services for a repository. The purpose of the Metadata Guidelines is to provide guidance to best practices for the submission of metadata to the Heritage Repository. It is envisaged that a Community of Practice for Metadata would refine and expand on these guidelines. The Heritage Repository is empowered by DSpace and therefore DSpace refinements for the Dublin Core element set have been adopted for the repository.

These guidelines are based on the work of the Dublin Core Metadata Initiative (DCMI) and DSpace and include very useful resources listed throughout the guidelines. The information in the Description column includes the definitions given by DCMI or DSpace consortia for the elements and their refinements.

Obligation to supply metadata: The metadata elements and refinements are grouped according to the obligation for the description of the content of an item. Four obligation categories are identified:

  • Mandatory - Title and date.issued are required by the system.
  • Mandatory, if applicable - Content for metadata elements is required to ensure the item is retrievable. The elements title, subject, contritutor.author and date.issued allow browsing by index.
  • Optional - Non-compulsory metadata that may be required to optimse the retrieval of an item and the enhancement of the description of the item.
  • System Generated - Content for thismetadata element is generated automatically by DSpace.
Metadata Elements
Metadata Elements
Metadata Elements
Mandatory title (Required by System)
date.issued (Required by System)
if applicable
Optional contributor (.advisor; .editor;
.illustrator; .other)
subject (.lcsh; .classification; .ddc; .mesh)
description (.sponsorship; .tableofcontents; .statementofresponsibility)
format (.extent; .medium)
identifier (.govdoc; .isbn; .ismn; .issn; .other)
coverage (.spatial; .temporal)
System Generated format.mimetype   date.accessioned


  • Breytenbach, A & Groenewald R. 2006.University of Pretoria Metadata Workshop Manual. http://www.dspace.up.ac.za/metadata_workshop.pdf
  • CDP Metadata Working Group. 2006. Dublin Core Metadata Best Practices Version 2.1.1. http://econtent.unm.edu/cdm4/DC_Best_Practices.pdf
  • DSpace. http://www.dspace.org/
  • Dublin Core Metadata initiative. 1995-2011. Dublin Core Metadata Element Set, Version 1.1. http://dublincore.org/documents/dces
  • Dublin Core Metadata Initiative. 1995-2011 Using Dublin Core: The Elements. http://dublincore.org/documents/usageguide/elements.shtml
  • Indiana Memory Project. 2007. Dublin Core Metadata Guide. http://www.in.gov/library/files/dig_metast.pdf
  • Liebetrau, P. 2010. Metadata. In: Managing digital collections: a collaborative initiative on the South African framework. Pretoria: National Research Foundation.p.30-34.
  • National Information Standards Organization 1997. Guidelines for abstracts. http://www.mariapinto.es/ciberabstracts/Articulos/Z39-14.pdf
  • National Information Standards Organization. 2007. Metadata. In: A framework of guidance for building good digital collections. 3rd ed. http://framework.niso.org/node/24
  • National Information Standards Organization. 2004. Understanding metadata. http://www.niso.org/publications/press/UnderstandingMetadata.pdf
  • NPS Focus Digital Library and Research Station. 2007. NPS Focus metadata manual. http://npsfocus.nps.gov/docs/guide/metadata/index.html
  • Research and Innovative Technology Administration. Metadata element set for the NTL. http://ntl.bts.gov/dublincore/ntl_dc_desc.html
  • State Library of Queensland. 2010. Picture Queensland cataloguing images: guidelines for contributors. Version 1.0. http://pictureqld.slq.qld.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0010/166708/Cataloguing_images_-_Guidelines_for_contributors.pdf
  • University of Minnesota Digital Conservancy. Metadata guidelines. http://conservancy.umn.edu/bp-metadata.jsp
  • University of Pretoria. Department of Library Services. 2008. Guidelines to the Dublin Core Metadata fields using DSpace. http://www.dspace.up.ac.za/metadata.pdf
  • Western States Digital Standards Group. Metadata Working Group. 2005. Western States Dublin Core Metadata best practices. Version 2.0 http://www.thslc.org/encompass/documents/WSDCMBP.pdf