What is metadata?

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Metadata has been a business term closely associated with cataloging archived information dating back to 1876, starting with the creation of the standard proprietary library classification system, the Dewey Decimal System.  Remember the old 3×5 card catalog system in your school or community library? Those 3×5 cards contained the book title, author, subject and a short synopsis, and an alphanumeric identification number that provided readers with the section and shelf in the library where the physical book was located. The information displayed on those 3×5 cards is the metadata for the library’s assets. Over the last 135-years, the Dewey Decimal System has been embraced for metadata standards in over 200,000 libraries, in 135 countries, for the proper classification, aggregation, identification and location of specific books and sundries, all over the world. Today, metadata is not only a common term for library assets management, but it’s a term we hear in almost every industry as businesses expand their presence and assets into the virtual marketplace. Specifically, metadata refers to “data about the data”, as well as “data about the containers of data”, also known as the structural metadata.

Most often metadata is an information set that includes:

  1. means of creation of the data
  2. purpose of the data
  3. author of the data
  4. date and time of data creation
  5. placement of the data on a computer network
  6. the standards used or followed

Join me during the next several weeks, as I cover specific industry examples of metadata, metadata tagging, and the differences between document and image metadata, indexing and cataloging to optimize your asset archival and retrieval.  Ways in which organizations are using enhanced metadata to increase sales.  Please respond here, or contact me directly if you would like me to highlight examples and benefits to your specific industry.

“Books constitute capital. A library book lasts as long as a house: for hundreds of years. It is not, then, an article of mere consumption but fairly of capital, and often in the case of professional men, setting out in life, it is their only capital.” – Thomas Jefferson, (1743-1826), 3rd President of the United States.

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