Luxembourg - 1-2 December 1997
Workshop Report - Executive summary
On 1 and 2 December 1997, a workshop organised by the European Commission
DGXIII/E4 took place in Luxembourg, on the subject of metadata.
The workshop consisted of a Tutorial led by the UK Office for Library and
Information Networking (UKOLN), presentations of current projects in
Scandinavia and the UK, and three breakout sessions on Metadata creation,
Harvesting, and Retrieval.
Around 60 participants from organisations all around Europe attended the
workshop, indicating a wide interest in the subject.
The workshop participants recognised that metadata standards are necessary, in
addition to sector- or subject-specific description mechanisms, to ensure
interoperability in resource discovery on the Internet.
The workshop concentrated on the emerging and currently the best-developed
metadata format known as Dublin Core. It is however recognised that it
concentrates fully on resource discovery and does not cover other requirements,
e.g. for resource management or access restrictions.
The workshop, although recognising the usefulness of Dublin Core as a starting
point in metadata descriptive standards, brought forward a number of concerns
regarding the current state and the further development of Dublin Core:
There is currently no formal responsibility for the maintenance of Dublin Core:
development takes place in an informal group of invited experts which meets
once or twice per year in what is known as the Dublin Core Workshop Series.
The current technical state of Dublin Core is unstable: during the meetings of
the Dublin Core group, changes are being made to the format and there is no
convergence to a stable version;
The use of the current Dublin Core metadata format is not supported by the
existence of guidelines: some of the philosophy and terminology of Dublin Core
is not obvious to the uninitiated user which could lead to different
interpretations adversely affecting interoperability.
It was also identified that the current take-up of Dublin Core is slow and that there
is a lack of critical mass. This seems to be a classical chicken-and-egg situation:
authors and publishers do not invest in providing Dublin Core metadata if the
Internet indexing services (the 'harvesters') do not utilise it, and harvesters do not
collect Dublin Core and use it for selective indexing if there is not enough data
available. If this situation cannot be changed, Dublin Core might not turn into
The workshop identified a number of actions that could be taken to promote and
encourage the use of Dublin Core, including the following:
There needs to be clarity about version control and maintenance of Dublin Core.
The Dublin Core group, addressed through the mailing list META2, will be
asked to give a clear statement about this.
Further pilot projects should be started to further develop experience, test out
the issues and help realise a critical mass of Dublin Core metadata. The
European Commission and national bodies like National Libraries might have a
role to play by encouraging the provision of Dublin Core metadata in
documents, e.g. in project deliverables and electronic documents in the national
The interest and requirements existing in Europe warrant the establishment of a
European group of implementers discussing the practical issues of implementing
metadata in general and Dublin Core in particular. The Luxembourg workshops,
such as this December 1997 one and a second one scheduled for mid-1998,
could develop into a regular series.
The liaison with other groups concerned with metadata, such as the CEN/ISSS
working group on Metadata for Multimedia Information (MMI), should be
established to ensure applicability and interoperability of metadata as widely as
possible and cover the needs of a wide range of communities.
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