CC:DA/MARBI Joint Task Force on Metadata (METAMARDA)
Sunday, 27 June 1999, a.m.

The task force is planning a 2-day preconference on metadata for Annual 2000. Details of the plans are available on the task force website.

Four groups had been working on specific tasks since Midwinter.

Group 1 analyzed the resource description needs of libraries, particularly catalog principles and user tasks, providing a coherent environment for users, and the relation of cataloging data to its use.

Group 2 prepared a conceptual map of the resource description landscape showing access in the past, present, and future to various categories of materials. The map is at

Group 3 devised a definition of metadata and investigated interoperability of metadata schemes with cataloging rules and MARC formats. The definitions submitted are:

Metadata are structured, encoded data that describe characteristics of information-bearing entities to aid in the identification, discovery, assessment, and management of the described entites.

Interoperability is the ability of two or more systems or components to exchange information and use the exchanged information without special effort on either system.

A metadata scheme provides a formal structure designed to identify the knowledge structure of a given discipline and to link that structure to the information in the discipline through the creation of an information system that will assist the identification, discovery and use of information within that discipline.

Group 4 recommended ways in which libraries can incorporate the use of metadata schemes into current library methods. They determined that a prototype would be "virtually seamless access to information and relevant retrieval of information from a user's point of view." They also listed several possible prototypes, like BIBLINK, CORC, AHDS, Getty auction catalogs, Arthur, a.k.a., and FacesLA.

The group reports were followed by a description of XML (eXtensible Markup Language) and the Resource Description Framework (RDF) by Eric Miller and Diane Hillmann. The PowerPoint slides for Eric's presentation are available at Further information on XML is available at Further information on RDF is available at

Eric described XML as the ASCII of the future. It will help tags work together and allows for nesting and repeatability. It is actually a subset of SGML, based on an analysis of the use of SGML. XML is Unicode and is therefore case-sensitive. The extensibility is possible through modularity. According to Eric, libraries try to hide the difficulty of discovery and retrieval of information, presumably to make that seamless and easy front end for users.

The task force has extensive documentation on its website at