Skip to Main Content

Metadata: Home

Library resource for learning about metadata and its practical application

Cataloging and Metadata Librarian

Profile Photo
Keno Catabay
Michener Library, 131
501 20th Street
Campus Box 48
Greeley, CO 80639
(970) 351-2183

What is metadata?

At its most basic level, metadata can be defined as "data about data" -- although this phrase is too broad to be of much use. Instead, we should look at metadata as the information that helps data to be discoverable, reusable, and understandable for others.

Why do I need metadata?

Metadata describes the content, quality, condition, and other characteristics of data. Metadata is generally standardized, structured information that facilitates functions associated with data, such as:

  1. Organizing and managing data
  2. Preserving data for the long term
  3. Ensuring that data can be indexed and discovered in a data repository
  4. Retaining the context around which the data was captured or created, which is vital in facilitating comprehension and reuse of the data by other researchers

Types of Metadata

Descriptive metadata describes the object or data and gives the basic facts: who created it (i.e. authorship), title, keywords, and abstract.

Structural metadata describes the structure of an object including its components and how they are related.  It also describes the format, process, and inter-relatedness of objects. It can be used to facilitate navigation, or define the format or sequence of complex objects.

Administrative metadata includes information about the management of the object and may include information about: preservation and rights management, creation date, copyright permissions, required software, provenance (history), and file integrity checks.