Photography Media Journal
ISSN 1918-8153

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Metadata for Image Resources

by: Tomasz Neugebauer

July 2005

page: 2 of 10

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VRA Core Categories

VRA Core Categories (version 3.0) “consist of a single element set that can be applied as many times as necessary to create records to describe works of visual culture as well as the images that document them” [7]. VRA Core is meant to facilitate interoperability among collections, while allowing for custom extensibility (adding new qualifiers) to capture detailed and custom collection information. Initially, VRA Core contained two separate element sets: one for the description of the work, and another for the description of the ‘visual document. These two element sets from VRA Core 2.0 were combined into a single universally applicable element set in version 3.0, and add the new element Record Type to distinguish the two types of (work or image) descriptions. The relationship between a work (‘a physical entity’) and an image (‘a visual representation of a work’) is one-to-one or one-to-many. There is overlap between VRA Core and Dublin Core (DC), for example “VRA Core 3 Relationship types are consistent with the DC Relation element”[8]. Another common principle between VRA Core and DC is the One-to-One Principle which states that each manifestation of a work should be treated as a separate object with metadata assigned to each manifestation, and the fact that all elements are optional.

Other Metadata Schemas

The USMARC Format for Bibliographic Data is usually combined with AACR2 for the most extensively used standard for representing and communicating bibliographic data in machine readable form. Another standard maintained by the Development and MARC Standards Office of the Library of Congress (LC) in partnership with the Society of American Archivists is the EAD Document Type Definition (DTD) for encoding archival finding aids using Extensible Markup Language (XML)[9]

    Record Export for Art and Cultural Heritage (REACH) Element Set was developed in 1997 as a part of a research project “to explore how existing information in museum collection management systems could be extracted and repurposed to provide online access to museum object descriptive information”[10]. Although this project is no longer active (site was ‘frozen’ in 2004), REACH element set does provide an example of a metadata schema for cultural heritage information objects. Similarly, version 2.0 of Categories for Descriptions of Works of Art (CDWA) is a schema for description of “the content of art databases by articulating a conceptual framework for describing and accessing information about objects and images”[11]. The important taxonomy for CDWA categories is that between information “intrinsic to the work (art object, architecture, or group) and information extrinsic to the work” such as “persons, places, and concepts related to the work may be important for retrieval, but is more efficiently recorded in separate authorities than in records about the work itself”[12].

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