StaffGuide: CONTENTdm Cookbook

Recipes for Metadata Entry for the University of Arkansas Libraries

Brief Introduction to Dublin Core


The Dublin Core metadata schema is maintained by the Dublin Core Metadata Initiative (DCMI). Dublin Core originated in Dublin, Ohio at a 1995 metadata workshop hosted by the Online Computer Library Center, Inc. (OCLC) and the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA). DCMI separated from OCLC in 2008 to become a separate company. In 2013, DCMI ceased to be an independent company to partner with The Association for Information Science and Technology (ASIS&T), which provides an institutional umbrella for DCMI. DCMI is supported by memberships and is structured by governing boards, communities and task groups.

Dublin Core is the lingua franca of the metadata world, in that it is the common denominator for the Open Archives Initiative Protocol for Metadata Harvesting (OAI-PMH). This protocol facilitates the harvesting of metadata from one repository (or one platform) for re-use by another. Many “crosswalks” exist to map elements between DC and other metadata schemes such as MARC (used for library catalogs), MODS, VRA, CDWA, and PBCore.


The basic, or “Simple,” Dublin Core (DC) metadata element set is comprised of 15 elements.The expanded version, commonly called “Qualified Dublin Core,” incorporates additional elements and further subcategories or “refinements” to some elements. According to the DC standard, no elements are required, and all are repeatable.  All are permissible in CONTENTdm.

The 15 basic elements are:

  1. Contributor
  2. Coverage
  3. Creator
  4. Date
  5. Description
  6. Format
  7. Identifier
  8. Language
  9. Publisher
  10. Relation
  11. Rights
  12. Source
  13. Subject
  14. Title
  15. Type

The elements in their basic format appear as follows: dc.contributor, dc.coverage, etc. (In CONTENTdm, element names are formatted as Contributors, Coverage, etc.)

Qualified Dublin Core not only adds additional elements to the 15 basic, but also allows for further clarification of the basic elements using refinements or qualifiers. For example: dc.coverage.temporal, (in CONTENTdm, Coverage-Temporal, Date-Created).


6/12/14   D. Kulczak / A. Allen