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Digital Collections Metadata: What is metadata?

This guide's primary function is to explain what metadata is and what metadata should be used for Fordham Libraries' Digital Collections.

Metadata is...

  • a set of data that describes and gives information about other data

  • a key component of a strong and successful digital project

  • basic data about objects put into computer friendly 'containers'

  • what allows users to locate items within a digital collection

  • very important to painting a complete picture of the digital item

  • important for providing accessibility to your digital project and digital items


Three Types of Metadata

There are three different types of metadata. All are very important to describing digital assets. Together they paint a complete and properly organized picture of the digital object for users.


  • Data that provides information about how your digital item is organized or structured.
  • Illustrates the relationship of content within a digital object.
  • For example: page numbers, chapters, table of contents, and indexes.
  • Contains three sub-types of metadata referenced by the National Information Standards Organization. 
  • Technical Metadata- data that provides insight to the technical characteristics of your digital object.
  • For example: file type, date object was created, software and hardware used to create object.
  • Preservation Metadata- data that is imperative for the long-term life of your digital object. Helps to manage and archive your digital objects.
  • For example: resolution, date, producer, source, and color.
  • Rights Metadata- data that provides insight to the copyright status of your object (intellectual property and usage rights.)
  • For example: formalized expression of copyright status, rights holder, and the URL to the license.
  • Data that encodes the digital objects for discoverability and allows objects to be properly identified. This is basic data that describes the object as a whole. It also allows the object to be distinguishable from other, similar objects. 
  • The most robust type of metadata.
  • Includes unique identifiers, physical data, and bibliographic data.
  • For example: ISBN, dimensions, total page count, edition, title, author, and keywords.