Towards The European Metadata Registry

by László Kovács, András Micsik and Jill Cousins

UKOLN and SZTAKI are partners with The European Library in a new research collaboration that aims to create a European Metadata Registry.

The existing European Library service is an ambitious and pioneering collaboration between European national libraries. It is supported by the EU and was created under the auspices of the Conference of European National Librarians (CENL). It offers a single access point to their holdings and spans a range of collections in all the partner National Libraries. This means that researchers or informed citizens in any country can use - in a single search session – not only the resources of their own national library but alsothose of any other partner national libraries. The European Library adds value to content by offering indexing services through the individual national libraries. It creates a pan-European platform and is a strategic initiative in European content enrichment.

To extend this work, the European Library has commenced a new collaboration with UKOLN (United Kingdom) and SZTAKI, which aims to create a European Metadata Registry (EMR). This resulted in some software development and a prototype of a running registry service, which is capable of registering application profiles and their semantic connections. The reuse of profiles, terms, elements and encoding schemas is effectively supported by implementing an open platform for a collaboration of users from the CORES registry. A registry is single place to register new metadata terms, inspect terms already in use by different partners, and to propose new terms for properties that require them.

The need for this type of joint European registry is obvious: National Libraries in Europe apply different legacy metadata schemas, including Unimarc and Marc21. The European Library uses the TEL Application Profile, which is Dublin Core with extensions, in order to ensure interoperability when performing a search across libraries and collections.

The European Metadata Registry would provide a set of services:

With these services the EMR will support the production of relevant crosswalks between legacy metadata schemas and/or The European Library schema. In addition, it will provide collaborative services for the development and improvement of new metadata schemas. Previous metadata registry approaches have enforced strict model-based methods in order to reach precise one-to-one schema mappings. This new approach will investigate a more relaxed mapping method, as well as a new collaboration technique - a Schemapedia. This is in the style of a Wikipedia, and is for metadata professionals who either need to develop schemas for their projects or to cross metadata access tools/services. The registry can grow organically on the basis of functional granularity and bilateral mappings. The scope and scalability of the registry are also under study, since the number of registered schemas and mappings cannot be predicted.

We intend the EMR to be a standardized, yet flexible and user-friendly tool. It will administer European metadata from different European cultural heritage communities including libraries, museums and archives, and its aim is to ensure transparency, access and interoperability.
Registry collaboration started with an evaluation of the available registry from The European Library. Some issues were uncovered and suggestions for its improvement have been collected. A functional implementation plan for this improvement is under development, with a likely implementation date of September 2006. At the same time, initial attempts to define the 'whys' and 'whats' of a European Metadata Registry have commenced, and are likely to be funded under the European Digital Library project in eContentPlus.


Please contact:
Jill Cousins, The European Library Office, The Koninklijke Bibliotheek, National Libraryof the Netherlands
Tel: +31 70 314 0952

László Kovacs, SZTAKI, Hungary
Tel: +36 1 279 6212