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Metadata quality and interoperability of GLAM digital images

Shirley Lim (Victoria University of Wellington, School of Information Management, Wellington, New Zealand)
Chern Li Liew (Victoria University of Wellington, School of Information Management, Wellington, New Zealand)

Aslib Proceedings

ISSN: 0001-253X

Article publication date: 20 September 2011




This study aims to explore how metadata have been applied in GLAM (galleries, libraries, archives and museums) institutions in New Zealand (NZ) and to analyse its overall quality with the interoperability of the metadata element set especially in mind.


The first stage of data collection involved an analysis of the metadata records from 16 institutions from the NZ GLAM sector to examine the types and extent of metadata used. However, by looking at publicly accessible metadata records, it was impossible to determine the full extent of metadata created, especially when there could be metadata that were kept in‐house. This was complemented with interviewing of staff from the institutions concerned.


The study found that metadata records for digital images in four types of institutions have different emphases on metadata functions and a variety of metadata are not applied on a consistent basis. The lack of technical data in metadata records means that digital visual images are not always well protected. There is a consensus among those interviewed that metadata sharing is important. However, the wide use of a proprietary system which comes with pre‐existing metadata fields could result in a lack of flexibility and a risk that institutions adopt cataloguing practices to accommodating their collection management systems rather than to the requirements for interoperability and long‐term preservation.


In addition to studying metadata quality in GLAM digital image repositories, the study also examined the rationale and factors affecting the current practice via interviews with representatives from the institutions concerned. This shed light on potential barriers to interoperability that warranted further examination.



Lim, S. and Li Liew, C. (2011), "Metadata quality and interoperability of GLAM digital images", Aslib Proceedings, Vol. 63 No. 5, pp. 484-498.



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Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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