Information Resources and Technology Management


You are invited to read the definitions of terms used in this data standard.

Dublin Core Metadata Element Set, Version 1.1
The Dublin Core Metadata Element Set (DCMES) is a standard for cross-domain information resource description. The DCMES, Version 1.1, is a core set of 15 metadata elements that can be used to describe any type of physical or electronic resource, regardless of the media format, area of specialization, or cultural origin.

The terms "Dublin Core metadata" or "Simple Dublin Core" usually refer to the 15 elements of the DCMES, Version 1.1 (issued 2004-12-20).

Dublin Core Metadata Element Set, Version 1.1: Reference Description

Part 270, FW 6, Data Management and Standards, has been superceded by Part 274, FW 2, Establishing Service Data Standards.

Part 282, Chapter 4, FWS - This chapter of the Service Manual presents policy, procedures and information related to the creation, maintenance, and disposal of electronic records.

The DCMES, Version 1.1 has been formally endorsed by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the National Information Standards Organization (NISO):

The Dublin Core Metadata Initiative (DCMI), the maintenance agency for the Dublin Core, is an organization dedicated to fostering the widespread adoption of interoperable metadata standards and promoting the development of specialized metadata vocabularies for describing resources to enable more intelligent resource discovery systems. The Dublin Core Home Page provides information about the workshops, reports, working group papers, projects, and new developments concerning the DCMES.

The more comprehensive document, "DCMI Metadata Terms" (, includes the latest and authoritative term declarations for the Dublin Core Metadata Element Set, Version 1.1.

The Service's National Digital Library System uses several of the Dublin Core metadata elements to describe the public domain image files contained in the National Image Library, Alaska Historical Image Library, Alaska Image Library, and Washington DC Library. The official field definitions used in the National Library System are referenced below, in the Tools section of this standard.

Use Instructions
The DCMES, Version 1.1, should be used to describe digital records of information resources developed or distributed by the Service. This includes printed books and publications, CD-ROM's, DVD's, VHS tapes, video and film clips, images, photos, and electronic documents that will be shared, used many times, or are of potential historic/long-term importance to the Service. Specifically, elements in the DCMES should be used by Service staff and contractors to describe the digital records contained in the Service's image, video, and publication libraries. The primary purpose for implementing this standard is to achieve a precise and complete search and retrieval method across disparate sources of descriptive records.

The Element Set:

  • Each element has a descriptive label intended to convey a common semantic understanding of the element.
  • While some environments, such as HTML, are not case-sensitive, it is recommended best practice to adhere to the case conventions in the element names to avoid conflicts in the event that the metadata is subsequently extracted or converted to a case-sensitive environment, such as XML (Extensible Markup Language).
  • Each element is optional and repeatable.
  • Metadata elements may appear in any order.
  • The ordering if multiple occurrences of the same element (e.g., Creator) may have a significance intended by the provider, but ordering is not guaranteed to be preserved in every system.
Tools and software - Utilities and templates for creating Dublin Core metadata.
Approval Date
October 24, 2006
Validation Date
March 29, 2010
Data Steward Anne Roy, Librarian, Conservation Library, Branch of Media Services, Division of Training and Educational Materials Production, National Conservation Training Center.


Last updated: May 9, 2019