The Dublin Core Metadata Initiative is relevant to document management software for many reasons, but when it comes to enterprise content management it’s a different game entirely. Enterprise content management requires its own set of metadata standards, which are provided within the metadata object description schema, or MODS. Let’s take a look at the differences between the two and how MODS can be particularly useful in specific sectors.


Why the Dublin Core Metadata Initiative is Still Relevant to DMS

There are many reasons that the Dublin Core Metadata Initiative is still relevant to document management software (DMS). First of all, it’s a simple and all-encompassing group of standards. Second, it works across many industries. This allows one DMS platform to work well for many different companies, and it means that companies whose work spans several sectors can use a single DMS.


The Reasons Enterprise Content Management Needs a Different Set of Standards

Put simply, enterprise content management (ECM) is different and requires a different set of metadata standards. Those are provided for in MODS, which will be particularly useful for post-secondary libraries that want to go digital because these standards adhere better to the management of complex digital objects.


Backing Up: Why Do We Need Metadata in the First Place?

Plenty of people know what metadata is but don’t necessarily understand why it’s necessary. It allows for a number of tasks to be more easily completed, including:

  • Discovering, locating, and identifying resources
  • Bringing resources together
  • Distinguishing between resources that are both similar and dissimilar
  • Recording rights information
  • Ensuring that documents can be accessed in the long-term
  • Preserving documents


Issues that Must Be Considered when Creating Metadata

Not all metadata should be stored in the same way. When using a document management system, most users can trust that the designers of the platform they’re using have taken the time to discover and solve problems that arise when classifying metadata. Some of the decisions made include:

  • Deciding what level of description should be included
  • Deciding who will create the metadata
  • Controlling vocabulary
  • Controlling authority
  • Presenting metadata to users
  • Deciding if and how it will be shared


A Basic Overview of MODS

Now that you understand some of the issues that arise when creating metadata, let’s take a closer look at MODS and the problems it was created to solve. Essentially, MODS is an XML schema that was created to encode descriptive metadata for digital objects. When it was first created it was designed with libraries in mind, though it can be applied in many different settings. It’s derived from MARC, or Machine-Readable Cataloguing, but developers wanted something simpler than MARC and something that could more easily work with different types of media than Dublin Core. However, it also needed to be rich enough to describe complex digital objects. As you can see, it was a tall order to fill.


The Features and Advantages of MODS

When compared to Dublin Core, MODS is richer, but not as rich as UNTL metadata. It’s somewhere in the middle, and meets more complex needs without becoming too complex itself. Other features and advantages include:

  • Its elements are parallel to MARC when it comes to semantics.
  • It doesn’t assume the use of any particular rules.
  • Element descriptions are capable of being reused.
  • Because XML schema is used, it is very flexible.
  • It’s hierarchical.


The 20 MODS Elements

There are 20 MODS elements:

  1. Title info
  2. Name
  3. Type of resource
  4. Genre
  5. Origin information
  6. Language
  7. Physical description
  8. Abstract
  9. Table of contents
  10. Target audience
  11. Note
  12. Subject
  13. Classification
  14. Related items
  15. Identifier
  16. Location
  17. Access conditions
  18. Part
  19. Extension
  20. Record info

These elements manage to be both specific to digital files yet broad enough to cover a wide range of archiving needs. The space for a “note” allows users to add the specific information they need.


The Future of MODS

It’s clear that more and more universities are using DMS for everything from grant applications to admissions forms. As a result, many wonder: is there a future in MODS? Let’s take a look at some of the reasons people believe it’s around for the long haul:

  • It’s backed by the Library of Congress.
  • Library communities have shown interest.
  • There were 25 original implementers.

Others believe it’s just a flash in the pan. Here’s why:

  • There are several more established competitors, including Dublin Core and UNTL Metadata.
  • It can be difficult for MODS to make a huge impact today for all communities. However, it does offer interesting ideas for digital libraries.

While the future of MODS is in question, one thing is certain: it meets a specific need that many experts believe was a long time in the making.