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OCLC Research and the Dublin Core Metadata Initiative

Historical overview, 1994 – 2009

11 June 2009—As of December 2008 the Dublin Core Metadata Initiative Limited (DCMI) is a fully independent, public not-for-profit Company limited by Guarantee in Singapore. It is an open organization engaged in the development of interoperable online metadata standards and serves as the maintenance agency for the Dublin Core metadata standard.

OCLC’s research staff were instrumental in the development of the initiative, starting with a hallway conversation at the 2nd International World Wide Web Conference in late 1994. OCLC researchers Stuart Weibel and Eric Miller, OCLC Office of Research Director Terry Noreault, Joseph Hardin of the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA), and the late Yuri Rubinsky of SoftQuad, were remarking about the difficulty of finding resources on the Web. Their discussion provided the impetus for development of the Dublin Core Metadata Element Set, now known simply as “Dublin Core,” now an international metadata standard.

The first workshop was co-hosted by NCSA and OCLC in March 1995, at which 52 invitees explored the usefulness of a core set of semantics for categorizing the Web to make search and retrieval and the management of web content easier. Because the workshop was held at OCLC headquarters in Dublin, Ohio, the result was named “Dublin Core” Metadata.

The following year, Lorcan Dempsey and Stu Weibel jointly organized the second Dublin Core workshop at Warwick (UK). Dempsey, currently OCLC Vice President, Research, and Chief Strategist, was at UKOLN at the time, and that organization and OCLC together sponsored the workshop, with support from the UK's Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC), NCSA , D-Lib Magazine and the European Research Consortium for Informatics and Mathematics (ERCIM). Thus the Dublin Core Workshop series began, which continues today as the International Conference on Dublin Core and Metadata Applications.

OCLC provided financial and in-kind administrative support for the independently-governed initiative from DCMI’s early days. With the strong support of OCLC Research Vice Presidents Noreault and Dempsey, Stu Weibel served as the initial director for DCMI. Dempsey served on the DCMI Board of Trustees from its inception in early 2002 until DCMI's incorporation on 23 December, 2008. OCLC continues to be represented on what is now called the DCMI Oversight Committee.

DCMI was incorporated as an independent entity in late 2008.  In March 2009 OCLC completed transfer of DCMI-related assets and supporting activities to DCMI.  These are significant milestones in the establishment of an independent, professional and sustainable organization that develops, maintains and promotes the Dublin Core metadata terms and associated documentation for a global audience. With the conclusion of this transition, OCLC’s role as host of the DCMI comes to an end.

Since the initial 1995 meeting, more than a dozen conferences and workshops have been held on four continents, and the Dublin Core has become an ISO standard. In 2001, the format was broadened to include tutorials and peer-reviewed conference papers and posters. This offered the metadata community enhanced opportunities to learn, exchange ideas and work on development of Dublin Core metadata standards.

Recognizing that the language of metadata is generally the language of a resource description, the DCMI standard now includes a registry that provides definitions in more than 20 languages. With the material support of OCLC and other organizations, it has evolved into an open organization—also known as DCMI—that focuses on the development of interoperable online metadata standards that facilitate the finding, sharing and management of information.


Bibliography – Selected articles

Weibel, Stuart L. 2009. "Dublin Core Metadata Initiative: A Personal History."  Encyclopedia of Library and Information Science, 2nd ed., ed. Marcia J. Bates, Mary Niles Maack, and Miriam Drake. London: Taylor and Francis. Available online at:

Weibel, Stuart L. 2005. "Border Crossings: Reflections on a Decade of Metadata Consensus Building." D-Lib Magazine, 11,7/8 (July/August). Available online at:

Harris, Patricia, and Stuart L. Weibel. 2004. "Metadata: A Worldwide Library Effort" ISO Focus, (April):31-32. Eprint available at (PDF:186K/2pp.), courtesy of the publisher.

Dekkers, Makx, and Stuart Weibel. 2003. "State of the Dublin Core Metadata Initiative." D-Lib Magazine, 9,4 (April). Available online at:

Dekkers, Makx, and Stuart L. Weibel. 2002. "Dublin Core Metadata Initiative Progress Report and Workplan for 2002." D-Lib Magazine, 8,2 (February). Available online at:

Duval, Erik, Wayne Hodgins, Stuart Sutton, and Stuart L. Weibel. 2002. "Metadata Principles and Practicalities." D-Lib Magazine, 8,4 (April). Available online at:

Weibel, Stuart L. 2001. "Dublin Core Metadata Initiative Progresses." OCLC Newsletter, 249 (January/February): 27-31. (PDF:3139K/48pp.). Available online at:

Weibel, Stuart L. 2000. "The Dublin Core Metadata Initiative: Frankfurt and Beyond." OCLC Newsletter, 245 (May/June): 24-25. (PDF:1429K/40pp.). Available online at:

Weibel, Stuart L. and Traugott Koch. 2000. "The Dublin Core Metadata Initiative: Mission, Current Activities, and Future Directions." D-Lib Magazine, 6,12 (December). Available online at:

Weibel, Stuart. “The State of the Dublin Core Metadata Initiative: April 1999.” D-Lib Magazine, 5,4 (April). Available online at:

Bearman, David, Eric Miller, Godfrey Rust, Jennifer Trant, and Stuart Weibel. 1999. "A Common Model to Support Interoperable Metadata: Progress report on reconciling metadata requirements from the Dublin Core and INDECS/DOI Communities." D-Lib Magazine, 5,1 (January). Available online at: (Another version of this article appeared in Annual Review of OCLC Research, 1998.

Weibel, Stuart L. and Juha Hakala. 1998. "DC-5: The Helsinki Metadata Workshop: A Report on the Workshop and Subsequent Developments." D-Lib Magazine, (February). Available online at: (Another version of this article appeared in Annual Review of OCLC Research, 1997.

Weibel, Stuart L. 1997. "The Dublin Core: A Simple Content Description Model for Electronic Resources." Bulletin of the American Society for Information Science 24,1 (October/November): 9-11. Available online at:

Weibel, Stuart, Renato Iannella, and Warwick Cathro. 1997. "The 4th Dublin Core Metadata Workshop Report." D-Lib Magazine, 3,6 (June). Available online at:

Weibel, Stuart, and Eric Miller. 1997. "Image Description on the Internet: A Summary of the CNI/OCLC Image Metadata Workshop." D-Lib Magazine, 3,1 (January). Available online at:

Dempsey, Lorcan, and Stuart L. Weibel. 1996. "The Warwick Metadata Workshop: A Framework for the Deployment of Resource Description." D-Lib Magazine, 2,7 (July/August). Available online at: (Another version of this article appeared in Annual Review of OCLC Research, 1996.

Weibel, Stuart L. 1995. "Metadata: The Foundations of Resource Description." D-Lib Magazine, 1,1 (July). Available online at: (Another version of this article appeared in Annual Review of OCLC Research, 1995.

Created 9 October 2009; updated 15 March 2010