ISO 15836:2009 Information and documentation - The Dublin Core metadata element set

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Overview of ISO 15836:2009

Full name ISO 15836:2009, Information and documentation - The Dublin Core metadata element set
Version Edition 2
Amendments None
Corrigenda None
Published by ISO/TC 46/SC 4
Languages English, French
Online overview
Type of standard ISO International Standard

Application level

Application This standard specifies how to document metadata for a wide variety of resources.
Conformance classes None


ISO 15836:2009 establishes a standard for cross-domain resource description, known as the Dublin Core Metadata Element Set. Like RFC 3986, this International Standard does not limit what might be a resource.

ISO 15836:2009 defines the elements typically used in the context of an application profile, which constrains or specifies their use in accordance with local or community-based requirements and policies. However, it does not define implementation detail, which is outside the scope of ISO 15836:2009.

Implementation benefits

Because ISO 15836 is so popular, it is probably useful for providing high-level metadata of the likes of a dataset series (e.g. a national medium scale mapping series), so that it can be documented with other resources within the organisation. However, because it uses free text and is at a high level, it is difficult to use effectively any such metadata describing an individual geographic dataset, never mind describing individual features within the dataset.

Implementation guidelines

ISO 15836:2009 is very short (only 13 pages) and hence easy to understand. It is widely used for describing documents and other resources, not only within the library community (where it originated). It specifies 15 metadata elements (properties) for describing a resource, which is documented using free text: title, creator, subject, description, publisher, contributor, date, type, format, identifier, source, language, relation, coverage and rights. This makes it easy to write Dublin Core metadata (any text will conform to the standard), but very difficult to automate metadata operations.

However, ISO 15836:2009 is essentially only the high-level framework for metadata (the 15 metadata elements listed in the previous paragraph) and the Dublin Core Metadata Initiative (DCMI) has developed many other resources built on it, such as more-detailed metadata vocabularies, encodings, resource classes, profiles and tools. DCMI has also done much work on embedding Dublin Core metadata into the work of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), particularly implementing Dublin Core in RDF (Resource Description Framework) for supporting linked data. For more details and resources, see:

See also