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Introduction to Metadata Application Profiles

Successful data sharing requires that users of your data understand the data format, the data semantics, and the rules that govern your particular use of terms and values. Sharing often means the creation of "cross-walks" that transfer data from one schema to another using some or all of this information. However, cross-walks are time-consuming because the information that is provided is neither standardized nor machine-readable. Application profiles aim to make sharing data more efficient and more effective. They can also do much more than facilitate sharable data: APs can help metadata developers clarify and express design options; they can be a focus for consensus within a community; they can drive user interfaces; and they can be the basis for quality control. Machine-actionable APs could become a vital tool in the metadata toolbox and there is a clear need for standardization. Communities such as Dublin Core and the World Wide Web Consortium are among those working in this area.


Karen Coyle

Karen Coyle is a librarian with four decades of experience with library technology. She has published dozens of articles and reports, most available on her website,, and is a frequent speaker at digital library conferences. She has served on standards committees including the MARC standards group (MARBI), NISO committee AX for the OpenURL standard, and the RDF validation standard "SHACL". She is currently co-chairing the W3C working group on dataset exchange metadata. Karen co-authored the DCMI Guidelines for Application Profiles.