Metadata and Library


You must be wondering what metadata or in HTML parlon, "meta tags" got to do with the library. UIUC library is responsible for storing several thousand webpages. It's nice to see when commerical and non commerical search engines retrieve our webpages. So in order to make this true we use metatags. As you all know our webpages are authored in HTML. HTML is nothing but a cluster of tags and data enclosed between them. Metadata can be practiced by using the <META> tag facility present in HTML. Let us see how HTML helps us to implement metadata documentation.

Meta tags in HTML

The HTML <META> tag is one of the most important and versatile tags available, but it is often overlooked because it produces no visible content on the viewer's console. META tags come in two types: the "HTTP-EQUIV=" and the "NAME=" tags, and are placed between the <HEAD> and </HEAD> tags.

The HTTP-EQUIV attribute modifies the http header information passed to the browser, which makes the tag extremely powerful.

META tags have two possible attributes:
<META HTTP-EQUIV="name" CONTENT="content">
<META NAME="name" CONTENT="content">
META tags should be placed in the head of the HTML document, between the <HEAD> and </HEAD> tags (especially important in documents using FRAMES).

META tags with an HTTP-EQUIV attribute are equivalent to HTTP headers. Typically, they control the action of browsers, and may be used to refine the information provided by the actual headers. Tags using this form should have an equivalent effect when specified as an HTTP header, and in some servers may be translated to actual HTTP headers automatically or by a pre-processing tool.

NAME attributes
META tags with a name attribute are used for other types which do not correspond to HTTP headers. Sometimes the distinction is blurred; some agents may interpret tags such as "keywords" declared as either "name" or as "http-equiv".

Let us see an example from our library context:


<meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=iso-8859-1">

<meta name="DC.Title" content="UIUC Library">

<meta name="DC.Creator" content="Library Systems Office">

<meta name="DC.Subject" content="Office documentation, E-Reserves, E-Reference, Links, Databases, Digital Information, Journals, Gateway, UIUC, proxy server,library documentation">

<meta name="DC.Description" content="We provide computer and technology support for Library staff and users,We continuously survey Library systems components and functions to determine hardware and software needs, and to provide the basis for future systems planning,We purchase hardware and software for staff and public use and assistant staff in choosing or acquiring computer systems,We have implemented a new Gateway for Library users, Work continues on improving the primary and secondary pages of the Gateway, We give general maintenance and support, and we keep computer equipment running throughout the library system, upgrade software, and provide support for users,Manage the servers, Voyager and other services require servers to deliver databases, images, web pages and utilities">

<meta name="DC.Publisher" content="Aby Rao, Graduate Assistant, Library Systems Office, University of Illinois,Champaign,Urbana ">

<meta name="DC.Contributor" content="Darlene Chirolas, Adam Lewenberg, Aby Rao">

<meta name="DC.Date" scheme="W3CDTF" content="2002-09-18">

<meta name="DC.Type" content="Text.Homepage.Organizational">

<meta name="DC.Format" content="text/html">

<meta name="DC.Identifier" content="">

<meta name="DC.Source" content="">

<meta name="DC.Language" scheme="ISO639-2" content="ENG">

<meta name="DC.Relation" content="">

<meta name="DC.Coverage" content="Library Systems Office, UIUC">

<meta name="DC.Rights" content="University of Illinois">


Customizing these tags

You can make this a part of your webpage by customizing the "content" value. So if you are developing webpages for the Grainger library your publisher tag would look something like this:

<meta name="DC.Publisher" content="Miss. XXX TRTS; Graduate Assistant; Grainger Engineering Library, University of Illinois;Champaign;Urbana ">

Why UIUC Library Webpages need meta tags?

The motivation for this document comes from the fact that our own library pages dont carry enough meta tags. It was found that a large majority of our webpages lacked the much needed meta tags. While designing our page our attempt should be to ensure that meta tags define our webpages well. So some patron looking for information relevant to our site should visit our page. What search engines do is that they screen our HTML page for the meta tage first. So if the meta tag is well defined the search engine will index your page. So our effort should be to define our pages are closely as possible.

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Any questions, please contact: Library Systems Office, 314 Main Library