Metadata description schemas of cultural heritage institutions in the context of interoperability


Producing their own cultural values and products, societies continue their existence through information resources related to their products and values in line with their social, cultural, political, and technological development. Management of these products (such as identification, preservation, accessibility, and sustainability) is becoming an important process, since they have symbolic power reflecting not only social memory but also the history of a given society. Accordingly, national and international regulations regarding the preservation of cultural heritage were enacted and from the year 2000 onwards, institutions such as the Council of Europe and the European Union have concentrated their agenda on this issue (Dagistan Ozdemir, 2005 as cited in (Jakmak & Yilmaz, 2017, p. 50).

Cultural heritage resources are information-based content that include historical records, manuscripts, historical books, ephemeral documents, audio-visual materials, and every type of printed or electronic content which provide evidence about the past and are kept in museums, libraries, archives, and research centres. While traditionally all cultural heritage resources, as information content, were created in the printed environment, now some resources are created in digital form (Kiilcii, 2016, p. 640). Digitisation and developing digital systems for printed resources are still major challenges for cultural heritage organisations.

Museums, libraries, and archives (MLA), which can be referred to as cultural memory institutions, have begun to take steps to enhance their capacity for digitisation, digital preservation, and technological infrastructure in order to manage the cultural heritage objects in their collections and respond to the expectations of users, especially since the late 1990s (Astle Sc Muir, 2002). At the beginning of the 21st century, good examples of digital museums, libraries, and archives have appeared around the world. In the past decade, studies on new kinds of digital content management focused on good examples, preparing international standards and integration. In addition, national and international studies started to aim for standardisation, creation of guidelines, and examples of good practice to solve the problem of accessing and managing all content kept in different organisations. Organisational approaches to the management of cultural resources, as well as the types of cultural resources, differ greatly. For example, for description and classification of content, while libraries use the Dewey Decimal Classification or Library of Congress Classification (LCC) systems, archives use Encoded Archival Description (EAD) or Standard Filing System (SFS) in Turkey, and museums Spectrum,[1] or local systems for cultural materials such as manuscripts, historic books or records, museum objects, etc. (Kiilcti, 2015). The development of a common metadata set continues to aim to create usable resources in a manageable form(s) on one information retrieval platform. Some good examples are the Online Archive of California (OAC,, the Electronic Cultural Atlas Initiative (ECAI,, and Europeana (https://www. A wide variety of the content coming from more than 300 culture organisations, MLAs, and research centres is accessible via the OAC interface. Using ECAI, a modern kind of atlas and gazetteer, it is possible to discover the content powered by temporal and geospatial tools from all around the world as part of cultural heritage. Europeana is a platform for 40 million cultural resources from 32 countries. However, digital museums, libraries, and archives are mostly not ready for integration such platforms or with union catalogues to make their collections more visible because of differences in software architecture. International standards for describing, creating, and managing digital cultural resources are readily available, for example EAD, Metadata Object Description Schema (MODS), Metadata Encoding and Transmission Standard (METS), Dublin Core (DC), Lightweight Information Describing Objects (LIDO), and Connecting ARchaeol- ogy and ARchitecture in Europeana (CARARE) (Kiilcii, 2015).

As in every stage of technological development, services are delivered according to the current technological solutions in the field of cultural heritage management, as well. The study presented in this chapter investigates the presentation of cultural heritage objects and web-based systems of cultural institutions in Turkey in terms of their web platforms. Based on the research results, recommendations and necessary improvements related to the visibility of Turkish cultural heritage objects are defined.

  • [1] descriptive metadata: describes a resource for purposes such as discovery and identification. It can include elements such as title, abstract,author, and keywords
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