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Glossary of terms and acronyms

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Note: Italicized items within a definition are defined elsewhere in the glossary.

Alexandria Digital Earth Prototype, a project of the Alexandria Digital Library (ADL), University of California at Santa Barbara, via grant funding from the National Science Foundation for 1999-2004 for 2nd stage project development of the ADL.

Alexandria Digital Library (ADL)
, a project of the University of California at Santa Barbara.

ADL - DLESE - NASA, a partnership between the ADL project, DLESE, and NASA's ESSEC - the NASA Earth and Space Science Education Collections, for the development of a common and extensible metadata framework known as ADN, an XML schema-based framework with strong data typing and controlled vocabulary support. The partnership leverages the ideas, technology, architecture, and communities of all three organizations in order to strengthen and unite digital library efforts in the geosciences.

Describes additional information about an XML element. An example is <price currency="Euro">. Currency is the attribute.

The process of providing metadata information for a resource that enables discovery.

The first order division of metadata fields for the DLESE metadata framework. Categories are made up of fields.

Generically, this means a group of metadata records that are organized around a theme, or some other criteria. For specific types of collections within DLESE, please see the individual entries for DLESE Collection, Reviewed Collection.

Collection-level metadata
Metadata that describes the overall characteristics of a grouping of item-level metadata records. This information includes who maintains the collection, how many resources are in the collection, what type of resources are in the collection and what is the scope of the collection.

Collections development
A process conducted over time that builds and shapes a collection of materials into a balanced, cohesive, and sought-after set of user resources. This process includes assessing the information needs of users, analyzing usage statistics and demographic projections, formulating and articulating selection criteria, planning for resource sharing, creating a well-defined cataloging plan, and creating a selection and deselection mechanism for library items.

Complex tag
A set of XML elements that nest within other elements. Type and Name are nested elements within the complex tag set of Requirements.

Controlled vocabularies
Words or phrases that catalogers use to complete metadata information. Use of common words and phrases ensures better searching capabilities for library users.

A semantic or technical mapping (sometimes both) of one metadata framework to another metadata framework.


Dublin Core - the full name and acronym are Dublin Core Metadata Initiative (DCMI). The Dublin Core metadata element set is a commonly used standard for cross-domain information resource description.

An abbreviation for the DLESE Collection System (cataloging and collection management tool).

An abbreviation for the DLESE Discovery System.

Digital Library for Earth System Education

A frequent question is "How is DLESE pronounced?" Is it DLEES? DLEEZ? DLEEZ-EE, or DLEES-EE? This question was definitively resolved at the very first DLESE Annual Meeting in Bozeman, MT, in 2000, when the K-12 working group noted that since the final "E" at the end of the acronym stands for Education—a "pronounced part of the effort"—it should also be pronounced in articulation of the acronym. The community appreciated both the pun and the sentiment, and it has been "DLEES-EE" ever since.

DLESE Collection System
A Web-based tool for generating, editing, managing, discovering, and sharing metadata records.

DLESE Collection
All resources in DLESE meet a basic set of standards, outlined in the Collections Policy. By definition, these resources are: web-based; have relevance to Earth system education; are basically bug-free; and are available at little or no cost.

Document Type Definition file that specifies how elements inside an XML document should relate to each other. It provides "grammar" rules for an XML document and each of its elements. DLESE's metadata records are XML documents.


Earth and Space Science Education Collections (ESSEC)
A NASA collection; also a DLESE partner in the development of the ADN metadata framework.

The smallest division within an XML document that is defined within a DTD or schema. An example is <body>formatted text</body>. Body is the element.

The smallest division within a metadata framework. Fields become elements in a DTD or schema. Fields become tag sets within XML documents when the field is surrounded by a "<" and a ">" sign.

The systematic format and technical structure that supports metadata concepts, contents, and controlled vocabularies. For DLESE, the systematic format is a variation of the IMS framework and the technical structure is XML.

File Transfer Protocol. The protocol used on the Internet for exchanging files. FTP uses the Internet's TCP/IP protocols to enable data transfer. FTP is most commonly used to download a file from a server using the Internet or to upload a file to a server (e.g., uploading a Web page file to a server) (definition obtained from Webopedia).

Electronic file transfer over the Internet of metadata records between repositories. A primary method of transfer is to use the Open Archives Initiative Protocol for Metadata Harvesting (OAI-PMH).

One of many different metadata schemes that exist. The abbreviation no longer stands for anything. The IMS Project is part of the non-profit EDUCAUSE consortium of U.S. institutions of higher education and their vendor partners that work to develop open market-based standards for online learning, including specifications for learning content metadata.

The ability to share (provide and harvest) metadata records via standard protocols.


Descriptive information (e.g. title, description, audience, geospatial coverage, keywords) that can be used to describe, index, and discover learning resources for particular user needs.

National Aeronautics and Space Administration

National Science Digital Library for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines.

An abbreviation for the Open Archives Initiative, which develops and promotes interoperability standards that aim to facilitate the efficient dissemination of content.

Open Archives Initiative-Protocol for Metadata Harvesting - an application-independent interoperability framework.

Object-Level Metadata
Metadata that generally describes a single item or object.

Required metadata
The minimum level of metadata information that enables searching and indexing of resources within DLESE. Some examples of required metadata include: title, description, audience, technical information, copyright etc. Every resource suggested to DLESE would include this information.

Reviewed collection
Materials that pass the filters to be in the DLESE Reviewed Collection and have been reviewed to ensure that the following criteria stated in the scope statement are met:


An XML document that describes the DLESE metadata framework in terms of structure, data types, number of field occurrences, and controlled vocabularies.

Simple Digital Library Interoperability Protocol. A protocol to facilitate query and response between clients and servers. Clients use SDLIP to request searches to be performed over information sources. The resulting documents are returned synchronously, or they are streamed from service to client as they become available.

Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education; a common abbreviation for these combined disciplines.

A previously-used acronym for: science, mathematics, engineering, and technology education; superseded by the STEM acronym. Also an entity name: the SMETE Digital Library.

Swiki is a quite popular implementation of Ward Cunningham's WikiWikiWeb (Squeak + Wiki = Swiki) that runs under Comanche (wiki-wiki is Hawaiian for "quick"). Swiki may also be referred to as CoWeb, short for Collaborative Website.

Tag set
An element defined in a DTD or a field enclosed in a greater-than and a less-than sign. An example is <body>. The element, body, is defined in the DTD. Body may also be the field name within the metadata scheme (but not necessarily). The tag set is then "<body></body>.

Applyng a process that changes one metadata format to another through the application of a semantic crosswalk and technical XSLT transform, so that DLESE Discovery can handle the metadata provided to make a record discoverable.

UTF = Universal Transformation Format, a method of converting characters into 7- or 8-bit characters. UTF-8 converts Unicode to 8-bit bytes.

Valid or validity
An XML document that adheres to the specifications outlined in the DTD. This generally refers to how an element can occur, the name of the element and the number of times the element can occur.

An XML document that adheres to the following XML syntax rules:

eXentisible Markup Language, a much-used format for defining the structure of information.

Acronym for eXtensible Style Language, a specification for separating style from content when creating HTML or XML pages. The specifications work much like templates, allowing designers to apply single style documents to multiple pages. XSL is the second style specification to be offered by the World Wide Web Consortium ( W3C )(www.w3c.org). XSL allows developers to dictate the way Web pages are printed, and specifications permitting the transfer of XML documents across different applications.

An acronym for Extensible Style Language Transformation, the language used in XSL style sheets to transform XML documents into other XML documents.

Top Last modified October 29, 2007.