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DCMI Agents Working Group


DRAFT DRAFT DRAFT DRAFT DRAFT Functional Requirements for Describing Agents

Dublin Core Metadata Initiative - Agents Working Group

Date: 30 January 2004

Creator: Andrew Wilson,
National Archives of Australia
Contributor: Robina Clayphan
British Library

Status of this document: Working Draft

Change history: Draft 2 (2004-02-05)

Description: This document outlines a set of functional requirements for describing agents.

Comments and feedback should be sent to the working group mailing list, <>, the archives for which may be browsed at <>, (NOTE, you must be a member of the WG to post messages to the WG) or, alternatively, send your feedback to the Authors of this Working Draft.

1. Background/Discussion


is some ambiguity with this issue. The principle question is whether we are trying to ‘describe’ agents or ‘identify’ them? How relevant or important is the question? Dublin Core metadata is used for descriptions of resources for the purposes of making discovering them easier. Therefore we characterise DC metadata records as description for discovery. So can we apply this concept to agent descriptions? Perhaps we are describing agents for the purpose of unambiguously identifying them so they can be correctly associated with the resources for which they are responsible? In other words, description for identification. Agent descriptions, therefore, serve two purposes: description and identification. So we are trying to describe agents in a way that will allow us to:

  • disambiguate different agents who have shared or

    similar attributes (such as name, etc);

  • recognise when agents are the same, despite appearing

    to be different, for example different presentations of the same name, pseudonyms, etc.;

  • contact the correct agent associated with a resource;

  • and collocate all the works of any specific agent.

Disambiguation may be the most significant of these

purposes. It enables effective searching for resources by enabling a reasonable degree of certainty about associated agents, and it is essential for protection of intellectual property and to assist with copyright payments, where a high degree of certainty about agents is needed.

So the resource description/discovery community needs an

agent core because the DC element set does not allow a sufficiently precise description of an agent to support the above functions.

2. Scope

This document aims to set out the requirements and the metadata elements needed for unambiguously describing OR identifying the agents associated with resources. Agent descriptions may be contained within DC metadata records, or linked to the DC metadata records for particular resources as an associated metadata description. It is not within the scope of this document to consider the issue of where agent descriptions should be located. The functional requirements set out in this document will form the basis for development of a core set of metadata elements for describing agents.

For the purposes of this document agents are defined as persons (author, publisher, sculptor, editor, director, etc.) or groups (organization, corporation, library, orchestra, country, federation, etc.) that have a role in the lifecycle of a resource.

We also point out the constraints of the various data protection acts which ensure that there is only a limited amount of data that can legally be recorded about persons. So dates and location may be problematic for living people unless their explicit permission to include such data is obtained.

3. Entities

We define two classes of agents in this document:

1. Person: an individual human being, living or dead; and

2. Group: a set, either existing or defunct, of individual entities acting collectively.

4. Attributes


class of entity has associated with it a set of attributes or characteristics that serve to identify that entity unambiguously from all other entities of either class.

4.1 Attributes of a Person

This document defines the attributes of a person as the following:


other information



A scheme, numeric or alphabetic, or a combination of the two, used to identify unambiguously a specific individual agent. No such schemes yet exist. This element will allow for the use of such schemes when and if they are developed.

4.1.2 Name

The name or names by which the person is known, including alternative names.

4.1.3 Dates

May include date of the person's birth and/or death, or floruit dates (ie. an indication of the period in which the person was known to be active in a given field of endeavour).

4.1.4 Title

A word or phrase used to identify the rank, office, nobility, honour, etc. of the person.

4.1.5 Affiliation

The name of the organization, institution, company, or other body with which the person was or is associated, or by whom the person was employed or contracted.

4.1.6 Location

Information about the person’s principal area of residence over time. Context may be indicated by the use of appropriate qualifiers (for example: Lived in Canberra 1991-2005).

4.1.7 Email

Email address or addresses currently assigned to the person at the time of the description.

4.1.8 Other


Any additional significant information about the person that is needed to unambiguously identify that person.

4.2 Attributes of a Group

This document defines the attributes of a group as the following:

legal number
web site
other information


Any official number assigned by a public authority that is used to identify the group.

4.2.2. Name

Names by which the group is or was known. May include other forms of the name and changes of name over time.

4.2.3 Jurisdiction

The legal name of the judicial and administrative entity which has jurisdiction over the territory in which the group operates.

4.2.4 Location

The place from which the group operated.

4.2.5 Dates

Dates indicating the period the group operated. May include such things as date of founding and dissolution, date of legal mandate establishing the group, etc.

4.2.6 Web


The http address of the world wide web site operated by the group.

4.2.7 Other


Any additional significant information about the group that is needed to unambiguously identify that group.