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OSU Library Metadata: A Guideline to Best Practices: Source

This site provides guidelines for OSU's local implementation of CDP Dublin Core Metadata Best Practices Version 2.1.1

Dublin Core Definition: Source

Dublin Core Definition: A reference to a resource from which the present resource is derived.

Dublin Core Comment: The present resource may be derived from the source resource in whole or in part. Recommended best practice is to reference the resource by means of a string or number conforming to a formal identification system.

Comment/Context: Source

When applicable, use the Source element to cite any other resource from which the digital resource was derived, either in whole or in part.  Some digital resources are “born digital” and derive from no pre-existing resource; in these cases, the Source element is not used.

Input Guidelines: Source

  1.  Enter multiple source information in order of their importance. Use separate Source elements to enter multiple sources or clearly separate each entry by a semicolon followed by a space (; ) within an element. Usually there will be only one source from which the present digital resource has been derived.
  2. If, as in most cases, the Source element describes an originating resource upon which the digital is somehow based, then also include a Relation element for more information. Such Relation elements often duplicate information given in the Source element, but in shorter form and often with a hyperlink added.
  3. The Source element may consist of a combination of elements such as free text combined with a formal identification system (such as an ISBN to describe a book).
  4. Whenever possible, include a unique standard identifier such as an ISBN, ISSN, LC call number, Dewey call number, or NTIS report number. If no standard identifier exists, use a local call number, control number, accession number, or barcode. Identify the institution associated with such locally derived numbers.
  5. Clarify the nature of the relationship between the two resources by using an initial phrase such as “Originally published as:,” “Excerpted from:,” “Original book:,” “Original format:,” or “Reproduction of:,” etc.


  1.  If the item is born digital the Source element will not be used.
  2. The Source element usually is used in conjunction with a corresponding Relation element. Because Source elements show a derivative relationship with another resource, they generally have a corresponding Relation element to show that relationship. Not all Relation elements, however, conversely require a corresponding Source element because not all related resources are derivative. For example, a resource might require another resource to support it or it might be referenced by another resource. In both these cases, a Relation element might be required (i.e., Relation [Requires] and Relation [IsReferencedBy]), but a Source element would not. See Relation for more information.
  3. In general, include information about a previous version which does not fit easily into Relation.

Examples: Source

Source Comments
Original letter. Letter from R.C. Smith to J.L. Fisher, Dec. 24, 1892, K.C. Fisher Papers, Calhoun State University, Special Collections, Accession No. 5346-9, box 2, folder 8 Digitized reproduction of a handwritten letter described in Source element
Original verstion: 35 mm slide of a Van Briggle dark blue vase, slide no. 101 in the Modern Pottery Collection, San Francisco Institute of Art. Digitized image from an original slide described in Source element
Excerpted from: 30 minute audio cassette recording of Galway Kinnel, reading from his poems, at Southern Connecticut State University, April 6, 1987. Digitized audio clip taken from an audio cassette recording described in Source element
Original Artifact: Red Raku WAre Tea Bowl, 3 3/8 x 5 1/2 inches, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Accession No. 98-234 Textual description
Original format: First Road West: The Oregon Trail Through Wyoming (Cheyenne, Wyo.: Wyoming Recreation Commission, 1976) 1 videocassette (48 min.): sd.,col. ; 1/2 in. F597.F47 1976 (Univ. of Wyoming Libraries) Textual description URL for a MARC record that describes the original resource
Originally published as: Geek Love (New York: Warner Books, 1990), ISBN: 0446391301, 355 p. Digitized version of a published book described in Source element
2007_004_281 Collection number from Oral History. This is a combination of the SCUA number and oral history number.
2011-072 Special Collections collection number.
The Field Guide to Oklahoma Native Plants from Special Collections
1919 Redskin from Special Collections
OSU Photograph Collection from Special Collections

Source: CDP Dublin Core Metadata Best Practices Version 2.1, 2006 and local examples