Applying the AGLS metadata standard in Australian Government agencies – frequently asked questions (FAQs)


1. Are there any documents that help explain AGLS implementation?

The National Archives has prepared one consolidated document that sets out requirements for implementing AGLS metadata in Australian Government agencies. See the AGLS Metadata Standard: Australian Government Implementation Manual.

2. I have found two documents about AGLS – the AGLS Usage Guide and the Australian Government Implementation Manual. Are these the same document? Which one should I use?

The AGLS Usage Guide is part of the AGLS Metadata Standard. This version was endorsed by Standards Australia in June 2010 and published as AS 5044.2-2010. It is intended for a much broader audience than just Australian Government agencies, and is therefore not as prescriptive.

The publication AGLS Metadata Standard: Australian Government Implementation Manual: is specifically aimed at helping Australian Government agencies implement AS 5044–2010 to meet their obligations under Better Practice Checklist - 6. Use of Metadata for Web Resources. For Australian Government agencies, the Australian Government Implementation Manual takes precedence over the Usage Guide.

3. Where can I find practical examples of AGLS usage?

The AGLS Metadata Standard: Australian Government Implementation Manual contains examples of how to describe resources using AGLS metadata in HTML and XHTML.

Examples of how to describe resources using AGLS metadata in XML and RDF syntax are available on the AGLS website.

4. Should I put AGLS metadata on an intranet?

AGLS metadata is aimed at improving public access to government resources, therefore it is not necessary to apply AGLS metadata to resources on intranets. However you can use AGLS to describe these resources and improve discoverability by agency staff.

If you decide to make your intranet part of your digital recordkeeping system, the Australian Government Recordkeeping Metadata Standard should be used to describe digital records.

5. Should I put AGLS metadata on a password protected extranet?

AGLS metadata is aimed at improving public access to government resources, therefore it is not necessary to apply AGLS metadata to resources on sites which are not generally available to the public. However you can use AGLS to describe these resources and improve discoverability for users of closed websites.

6. I already have a generic metadata set to be indexed by commercial search engines. Do I have to delete this metadata when I add the AGLS set or can I keep both sets?

You can keep both sets of metadata.

7. Do I have to write documentation about the metadata I've created for future web managers to refer to if they need to?

This would be useful as it establishes the business process to create, maintain and manage metadata on your site. It would be worthwhile to include optional properties of the AGLS standard that you see as useful from your organisation's perspective and any rules for their use including the use of functional or subject-based thesauruses. Such documentation would also be useful for resource creators in understanding their information management responsibilities.

8. What is the order of the metadata properties in a resource description?

The order of metadata properties is not significant. You can list properties in any order, however it us useful to be consistent across a website.

9. What is meant by a metadata 'property'? Is this the same as a metadata 'element' or 'tag'?

Current documentation reflects the terminology used in the revised DCMI Abstract Model approved as a Dublin Core Metadata Initiative Recommendation in 2007. This is described in more detail in the AGLS Metadata Standard: Australian Government Implementation Manual.

A metadata property is one of the Dublin Core or AGLS properties in the AGLS Metadata Standard. Each property describes a specific aspect of the resource. The terms 'element' and 'tag' are deprecated in recognition of the fact that the internet is no longer just a publishing medium and metadata can be used for many resource discovery and access purposes.

10. How is a 'collection level' defined? How rigid or flexible is it?

A 'collection-level' resource is a resource on an agency website that gives access to other resources dealing with a particular topic, or project, or which are of a specific type. Some examples of collection-level resources are an agency homepage, an entry page for individual media releases, and any web page which is the top level of a specific sub-directory within your agency website. A number of the resource types listed in Annex B: AGLS Metadata Obligations of Government Online are collection-level resources.

The definition is somewhat flexible, but in practical terms it is usually clear which resources are 'collection-level' resources and which are not.

11. Is there any limit to the amount of content I can put in the AGLS value?

While there is no theoretical limit (apart from limits imposed by hardware and software) to the amount of content you can put in any one value, it is poor practice to overload metadata records with content. The aim of any metadata standard (not just AGLS) is to describe resources in as concise and accurate a manner as possible.

12. Does every resource on my site need to have AGLS metadata?

No. In fact describing every single resource on a website is not the intention of the Government Online or AGLS implementation. The minimum set of resources requiring descriptions is described in the AGLS Metadata Standard: Australian Government Implementation Manual. However most modern content management systems should be able to generate at least the mandatory metadata properties and automatically fill the values for all resources on an agency public website.

13. How often can or should I update the metadata?

You should update the metadata for a resource every time the content of the resource itself is changed or any of the contextual information changes (eg a change of URI, a change of agency name, etc).

14. Can 'English' be used instead of 'en' to identify a language?

Not if you are using RFC 5646 as the Syntax Encoding Scheme. However, use of this scheme is not mandatory so 'English' is an acceptable value if you do not use a Syntax Encoding Scheme.

When using RFC 5646 you can also use 'en-AU' to designate Australian English, 'en-GB' for British English, 'en-US' for American English and so on.

Australian English is the assumed default value if the language property is not used.

15. I have pages described with AGLS metadata from the old standard. Should I delete my old metadata?

Metadata created under the old standard (AS5044-2002) is still valid although not as precise as under the current standard. Old metadata should be upgraded to the new standard as time and resources permit. You should only delete metadata if it does not serve a useful purpose.

16. I am having difficulty implementing AGLS metadata. Where can I get help?

The National Archives is happy to assist agencies with AGLS implementation. You can contact the National Archives through the Agency Service Centre via our online form.

Copyright National Archives of Australia 2016