We prefer the general concept of resource description over the more specialized ones of bibliographic description and metadata because it makes it easier to see the issues that cut across the domains where those terms dominate. In addition, it enables us to propose more standard process that we can apply broadly to the use of resource descriptions in organizing systems. A shared vocabulary enables the sharing of lessons and best practices.
The process of describing resources involves several interdependent and iterative steps. We begin with a generic summary of the process to set the stage for a detailed step-by-step discussion.
Identifying resources to describe is the first step; this topic is covered in detail in §3.3, “Resource Identity”. The resource domain and scope circumscribe the describable properties and the possible purposes that descriptions might serve. The resource focus determines which are primary information resources and which ones are treated as the corresponding resource descriptions. Two important decisions at this stage are granularity of description—are we describing individual resources or collections of them?—and the abstraction level—are we describing resource instances, parts of them, or resource types?
Generally, the purpose of resource description is to support the activities common to all organizing systems: selecting, organizing, interacting with, and maintaining resources, as we saw in Chapter 2. The particular ...