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Development history

The AGLS Metadata Standard (formerly known as the Australian Government Locator Service and the AGLS Metadata Element Set) had its origins in the work of the Information Management Steering Committee (IMSC), an interdepartmental committee established by the then Commonwealth Office of Government Information Technology (OGIT). The then Chief Government Information Officer, Andy McDonald, established the IMSC in 1996. Chaired by the then Deputy Director-General of the National Library, Eric Wainwright, the Committee released its report, The Management of Government Information as a National Strategic Resource, in August 1997. This report proposed frameworks for government information policy and the deployment of associated technology into the 21st century.

Development of the AGLS element set began in December 1997 with an invitational workshop held at the National Archives of Australia. The workshop brought together representatives of federal and state/territory government agencies, other interested parties such as the Federal Libraries Information Network, and the academic research community. The development objective was to produce a set of metadata elements which would improve the visibility, availability and interoperability of government information and services through the provision of standardised web-based resource descriptions which enable users to locate the information or service that they require.
From 1998, the use of AGLS spread beyond the public sector for which the standard was originally developed. The use of AGLS by various cross-sectoral web portal initiatives accelerated this process. In recognition of the wide potential adoption of AGLS within Australia, Standards Australia decided to adapt and issue AGLS as an Australian Standard. Standards Australia first issued the Standard in 2002, incorporating a set of 19 elements.

Since 1998, notions of best practice in the Semantic Web have evolved to include the assignment of formal domains and ranges in addition to definitions in natural language. Domains and ranges specify what kind of described resources and value resources are associated with a given property. These relationships can be used to support automated processes for identifying and interpreting the meanings implied in natural language (known as ‘semantic inferencing’).

The current version of the Standard takes into account changes introduced by the Dublin Core Metadata Initiative (DCMI) in January 2008. It also makes technical changes to support linked data and Semantic Web projects, recognising that the internet is no longer just a medium for publishing human-readable documents.

Today the development objective of the AGLS Working Group is to maintain a set of metadata properties to improve the visibility, availability and interoperability of information and services through the provision of standardised resource descriptions which enable users to locate the information or service that they require.

Relationship to Dublin Core

AGLS is an application profile of Dublin Core metadata standard (http://dublincore.org/). The International Organization for Standardization issued the Dublin Core Metadata Element Set (DCMES) as ISO 15836-2009. The American National Standards Institute issued the DCMES as ANSI/NISO Z39.85-2007.

AGLS is a more complex set of properties than the Dublin Core standard, containing several sub-properties enabling it to describe more categories of resources and allow richer description of resources. AGLS is entirely compatible and interoperable with Dublin Core. AGLS does not displace any other metadata standard. AGLS can coexist with other metadata standards based on different semantics.