Dr Richard Gartner

No image provided

Contact details

Dr Richard Gartner
Digital Librarian
Warburg Institute
Email address:

Research Summary and Profile

Research interests:
Digital resources, Digitisation, Library
Summary of research interests and expertise:
Metadata in theory and practice

My research covers the theory and practice of metadata, particularly in digital libraries or for digital collections. One major strand of my research has been the development and application of XML schemas which fulfil the same functions as linked open data: in the past I have applied these in such diverse areas as archival description, parliamentary metadata and environmental science. I am also interested in the history of metadata, its ideological component and the ways in which it may be used to break down barriers between libraries, archives and museums.

Digital humanities

I am interested in several strands within the digital humanities, including (of course) any aspect that examines the role of metadata with it. My research here has included text encoding (for instance, to facilitate the textual analysis of large corpora), the role of metadata in ‘digital ecosystems’, and its role in integrating diverse archival collections.

Digital curation and librarianship

I am interested in all aspects of digital curation and particularly the role of the digital librarian within it. Areas of interest include the creation of digital collections, digital preservation (especially the place of metadata within this), the role of the librarian as a digital asset manager, and the contributions that digital curation can make to international librarianship. I am particularly interested in examining the continuities between traditional librarianship and its digital counterpart as well as the inevitable differences between the two.

Digital iconography

I am interested in the application of digital humanities techniques and methodologies to the discipline of iconography. In particular, my research examines how Panovsky’s second-level of iconography, the identification of iconographic subjects, may be achieved within the digital sphere by the application of machine-readable ontologies or other techniques that employ interoperable metadata to record the components that go in to making an iconographic identification.

Spoken Written
German Intermediate Intermediate
Italian Intermediate Intermediate
Latin - Good
French Intermediate Intermediate
Publication Details

Related publications/articles:

Date Details
01-Aug-2020 The Warburg Iconographic Database: from relational tables to interoperable metadata.


A discussion of the metadata strategy for the Warburg's Iconographic Database as it moves from mySql tables to more interoperable, XML-based formats. A chapter in Schuster, K. and Dunn, S. eds., 2020. Routledge International Handbook of Research Methods in Digital Humanities. Routledge.

01-Jul-2020 Intermediary XML schemas: constraint, templating and interoperability in complex environments


This article introduces the methodology of intermediary schemas for complex metadata environments. Metadata in instances conforming to these is not generally intended for dissemination but must usually be transformed by XSLT transformations to generate instances conforming to the referent schemas to which they mediate. The methodology is designed to enhance the interoperability of complex metadata within XML architectures. This methodology incorporates three subsidiary methods: these are project-specific schemas which represent constrained mediators to over-complex or over-flexible referents (Method 1), templates or conceptual maps from which instances may be generated (Method 2) and serialised maps of instances conforming to their referent schemas (Method 3). The three methods are detailed and their applications to current research in digital ecosystems, archival description and digital asset management and preservation are examined. A possible synthesis of the three is also proposed in order to enable the methodology to operate within a single schema, the Metadata Encoding and Transmission Standard (METS).

01-Sep-2019 Archives, museums and libraries: breaking the metadata silos

Conference papers

IFLA World Library and Information Congress 2019

01-Jun-2019 Towards an ontology-based iconography


Digital Scholarship in the Humanities

01-Oct-2018 Using structured text corpora in Parliamentary Metadata Language for the analysis of legislative proceedings


 This article examines the potential of employing structured texts, encoded in the Parliamentary Metadata Language XML schema, for the machine-readable analysis of substantial corpora of legislative proceedings. It demonstrates the potential of using PML corpora for combining the results of sentiment analysis with contextual metadata to establish and visualise patterns of divergent attitudes towards a topic such as immigration as they correlate with such features as party affiliation or geographic location. This is readily achieved using such simple techniques as XSLT transformations or XQUERY searches.

18-Feb-2018 Ascending the pyramid: librarians, metadata and the curation of culture

Conference papers

 Proceedings of the IEEE 5th International Symposium on Emerging Trends and Technologies in Libraries and Information Services. 2018 Bennett University, Noida: IEEE UP Section (India). pp. 294–296.

22-Aug-2016 Metadata: shaping knowledge from antiquity to the Semantic Web


This book offers a comprehensive guide to the world of metadata, from its origins in the ancient cities of the Middle East, to the Semantic Web of today.

The author takes us on a journey through the centuries-old history of metadata up to the modern world of crowdsourcing and Google, showing how metadata works and what it is made of. The author explores how it has been used ideologically and how it can never be objective. He argues how central it is to human cultures and the way they develop.

30-Jun-2015 METS as an ‘intermediary’ schema for a digital library of complex scientific multimedia


The use of the Metadata Encoding and Transmission Standard (METS) schema as a mechanism for delivering a digital library of complex scientific multimedia is examined as an alternative to the Fedora Content Model (FCM). Using METS as an 'intermediary' schema, where it functions as a template which is populated with content metadata on-the-fly using an XSLT transformation, it is possible to replicate the flexibility of structure and granularity of FCM while avoiding its complexity and often substantial demands on developers.

24-Oct-2014 Intermediary schemas and semantic linkages: an integrated architecture for complex digital archives


This article attempts to assess the feasibility of a Metadata Encoding and Transmission Standard (METS) based XML approach to integrated metadata for a complex digital archive. In particular, it aims to test whether such an approach can emulate two key features of RDF–based metadata architectures: the flexible reusability of components and the encoding of semantic linkages. In doing so, it seeks to establish whether this approach can be a viable alternative to ontology–based models for digital archive metadata.

01-Aug-2014 An XML schema for enhancing the semantic interoperability of archival description


This article outlines a new experimental schema, which allows collection descriptions to be encoded in a more interoperable manner than is possible using the EAD (Encoded Archival Description) standards. Devised for the Collaborative European Digital Archive Architecture Project, it complements the descriptive elements of a collection-level record with more semantically precise metadata components.

15-Aug-2013 Parliamentary Metadata Language: an XML approach to integrated metadata for legislative proceedings


The article discusses a new XML schema, Parliamentary Metadata Language (PML), which has been devised to integrate diversely located records of legislative proceedings. The schema is designed to integrate with preexisting standards such as MODS and METS within an XML environment. It is discussed in the context of the LIPARM (Linking Parliamentary Records through Metadata) project within which it was devised: the project has also constructed a series of controlled vocabularies, encoded in MADS, to allow semantic integration across collections, and has designed a Web-based interface to PML records created from two substantial collections.

17-Oct-2011 Intermediary schemas for complex XML applications: an example from research information management


The complexity and flexibility of some XML schemas can make their implementation difficult in working environments. This is particularly true of CERIF, a standard for the interchange of research management information, which consists of 192 interlinked XML schemas. This article examines a possible approach of using 'intermediary' XML schemas, and associated XSLT stylesheets, to make such applications easier to employ. It specifically examines the use of an intermediary schema, CERIF4REF, which was designed to allow UK Higher Education institutions to submit data for a national periodic research assessment exercise in CERIF. The wider applicability of this methodology, particularly in relation to the METS standard, is also discussed.

Research Projects & Supervisions

Research projects:

Measuring Impact under CERIF (MICE)

This project examined   the potential for encoding systematic and structured information on research impact in the context of the CERIF schema. The project built previous work on impact by producing a comprehensive set of indicators which were then mapped both to the CERIF standard and the CERIF4REF schema created by the previous Readiness for REF (R4R) project.

Linking the Parliamentary Record through Metadata (LIPARM)

The LIPARM project aimed the parliamentary record together for the first time by creating a unified metadata scheme for all of its key elements. People, bills, acts, items of business, debates, divisions and sessions are all described by the scheme and are linked together across resources which are othersie spread out and isolated/

Current PhD topics supervised:

Dates Details
From: 01-Sep-2019
How does the curatorial control of galleries, libraries, archives and museums data and the creation of metadata limits the representation and connection of communities?

This research will examine the ways in which the curatorial control of GLAM data and the creation of metadata has limited the representation and connection of communities, enforcing an inherent bias in our cultural heritage. It will investigate using crowdsourcing as an engagement tool increase the diversity of voices surrounding cultural heritage object interpretation to create a more inclusive narrative.

Available for doctoral supervision: Yes

Professional Affiliations

Professional affiliations:

Name Activity
METS Editorial Board Editorial board for metadata standard 'Metadata Encoding and Transmission Standard'
Back to top