Dublin Core - a class of entity for whom the resource is intended or useful


  • NSDL usage - a broad category that best describes the recipient or user for whom the resource is primarily intended
  • Field usage - recommended; use the Education Level field for further refinement and specification
  • Number of occurrences - repeat the field as necessary

Controlled vocabulary terms and definitions

Terms are in bold italics. As necessary, definitions are provided.

  • Administrator - manager of projects, people, or policy (use for: policymaker, supervisor)
  • Educator - facilitator for the acquisition of knowledge for learners (use for informal educator, K-12 teacher, peer trainer, professor, student teacher)
  • General Public - an individual in the population (adult or child) with a varied knowledge level
  • Learner - individual pursuing the acquisition of knowledge and/or skills [use for: student (all levels), special-needs learner, second-language learner, client, clinical patient]
  • Parent/Guardian - one who is responsible for or entrusted with the care of a person
  • Professional/Practitioner - individual working in the scientific, educational, or digital-library arena whose position is more application- or operations-oriented rather than research- or teaching-oriented (use for: author, curriculum designer, data specialist, developer, evaluator, instructional designer, library/media specialist, operations personnel, programmer, software engineer, clinician, operational meteorologist)
  • Researcher - individual engaged in intellectual investigation and/or experimentation to discover, interpret, and/or revise human knowledge and theory (use for: research meteorologist, research scientists, educational researcher)

Cataloging best practices

  • Use NSDL Audience terms to describe the broad category that best describes the recipient or user for whom the resource is primarily intended.
  • Use the Education Level field for further refinement and specification.
  • Reminder: Education Level, per Dublin Core convention, is a refinement of the broader Audience core element. Even so, Education Level usage is strongly recommended by NSDL given the nature of our holdings, while Audience usage is merely recommended.
  • NSDL anticipates and endorses a cataloger's decision to select Education Level field term(s) without populating an attendant Audience field, if including an Audience term would not meaningfully enrich the description of a resource. (In such cases, Education Level would implicitly identify the resource's audience as well.)
  • If applicable, use local-collection audience vocabularies alongside NSDL Audience terms to describe finer-level categories of recipients for whom the resource is intended (e.g.: Student teacher alongside Educator; Second-language student or Hearing-impaired learner alongside Learner). Put each term in its own Audience field.
  • If a resource targets multiple audiences, repeat the Audience field as appropriate.
  • However, if a resource is large, comprising a range of different elements targeting several distinct audiences (generally two or more), consider cataloging the resource as separate multiple objects (i.e., consider creating multiple metadata/catalog records).
  • When the audience is not explicitly identified by the resource itself, the cataloger may nonetheless select an NSDL Audience term if it can reasonably be divined from the resource's context and content.
  • Do not use Audience to describe education level or grade level. Use the Education Level field.

Use and resource examples

XML tips and examples

  • To enable optimum search and discovery for interface users, select terms from the NSDL controlled vocabulary.
  • When using the NSDL Audience vocabulary, indicate it in XML documents by using the 'nsdl_dc:NSDLAudience' refinement (use attribute xsi:type).
  • When using non-NSDL vocabulary terms, do not use the 'nsdl_dc:NSDLAudience' refinement in XML documents.

Using the controlled vocabulary

<dct:audience xsi:type=" nsdl_dc:NSDLAudience">Learner</dct:audience>
<dct:audience xsi:type=" nsdl_dc:NSDLAudience">Professional/Practitioner</dct:audience>

Not using controlled vocabulary

<dct:audience>Creator</dct:audience> (using own local term) 
<dct:audience>Hearing impaired student</dct:audience> (using own local term)


This controlled vocabulary was approved August 27, 2007.

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