Call for Proposals - Special Issue: Metadata as Knowledge


Stacy Allison-Cassin, PhD, Assistant Professor, Teaching Stream, Faculty of Information, University of Toronto

Dean Seeman, Head, Metadata, University of Victoria Libraries

Metadata plays a powerful role in our lives. It describes, tracks, and annotates all manner of things including resources, websites, products, communication, and even people. Metadata governs the circulation of information and has the power to name, broadcast, normalize, oppress, and exclude. Although rarely an object of notice or scrutiny by its users, metadata nevertheless acts as knowledge. In its role as comment or surrogate it carries substantial weight, depth, and power.

Metadata can also function separately from the thing it describes and become knowledge in its own right. On a macro scale, aggregations of metadata about resources – catalogues, bibliographies, and datasets – can function as bodies of knowledge. On a micro scale, technologies such as linked open data break metadata down into discrete statements that can be extracted from their original purpose and re-used elsewhere in a variety of unexpected ways in order for new connections to be made and new knowledge created. Open knowledge projects such as Wikidata offer a platform for metadata to be converted to, or function as, knowledge. These technologies and platforms allow for a flow of information between metadata and community-created knowledge in which each enhances the other’s environments with additional knowledge and, less desirably, mirrors their biases. 

This special issue of KULA takes up the critical relationship between metadata and knowledge: how metadata acts as knowledge in its descriptive role; metadata as knowledge abstracted and transformed from its original purpose; and the role of open knowledge projects to facilitate this transformation.

We encourage submissions on a wide range of work, projects, and ideas in relation to metadata and knowledge including, but not limited to, the following:

  • How metadata functions as knowledge and/or creates meaning
  • The use of linked open data to facilitate the interaction between metadata and bodies of knowledge
  • Critiques of metadata and what is “knowable”
  • The role of metadata and open knowledge in addressing, or not addressing, issues of under- and misrepresentation of traditionally marginalized groups and knowledge
  • The role of metadata and open knowledge projects in addressing human rights issues and inequality
  • The creation of tools and technologies that allow metadata and open knowledge platform data to interact and flow into one another
  • Open knowledge projects that re-purpose metadata created elsewhere
  • Cultural heritage organization (libraries, archives, galleries, and museums) and academic projects that contribute to or leverage open knowledge platforms such as Wikidata
  • Reports of practical and technical elements of the contribution and reception of open and community-contributed knowledge in cultural heritage organization and academic project metadata

We are seeking contributions in diverse formats: short- to medium-length scholarly articles; project or technical reports; and creative (visual and/or audio) representations of projects or ongoing work. Please submit abstracts of 300-500 words through the journal’s website at by January 31, 2021. Based on these abstracts, we will then invite authors to submit full pieces for editorial consideration and, if applicable, peer review.

KULA is an open-access journal requiring no author publication charges (APCs). Authors retain full copyright to their works, which will be published under a Creative Commons license.

Please submit abstracts under the section "Abstracts for Special Issues":