Introduction and Specifications

The Europeana Data Model (EDM) is an interoperable framework that allows to collect, connect and enrich cultural heritage metadata and was developed alongside the Europeana initiative for cultural heritage. The Europeana community offers various different learning materials for working with EDM and your own data.

EDM was created because of the issues observed with the former flat ESE-Model and provides more expressivity and flexibility. The standard specializes on a rather cross-domain approach where different collections and media types are welcome. For this reason, many deeply structured metadata standards such as LIDO, METS and EAD can be transferred to EDM without any problems.

The most important feature of EDM is the distinction between the intellectual and the technical creation as well as the actual object and its digital representations. Each cultural object is seen as an “aggregation”, which as a separate class represents the link between the actual object and the digital representations. For the description of the objects, either an object-centered or an event-centered approach can be chosen in EDM, depending on the specific needs.

Due to its interoperable and cross-standard properties, EDM works with numerous namespaces:

EDM implements the concept of classes and properties according to RDF fundamentals. The classes are divided into three “core classes” building the basis of the record and the “contextual classes”, which can be associated with the former.

Core Classes:

Contextual Classes:

  • edm:ProvidedCHO (describing the real object)
  • edm:WebResource (describing the digital representation)
  • edm:Aggregation (descibing the combination of the upper two)
  • edm:Agent (who)
  • edm:Place (where)
  • edm:TimeSpan (when)
  • skos:Concept (what)
  • cc:License (access and usage)
Connection between the three core classes (Source: EDM Primer, p. 10)

The interesting thing about EDM is that there are no specifications or rules for modeling data in a particular way. It offers a lot of room for your own project-specific approach. Europeana provides enough information about the process of modeling and sharing your data through EDM assisting cultural institutions to follow their recommendations for a joint cultural heritage space.

An important topic concerning EDM and metadata standards in general is semantic enrichment through Linked Open Data (LOD). Semantic enrichment is about giving your data an unambiguous identifier that is accessible and findable in the Web. By referencing this identifier, which leads to more information about a person, a place or a concept, your data gets richer and highly interoperable as a part of the Semantic Web. Europeana uses and accepts several open datasets and vocabularies (e.g. AAT) for enriching metadata. The following codebox shows a semantically enriched element in EDM, leading to a GND entry about the behavioral scientist Konrad Lorenz:

<dc:creator rdf:resource=""/>

Additional Material

As mentioned above, Europeana offers various different learning materials and application profiles for their standard. Here are some useful links:

Mandatory Fields for Europeana

(1) dc:description(7) dcterms:spatial
(2) dc:language(8) dcterms:temporal
(3) dc:subject(9) edm:type
(4) dc:title(10) edm:dataProvider
(5) dc:type(11) edm:isShownAt
(6) edm:rights(12) edm:isShownBy

Recommended Fields for Europeana

(1) dc:creator(4) dc:identifier
(2) dcterms:created(5) edm:object
(3) dc:publisher