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Richard Gartner

Digital Librarian

Research Interests: Metadata in theory and practice | Digital humanities | Digital curation and librarianship | Digital iconography


Richard has worked as both a practising librarian and an academic throughout his career and combines both functions to this day. He served for sixteen years as the Pearson New Media Librarian at the Bodleian Library, Oxford, where he was responsible for the Library's first digitisation projects, the introduction of the Internet into the library and its first CD-ROM networks. He followed this by six years as a lecturer in the Department of Digital Humanities at King’s College London before joining the Warburg as its first Digital Librarian.

His primary research is in the theory and practice of metadata, particularly in digital libraries.


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.


Richard teaches in the Term 2 module Curating Renaissance Art and Exhibitions in which he covers digital curation in theory and practice and introduces students to the system on which they create a virtual exhibition as part of their assessment.

In term 3, Richard supervises dissertations which have overlap with his research expertise.

PhD Supervision

Jessica BrodeFrank, Dissertation topic on the extent to which the curatorial control of galleries, libraries, archives and museums data and the creation of metadata limits the representation and connection of communities – title yet to be finalised

Key publications


Gartner, R (2016) Metadata: shaping knowledge from antiquity to the Semantic Web. Berlin: Springer.

Lavoie, B. & Gartner, R. (2013) Preservation metadata (2nd edn.). Digital Preservation Coalition [online]. Available from: (Accessed 31 July 2013).


Gartner, R. (2019) Towards an ontology-based iconography. Digital Scholarship in the Humanities, [online]. 

Gartner, R. (2018) Using structured text corpora in Parliamentary Metadata Language for the analysis of legislative proceedings. Digital Humanities Quarterly. 12 (2), [online].

Gartner, R. (2015) An XML schema for enhancing the semantic interoperability of archival description. Archival Science. 15 (3), 295-313.

Gartner, R. (2014) Intermediary schemas and semantic linkages: an integrated architecture for complex digital archives. International Journal of Metadata, Semantics and Ontologies. 9 (4), 289-298.

Gartner, R. (2013) Parliamentary Metadata Language: an XML approach to integrated metadata for legislative proceedings. Journal of Library Metadata. 13 (1), 17–35.

Gartner, R. et al. (2013) A CERIF-based schema for encoding research impact. The Electronic Library.31 (4), 465-482.

Conference Papers

Gartner, R. & Mouren, R. (2019) ‘Archives, museums and libraries: breaking the metadata silos’, in 28 August 2019 Athens. [online]. (Accessed 9 October 2019).

Gartner, R. (2018) ‘Ascending the pyramid: librarians, metadata and the curation of culture’, in 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.