Multimedia is digital data found in a variety of formats, including text, pictures, graphs, images, videos, animations, sound, music, and speech (Baeza-Yates & Ribeiro-Neto, 2011). XML is a mark-up language used by libraries to allow retrieval of multimedia data. XML allows the creation and formatting of document markups. It allows structured data to be put into a text file, thus allowing easier information retrieval. In simplest form, it allows the use of tags or other modifiers to provide information about the data presented. These tags or modifiers “tell a computer how to display, recognize, or otherwise work with the marked material.” Electronic publishing is one area that may find great benefits in the use of XML (Exner & Turner, 1998).

XML offers tremendous flexibility because the tags or modifiers “can be read and processed correctly by any web browser no matter what computer system of software was used to create them” as long as certain rules are followed (Miller & Clark, 2004). This means authors and publishers, using XML specifications, can create their own tags or modifiers to describe and organize their own content. XML applications can be classified according to what they can accomplish. These accomplishments include:
• Edit XML documents
• Transform XML documents
• Display of mark-up information in a user-friendly manner
• Store and index XML
• A combination of the above!

Seven applications of the use of XML in libraries include in library catalog records, interlibrary loan, cataloging and indexing, collection building, databases, data migration, and systems interoperability (Holbooks, 2004).

In the article, How Does XML Help Libraries?, we were provided more specific information of the various ways libraries are using XML. ( Some of the ways libraries are using XML include:
• To simplify interlibrary loan processing
• To enhance digital collections
• To develop a method for encoding archival materials, thus improving access to those materials
• To provide access to subscription databases, digital collections, materials requested via interlibrary loan, and library catalogs that run in a combination of commercial, open source, and locally developed platforms

A list of free XML tools and software can be found at

Several research projects used XML as their document tag language. These projects were the Digital Libraries Initiative (DLI) Project at the University of Illinois and the Libraries Special Collections Project at North Carolina State University (Kim & Choi, 2000).


Baeza-Yates, R., & Ribeiro-Neto, B. (2011). Modern information retrieval: The concepts and technology behind search (2nd ed.). Harlow, England: Pearson Education.
Exner, N., & Tuner, L.F. (1998). Examining XML: New concepts and possibilities in web authoring. Computers in Libraries, 18(10), 50-53.
Holbrooks, Z. (2004). Book reviews. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 55(14), 1304-1305.
Kim, H., & Choi, C. (2000). XML: how it will be applied to digital library systems. Electronic Library, 18(3), 183-189.
Miller, D.R., & Clark, K.S. Putting XML to Work in the Library: Tools for Improving Access and Management. Chicago, IL: American Library Association.