Metadata, or "data about data," provide documentation of
spatial data, describing content, quality, condition, and other characteristics of a data
set. Well written metadata files benefit the data creators as well as data seekers and
users. Proper documentation allows data to be used appropriately and can make it
available for others to use as well. Conducting searches on metadata through
clearinghouses allows users to obtain well-documented data in a timely and cost effective way.