Academic libraries will do well to embrace metadata and the project possibilities it brings. Digital initiatives, particularly in the form of institutional repositories, help raise the profile of the academic library across campus and in the community. Metadata librarians, with an understanding of both metadata schemes and traditional cataloging, play a significant role in an academic library’s digital initiatives. Metadata librarians in academic libraries are a prime example of the 21st century librarian. This paper surveys the literature available on metadata and its implications for academic libraries. Definitions of metadata are offered. Metadata schemes are presented, including the scheme most prominently in use among academic libraries: Dublin Core. The paper examines the types of metadata projects prevalent in academic libraries, and the types of collections for which metadata is used. Implications beyond the technical aspects of metadata include organizational changes, and changes in roles and responsibilities necessary to implement projects involving the use and adoption of metadata. Also, implications for the skills set required of aspiring cataloging and metadata librarians are explored. Finally, this paper looks at the importance of undertaking metadata projects and the benefits for academic libraries in pursuing digital initiatives.