Metadata is central to how users find and interact with the resources in a ResourceSpace system. It is the labels by which they will search and also the way Administrators will determine the level of access they will have to those resources once found.
While a traditional folder method of classifying assets works for resources which you know will appear in one given folder, suppose that resource could also belong in another, where best to place it? With metadata tagging there is no need to classify a resource by one means, it can be found based on any of the information contained within it.
Take the example of the Elephant, while one person may file it under "Animals", another may file it under "Africa", leaving users having to check both locations to find what they need. With ResourceSpace, a simple search for either term or even "Elephant" itself will give the user the image they are looking for.
Using metadata and tagging means resources can be found a lot more quickly. It makes navigating through resources more granular because you can run a search using multiple parameters.
ResourceSpace doesn't use folders, it uses collections which work similarly to bookmarks. You can group resources together based on what they have in common - projects and events, for example, but the resources that reside in them will still exist outside of the collections as their own entity.
Using collections to search isn't always a good idea as it can still involve users having to scroll through a large number of resources to find what they're looking for.
See also Fixed list metadata.