This section of DPC RAM focuses on the metadata that is needed to preserve and provide access to digital content. It includes technical metadata on file formats and dependencies that will aid preservation decisions, metadata that demonstrates the authenticity of the content, and metadata that helps users to find and understand the content.

When we decided to adopt the PREMIS metadata standard this was a really good step for the organization as it allowed us not only to gather the appropriate metadata but to continue to develop metadata over time in a structured way.” - Nicola Steele, Grosvenor Estates

TipsRam with a lightbulb above head

  • Creating a digital asset register can be a really helpful step for gaining greater intellectual control of your digital holdings. It may be that digital content is stored in multiple different places or that you have a backlog of content that hasn’t yet been processed. Completing a digital asset register will allow you to gain better understanding and control over the size and scale of your holdings.

  • Ensure your digital asset register works for you. Does it include all the information you need? Is it complete or is there patchy coverage? 

  • Don’t underestimate the importance of metadata about copyright, licencing and accessibility. It is hard to do anything with digital content if this information isn’t clear and easy to understand - both for staff and for users.

  • Ensure that you have clear guidelines on creating and updating metadata and that this information is accessible to those who need to use it.

  • Communicate with developers or third parties who provide systems for storing and surfacing metadata - ensure you pass on feedback and requirements in order to make sure systems are developing in a direction useful for you.

  • Enhancing and improving metadata is time consuming and it can be a challenge to get any additional funding for it. However, it is very much worth the effort. Investing time in this opens up opportunities to do more exciting things with digital content in the future.

  • Do not see metadata enhancement as an isolated exercise - find ways to use the improved metadata (for example facilitating better reporting, better preservation planning, better access and discovery) to demonstrate that it was time well spent.

  • Consider recording any physical locations in the local language(s) and be aware of any relevant Indigenous terminologies or community-specific language.

  • Noting where material has restrictions on access at all levels of metadata will help mitigate the risk of inappropriate disclosure.

Helpful resources

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