“One of the main areas to think about is metadata. It is important to consider this from the start. If migrating into a new EDRMS it is important that you don’t lose or corrupt metadata which could provide important context. It’s also important to think about how you are going to export metadata when moving to another EDRMS or to be preserved in a digital archive.“ 

Paul Young, The National Archives UK

Spend some time investigating the metadata that is stored alongside the records in the record keeping system. Note that it may not be immediately obvious what metadata exists - some of it may only be available to certain users, or may only be available in the back end. It is advisable to carry out some research to fully understand what is stored within the system and how you might access this. Carrying out a test export of records and their metadata may be helpful. Note that some metadata fields may not be included within a standard export - for example, an EDRMS may store a checksum for a digital object but this may be held behind the scenes and not made accessible to users. Talk to those who develop, support, configure the system to find out more about metadata and export capabilities.

Find out whether the system automates the completion of some metadata or has mandatory fields which a user must complete. If the onus is on the creator to complete certain fields, are there conventions to follow and is there compliance? Assess the accuracy of metadata and the impact of errors e.g. spelling mistakes, which may affect the accuracy of searches that you carry out when trying to discover records for export. 


The EDRMS Preservation Task Force discussed and defined a set of metadata fields  that may be captured from a record keeping system in order to preserve the records, their meaning and context. This work took as its starting point a draft minimum metadata set shared with us by Kyle Browness from Library and Archives Canada. There was discussion about whether to assign a priority rating to metadata fields (e.g. optional/recommended/mandatory) but it was recognised that different organizations working in different contexts may not require the same fields. It was agreed instead to include information on the rationale for capturing certain types of metadata, as this will help users of this resource to consider whether a field is required in their context or not. Different functionality within record keeping systems and differences in local implementation and configuration also mean a one-size-fits-all approach is not appropriate. Note too that additional factors which need to be considered in decision making include:

  • Does the record keeping system capture/store this information?

  • Can this information be extracted from the record keeping system?

  • Can this information be stored within the digital archive?

 Go to the metadata section 


Hugh Campbell from Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI) discusses their approach to metadata in this case study. He notes some of the decisions that were made about which metadata fields to keep and some challenges that have been faced, as well as sharing their metadata template.

In a talk at the EDRMS Preservation Briefing Day in May 2021, Kevin De Vorsey and Bethany Cron from NARA presented on ‘Federal Electronic Records Modernization Initiative : lessons learned in electronic records preservation’. Their presentation gave an overview of work to ensure that the records they receive from federal departments are suitable for preservation, including guidance relating to metadata (Members login to view the presentation).

Federal Electronic Records Modernization Initiative : lessons learned in electronic records preservation  - Kevin De Vorsey and Bethany Cron (NARA)

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