DUBLIN, Ohio, March 13, 2001--Collaborative efforts between the Research Libraries Group and OCLC Online Computer Library Center have produced a report identifying common goals and approaches to digital preservation metadata.
Preservation Metadata for Digital Objects: A Review of the State of the Art (PDF) is a 50-page white paper published by the OCLC/RLG Working Group on Preservation Metadata. The white paper can be found at the Digital Preservation Commons.
The objective of this international working group is to develop a comprehensive metadata framework applicable to a broad range of digital preservation activity. The paper shares the group's early thinking and exploration with a view to developing the necessary consensus among stakeholders.
"The effectiveness of digital preservation will ultimately depend in large part on the ability of information managers to achieve consensus on standards and best practices relating to the long-term retention of digital objects," the group points out. "In a sense, metadata 'bootstraps' the preservation process, in that it specifies the information necessary to carry a digital object forward over the long term. … The development of a consensus on preservation metadata, even at a high level, would represent an important contribution toward the establishment of reliable, interoperable digital archival repositories."
The scope of the white paper includes:
- Definition and illustration of preservation metadata for digital objects
- High-level requirements for a broadly applicable, comprehensive preservation metadata framework
- The Open Archival Information System (OAIS) reference model, a potential starting point for developing the preservation metadata framework
- Review and synthesis of existing preservation metadata approaches, including the work of NEDLIB (the Networked European Deposit Library), the CEDARS project (CURL Exemplars in Digital Archives), the National Library of Australia, and others
- Identification of points of convergence/divergence among existing approaches
"We have reached a milestone with this review," said Meg Bellinger, head of OCLC's new Digital Collection Management and Preservation business unit and president of Preservation Resources. "By the end of the year we will have built consensus about this type of metadata and be addressing metadata elements and implementation strategies."
RLG program officer Robin Dale agreed: "The group will continue to work to complete its assigned tasks, but this is a big step forward. Having the paper available on the web for public comment is a real boost to consensus building."
In March 2000, a planning group composed of representatives from the OCLC Office of Research, RLG and Preservation Resources began discussing ways to collaboratively create infrastructures for digital archiving as well as establish best practices and approaches for descriptive and management metadata needed in long-term retention of digital documents.
For more information, contact Meg Bellinger, president, Preservation Resources, OCLC, or Robin Dale, RLG program officer.
Headquartered in Mountain View, California, RLG is a not-for-profit membership corporation of over 160 universities, national libraries, archives, historical societies and other institutions with remarkable collections for research and learning. In addition to a range of collaborative activities that address members' shared goals for these collections, RLG develops and operates databases and software to serve the information needs of member and nonmember institutions and individuals around the world.