15. Preservation metadata

In addition to descriptive, administrative and structural metadata, a set of preservation metadata is mandatory to evaluate the technical parameters of a recording and to draw appropriate conclusions for the management of preservation.

Preservation metadata should contain full details about:

  • the original carrier, its format and state of preservation.
  • replay equipment for the original carrier and its parameters.
  • the digital resolution, file format information, and all equipment used.
  • the operators involved in the process.
  • checksum – the digital signature that permits authentication of the file.
  • details of the secondary information sources.

Metadata, often described as "data about data", is, in the digital environment, a detailed and specific extension of cataloguing practice. However, when associated with digital collections, it is a necessary part of their use and control. A Preservation Metadata Set is a statement of the information that is expected to be required to manage preservation of digital collections and will supplement and incorporate the descriptive, administrative and structural metadata sets assembled for the digital collection. Preservation metadata will be a key component in the preservation and management of any digital collection and must be designed to support future preservation strategies. Metadata can be stored within the resource it describes (eg file formats that support descriptive headers), separate from the resource (eg an external catalogue) or separate but linked to the resource (eg a file linked with the digital object in a repository structure). Each strategy has particular benefits and disadvantages. It is possible, and probably desirable, to use these strategies in parallel.