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Metadata describes content, context and structure of records


Descriptive Metadata

Descriptive metadata describes records. This type of metadata drives the ability to search, browse, sort, and filter information. It is used to locate records. Descriptive metadata may include elements such as title, description, author, and keywords.

The National Archives and Records Administration describes it as, "information that supports discovery and identification of a resource (the who, what, when and where of a resource). It describes the content of the resource, associates various access points, and describes how the resource is related to other resources intellectually or within a hierarchy. In addition to bibliographic information, it may also describe physical attributes of the resource such as media type, dimension, and condition. Descriptive metadata is usually highly structured and often conforms to one or more standardized, published schemes, such as Dublin Core or MARC. Controlled vocabularies, thesauri, or authority files are commonly used to maintain consistency across the assignment of access points. Descriptive information is usually stored outside of the image file, often in separate catalogs or databases from technical information about the image file."

At a minimum, an E-record should include a primary identifier unique to the record, a title, creator, date of creation, record series, and publisher (department); as well as any restrictions associated with the copying, use, and distribution of the record.


Structural Metadata

This is information on the record's physical characteristics and internal organization, such as media type, data format, hardware/software needed to open the record. Structural metadata describes the relationships between different components of a digital resource. Structural metadata expresses the intellectual boundaries of complex objects and can be used to describe relationships between an object’s component parts. Structural metadata should be used when a digital resource is divisible into component parts and the components are useful in-and-of themselves. For example, a digital book may be logically structured into chapters but “physically” exist as images for each page. A chapter, which is an aggregation of page images, is considered an intellectual entity (as are the individual page images). The structural metadata should be used to reflect how those component files are logically grouped and, ultimately, how they should be perceived.


Records Management Metadata 

This type of Metadata assists in the long-term management of E-records; documents whether records are permanent/temporary, a reference copy, or frozen. Records management metadata addresses how files are managed in a system, how they are distributed, the disposition (how long the record will be retained and how will disposition be managed over time). It also addressees, when needed, security restrictions, and intellectual property rights.

RM metadata answers the questions: "who, what, where, why". Examples: WHO took the photograph? WHAT is the title of the report? WHERE was the video shot? WHY is the record marked not for public use?

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