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  Preservation Procedure Policy: Metadata: Preservation metadata
Related Guidance Policy
Definition/ Description DPC Tech Watch p. 5 describes preservation metadata as: “Metadata that supports the process of long-term digital preservation”.
The organisation should create a policy that documents what relevant information about the preservation process is to be preserved and what additional information about the preservation process is required to be kept/documented. This kind of metadata could also include metadata about rights and restrictions associated with the digital object or technical metadata.

When preserving digital material at libraries, webarchives or data centers PREMIS can be a useful metadata standard.
The PREMIS Data Dictionary  defines  preservation metadata as:
  • Supports the viability, renderability, understandability, authenticity, and identity of digital objects in a preservation context;
  • Represents the information most preservation repositories need to know to preserve digital materials over the long-term;
  • Emphasizes “implementable metadata”: rigorously defined, supported by guidelines for creation, management, and use, and oriented toward automated workflows; and
  • Embodies technical neutrality: no assumptions made about preservation technologies, strategies, metadata storage and management, etc.
Why Preservation metadata is needed to be able to understand the digital material in the long term.
Risks Not creating and preserving preservation metadata will endanger the understandability of the digital material.
Life cycle stage Description Information & Representation Information, Preservation Planning, Create or receive; Ingest; Preservation Action; Store; Transform
Stakeholder Management: defines metadata policies and the use of standards
Technology Manager: responsible for ensuring the proper systems for rendering the metadata and the digital material
Consumer: needs to be able to access and trust the metadata in order to understand the digital material
Cross Reference Authenticity
Examples  Yale University Library: “Metadata is fundamental to preserving Yale University Library's digital resources. Preservation metadata includes a number of different types of metadata: administrative (used in managing information resources including rights and permissions), technical (describing hardware and software needed to maintain an information object) and structural (identifying the relationships between objects such as part of, dependent upon that form intellectual entities.” Source:,
Control Policy
  • All preservation events MUST be recorded
  • Information on preservation events SHOULD use the PREMIS schema
  • Information on preservation event MUST include date undertaken, action and agent
Questions to foster discussions
  • Does your organisation use a formal standard for preservation metadata?
  • Has your organisation documented what information about the preservation process is to be preserved and what additional information about the preservation process is required to be created and preserved?
  • Does the metadata include information on the rights and restrictions associated with the digital collection?
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