Metadata: Standards & Structures

Backstage is prepared to meet your library's metadata requirements from start to finish. We can serve your needs for descriptive, structural, technical, administrative, and preservation metadata, as well as full-service cataloging.

We produce and format your metadata just the way you want it.

  • Embedded or external
  • XML, text files, spreadsheets
  • MARC, Dublin Core, EAD

We are advocates of the Federal Agencies Digitization Guideline Initiative (FADGI) and its Still Image Technical Guidelines. FADGI citations below come from the document, Technical Guidelines for Digitizing Cultural Heritage Materials: Creation of Raster Image Master Files.



"Descriptive metadata refers to 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 Backstage, we can:

  • Collect data directly from the objects themselves
  • Incorporate your existing data/records
  • Create original metadata, formatted to meet your project requirements



"Structural metadata describes the relationships between different components of a digital resource. It ties the various parts of a digital resource together in order to make a useable, understandable whole. One of the primary functions of structural metadata is to enable display and navigation, usually via a page-turning application, by indicating the sequence of page images or the presence of multiple views of a multi-part item. In this sense, structural metadata is closely related to the intended behaviors of an object. Structural metadata is very much informed by how the images will be delivered to the user as well as how they will be stored in a repository system in terms of how relationships among objects are expressed.

"Most structural metadata is implemented in file naming schemes and/or in spreadsheets or databases that record the order and hierarchy of the parts of an object so that they can be identified and reassembled back into their original form."

To replicate the arrangement of the physical items, Backstage can produce an intuitive directory structure influenced by the original content. We offer telling file names that make content easy to identify or we can follow your file naming schema.

Hierarchy can be reflected:

  • In file names, using feature codes
  • In your PDFs, with bookmarks
  • In your digital asset management display
  • In the struct map in a METS file



"Technical metadata refers to information that describes attributes of the digital image (not the analog source of the image) and helps to ensure that images will be rendered accurately. It supports content preservation by providing information needed by applications to use the file and to successfully control the transformation or migration of images across or between file formats. Technical metadata also describes the image capture process and technical environment, such as hardware and software used to scan images, as well as file format-specific information, image quality, and information about the source object being scanned, which may influence scanning decisions. Technical metadata helps to ensure consistency across a large number of files by enforcing standards for their creation. At a minimum, technical metadata should capture the information necessary to render, display, and use the resource.

"For digital still images, we refer to the ANSI/NISO Z39.87 Data Dictionary — Technical Metadata for Digital Still Images available from the NISO website It is a comprehensive technical metadata set based on the Tagged Image File Format specification, and makes use of the data that is already captured in file headers."

Backstage provides technical metadata that meets the NISO Z39.78 standard. We also extract this data from the TIFF header and provide it as an external file in MIX/XML format.



"The Dublin Core set does not provide for administrative, technical, or highly structured metadata about different document types. Administrative metadata comprises both technical and preservation metadata, and is generally used for internal management of digital resources. Administrative metadata may include information about rights and reproduction or other access requirements, selection criteria or archiving policy for digital content, audit trails or logs created by a digital asset management system, persistent identifiers, methodology or documentation of the imaging process, or information about the source materials being scanned. In general, administrative metadata is informed by the local needs of the project or institution and is defined by project-specific workflows. Administrative metadata may also encompass repository-like information, such as billing information or contractual agreements for deposit of digitized resources into a repository."

Backstage can embed supplied administrative metadata into the TIFF header or include it in external forms of metadata. For example, you might have us embed your rights statement in TIFF tag ###, or you could have us include details about the source material in metadata fields for your DAM system.



"Preservation metadata encompasses all information necessary to manage and preserve digital assets over time. Preservation metadata is usually defined in the context of the OAIS reference model (Open Archival Information System, and is often linked to the functions and activities of a repository. It differs from technical metadata in that it documents processes performed over time (events or actions taken to preserve data and the outcomes of these events) as opposed to explicitly describing provenance (how a digital resource was created) or file format characteristics, but it does encompass all types of the metadata mentioned above, including rights information. Although preservation metadata draws on information recorded earlier (technical and structural metadata would be necessary to render and reassemble the resource into an understandable whole), it is most often associated with analysis of and actions performed on a resource after submission to a repository. Preservation metadata might include a record of changes to the resource, such as transformations or conversions from format to format, or indicate the nature of relationships among different resources.

"Preservation metadata is information that will assist in preservation decision-making regarding the long-term value of a digital resource and the cost of maintaining access to it, and will help to both facilitate archiving strategies for digital images as well as support and document these strategies over time. Preservation metadata is commonly linked with digital preservation strategies such as migration and emulation, as well as more "routine" system-level actions such as copying, backup, or other automated processes carried out on large numbers of objects. These strategies will rely on all types of pre-existing metadata and will also generate and record new metadata about the object. It is likely that this metadata will be both machine-processible and 'human-readable' at different levels to support repository functions as well as preservation policy decisions related to these objects.

"In its close link to repository functionality, preservation metadata may reflect or even embody the policy decisions of a repository; but these are not necessarily the same policies that apply to preservation and reformatting in a traditional context. The extent of metadata recorded about a resource will likely have an impact on future preservation options to maintain it. Current implementations of preservation metadata are repository- or institution-specific. A digital asset management system may provide some basic starter functionality for low-level preservation metadata implementation, but not to the level of a repository modeled on the OAIS."

Preservation metadata relates to what happens to the image file over time.

When Backstage is the creator of the digital file, we provide the technical and structural metadata needed to aid in long term preservation. We can also embed data provided by your institution that is important to the longevity of your files.

Most of the preservation data, however, will come from your institutional repository system. Please consult with your systems administrator.

How can Backstage help you manage your metadata? Let's talk. Call us at 1-800-288-1265 or drop us a note.