Digital Preservation Tools and Standards

Tom Worthington FACS HLM

For the course Electronic Document Management

Recordkeeping Metadata Standard for Commonwealth Agencies

... help agencies to identify, authenticate, describe and manage their electronic records in a systematic and consistent way to meet business, accountability and archival requirements. The standard is designed to be used as a reference tool by agency corporate managers, IT personnel and software vendors involved in the design, selection and implementation of electronic recordkeeping and related information management systems. It defines a basic set of 20 metadata elements (eight of which constitute a core set of mandatory metadata) and 65 sub-elements that may be incorporated within such systems, and explains how they should be applied within the Commonwealth sphere.

From: "Recordkeeping Metadata Standard for Commonwealth Agencies", Version 1.0, National Archives of Australia, 1999, URL:

Recordkeeping Metadata Standard for Commonwealth Agencies (RKMS) defines 20 elements (eight mandatory) and 65 sub-elements for the record keeping systems used by Commonwealth government agencies. It has similarities to the Australian Government Locator Service (AGLS) metadata standard, but AGLS was designed to improve the accessibility of services by the general public, but the record keeping standard is for maintaining internal information to keep the government functioning.

RKMS Elements from AGLS


Adapted from: "Recordkeeping Metadata Standard for Commonwealth Agencies", Version 1.0, National Archives of Australia, 1999, URL:

Unfortunately RKMS is not a strict superset of AGLS. Some elements map directly from AGLS. Some elements have the same names as in AGLS, but with extended definitions. Some elements have the different names from AGLS, but simialr definitions.

RKMS Elements Extending AGLS


RKMS Elements Differently Named

Element AGLS Equivalent
AGGREGATION LEVEL TYPE + Aggregation level

RKMS Elements not in AGLS



  1. System Requirements for Preserving Electronic Records

  2. Metadata Scheme

  3. Standard Electronic Record Format

  4. Long Term Preservation Formats

  5. Export of Electronic Records to PROV

From: "The Victorian Electronic Records Strategy (VERS)", 31 July, , URL:

The Public Record Office of Victoria has issued a more prescriptive standard for the management of electronic records than other Australian efforts with "Standard for the Management of Electronic Records in the Victorian Government" (VERS).

VERS uses a superset of the National Archives of Australia (NAA) Recordkeeping metadata. VERS allows multiple encoding of one document and fixes the record at the time of creation using digital signatures. This requires new metadata to be kept separate from the document, or wrapped around the original record to form a new compound record. It also assumes that a particular digital signature will be readable over a long time and that the digital signature standards used will be supported in the long term. VERS uses text, PDF and TIFF for its standard formats.

Digital Preservation Tools

On their own EDM standards are of little use to an organisation; the standards need to be implemented. In this course hand coding of XML based standards has been used as an educations tool. However, most users of electronic documents are unlikely to be willing to manually enter the needed XML codes. Software which implements the standards is needed. EDM software is commonly provided to supplement common electronic office tools, such as word processors and email, to add metadata, convert document formats and to transfer documents to and from archives.

EDM software can be free open source, such as XENA and DPR NAA and the VERS Toolkit from the State of Victoria (all of which are written in Java). Software can be a commercial proprietary product, such as TRIM Context, which is commonly used in Australian Government agencies and the US Department of Defence.


Xena converts digital documents from their original format into selected open, fully-documented formats used for archival preservation by the National Archives - bitstream and normalised. The resulting data objects are referred to as Archival Information Packages (AIPs). ...

From: Tools for digital preservation, National Archives of Australia, 7/08/2007, URL:

NAA's XML Electronic Normalising of Archives software (XENA) will create a "Bitstream" or "Normalised" version of a source document. Both versions of the document have metadata enclosed with them ("wrapped). The bitstream version retains the original format of the document and so requires a copy of compatible software to read. The normalised version is converted to a standard format for long term preservation. XENA can bitstream any electronic format and normalise common office word processing, spreadsheet, and presentation formats, email and image files.

The Victorian Government's VERS Toolkit provides similar facilities to XENA.

XENA Example

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<meta_data_wrapper_name>Default Package Wrapper</meta_data_wrapper_name>
<opendocument:opendocument xmlns:opendocument="" description="The following data is a MIME-compliant (RFC 1421) PEM base64 (RFC 1421) representation of an Open Document Format (ISO 26300, Version 1.0) document, produced by Open Office version 2.0." type="Word Processor" extension="odt">

Example Microsoft Word document conversion by XENA

In this example a Microsoft Word ".Doc" file has been converted to Open Document Format (ISO 26300, Version 1.0). The only metadata provided in the XML "wrapper" is the original file name.


The Digital Preservation Recorder (DPR) was built to record a log of the activities conducted in the treatment of digital records within the National Archives of Australia digital preservation process. It operates over three isolated servers - Quarantine, Preservation and Digital Repository. A separate DPR is attached to each server.

From: Digital Preservation Recorder, Liz McCredie, National Archives of Australia, 24 October 2005, URL:

NAA's Digital Preservation Recorder (DPR) automatically invokes XENA to convert and encapsulate files with metadata. Three copies of the DPR reside on the NAA three isolated systems for quarantine, preservation and digital archiving. The systems communicate only via the XML encoded data passed with the electronic documents, to ensure the security of the system.

TRIM Context

TRIM Context 6's records management features are designed to allows organizations to comply with or even exceed the international best practise standard for records management, ISO 15489. TRIM Context 6 is certified against the US DoD records management standard 5015.2 and has been approved by the UK National Archives against its 2002 requirements for Electronic Records Management Systems (ERMS), including the optional Document Management, Paper and Hybrid Records Management modules.

From: Records Management, Tower Software, 2007, URL:

Tower Software's TRIM product stared as standalone software for paper records management. However, it now interfaces with desktop software such as Microsoft Office, requiring the user to check documents in and out of the repository for modification. Documents can be exported to an archive, such as that of NAA, using XML metadata and record content.

More Information

Slides for these notes are also available.

Copyright © 2007 (version of 17 October 2007)Tom Worthington

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