May 17, 2022

“Digital Archiving: the Seven Pillars of Metadata” (New Blog Post from The National Archives (UK))

From The National Archives Blog:

Two of the key challenges facing The National Archives in the digital age are

  • the need to provide new ways of accessing digital archival records
  • the desire to make digital archival records available for computational analysis

As we touched upon in our recent blog post, we now need a model that describes our records as data.

When we recently attempted to model just what this metadata might be, we decided to take as detached an approach as possible, focusing on the characteristics and provenance of the metadata, rather than the perhaps-more-usual approach of categorising the metadata by its function. This was deliberate: not only can the same piece of metadata have more than one function, but in the future there may well be new functions for our metadata that we can’t even predict today. We also see this as an intrinsically archival approach to thinking about metadata. Archivists have traditionally been very interested in the provenance of their collections (i.e. where historical records come from and who created them). Now the provenance of the metadata has an equally important focus.

In our modelling so far we have identified what we are informally calling the seven pillars of metadata. We’ve labelled these: Legacy, Primary, Secondary, Supplementary, Derived, Control, and ‘Meta’.

Read the Complete Blog Post (approx. 1300 words)

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.