Optimal Readiness

Optimal readiness involves remediating and enhancing metadata prior to the preparation of a Submission Information Package (SIP) for preservation. It also may involve the use of METS or other schemas that embed the metadata with the content it describes.

For those institutions that have generated METS and/or PREMIS metadata associated with their digital newspapers at or after the time of creation, metadata may be either directly incorporated into those extensible schemas or at the very least should be pointing to the locations where the various associated metadata resides. If the metadata is held within the METS and/or PREMIS records, these records should be retained in their proper locations in relationship to the collection files. Depending on the degree of connection between referenced metadata records and the collection data, efforts may be needed to retrieve the external records, store them logically alongside the collection data, and ensure that the identifier linkages to that data are accurate.

To extend the optimal practices suggested above to born-digital newspapers, a similar situation could arise when dealing with HTML-encoded metadata for digital newspapers. For example, it may be worthwhile to pause before packaging and transferring web files to make sure that any <meta> tags are well-formed and that information will not be lost due to invalid HTML. Similarly, it can be helpful to make note of the use of any <pre> tags that may be used to display information—an element that is presumably not supported in upcoming versions of HTML (e.g., HTML5). Perhaps this metadata, because it is subject to a wide range of browser support dependencies, should be extracted and saved as separate records.

Institutions with available time and expertise to consolidate and enrich their metadata should make use of the most open, lightweight, and proven tools and make every effort to automate the process. The end goal is to create a series of digital newspaper objects with adequate technical, administrative, and—where necessary—structural metadata. Using some of the tools mentioned above, institutions can record information about file formats (technical) and the applications that created them (administrative). They can combine this information with the descriptive metadata in METS records—perhaps even leveraging the METS structural elements (and METS-ALTO where applicable) as well as incorporating checksums (see Section 4: “Checksum Management for Digital Newspapers”). Institutions should also consider using PREMIS to wrap their METS records and record on-going preservation-oriented activities.