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Minnesota Recordkeeping Metadata Standard: Format Element

13. FORMAT

Definition: The logical form (content medium and data format) and physical form (storage medium and extent) of the record.
Purpose:

To serve as a management tool for the control, storage, and preservation of records over time.

To provide information, or pointers to information, on the technology required for access to the various kinds of electronic records held by an agency.

To act as an access point for recordkeeping professionals and other users.

Rationale: It is essential that information about media and data formats and storage media be kept so that appropriate preservation and storage strategies are put in place for records of long-term value.
Obligation: Optional, but strongly recommended when there are preservation management issues.
Applicability: Generally applicable at record level only. Could be applicable at record series level if all items associated with the series are of the same format.
Use Conditions:

This element is intended to provide information on which preservation strategies will be based. Therefore, only minimal details about format and medium need to be kept for records of short-term temporary value. Such records are unlikely to ever require any kind of preservation action.

If used, information in this element needs to be updated whenever a record is migrated from one format to another or moved to a new medium.

It is recommended that this element be used in conjunction with element 17. PRESERVATION HISTORY. Selection of many of the Assigned Values under sub-element 17.2 Action Type should result in new details being written to this element (see Conditions under each FORMAT sub-element for specific information). The old details should be moved to element 17. PRESERVATION HISTORY, sub-element 17.3 Action Description.

This element shall be linked to elements 12. AGGREGATION LEVEL and 14. RECORD IDENTIFIER.

Repeatable: No

Sub-Elements

(Name,
Obligation,
Schemes):

Name Obligation Schemes
13.1 Content Medium Mandatory Minnesota Recordkeeping Metadata Standard, IMT (Internet Media Types), generic file format listings, agency-defined schemes
13.2 Data Format Mandatory Minnesota Recordkeeping Metadata Standard, IMT (Internet Media Types), ISO standards, agency-defined schemes
13.3 Storage Medium Mandatory Minnesota Recordkeeping Metadata Standard, ISO standards, agency-defined schemes
13.4 Extent Optional Agency-defined schemes
Comments: The sub-elements shall always reflect the record's current status with regard to format and medium.

13.1 CONTENT MEDIUM

Definition: The generic format of the information comprising the record.
Purpose:

To provide general information about the format of the record.

To enable searching on all records of a particular generic content format.

To facilitate preservation and storage management.

For preservation management purposes, to provide a general indication of the kind of preservation action the record will require.

To enable movement of records from one medium or location to another based on their generic format so records of like format can be stored together.

Obligation: Mandatory
Use Conditions: Shall be used in conjunction with sub-element 13.2 Data Format to determine precise requirements for rendering the record or to determine specific preservation strategies.

Assigned Values:

(Value Name,
Definition)

Value Name Definition
Audio: Sound only.
Compound:

A resource comprising one or more other resources which are linked together in some way to form a single object (e.g., HTML documents with embedded graphics or video clips, or e-mail messages with word-processed documents attached). The Content Medium and Data Formats of the individual resources comprising the object may be the same or different.

If the Data Formats of the resources comprising the object are the same, then the Assigned Value can also include the generic Media Format (e.g., if the object comprises several linked SGML documents, the Assigned Value could be 'Compound (Text)').

Image: A graphical representation of an object (including a textual object).
Text: A textual document.
Video: Moving images or pictures.
Default Value: Text
Repeatable: No
Assigned By: System-assigned or manually entered by an authorized agent.
Schemes: Minnesota Recordkeeping Metadata Standard, IMT (Internet Media Types), generic file format listings, agency-defined schemes.
Comments: Further assigned values for Content Medium may be added over time as formats evolve.

13.2 DATA FORMAT

Definition:

The logical format of the data that comprises the record.

The (often proprietary) file format of the record, usually denoted by the record's file extension.

Purpose:

To provide specific information on which decisions about the storage, preservation and rendering of records can be made.

To enable searching on records of a particular data format for management or resource discovery purposes.

To facilitate preservation and storage management.

To enable movement of records from one medium or location to another based on their particular data format, so that records of the same data format can be managed together, migrated at the same time, etc.

Obligation: Mandatory
Use Conditions:

This element may be used in conjunction with sub-element 13.4 Extent to provide full information on the format and size of the record.

It is recommended that this sub-element be used in conjunction with element 17. PRESERVATION HISTORY, sub-element 17.2 Action Type, Assigned Values “Compressed”, “Imaged”, “Microfilmed” and “Converted”. The use of any of the above listed Action Types should result in the old Data Format details being moved to sub-element 17.3 Action Description and the new details being written to this sub-element.

Assigned Values:

(Value Name,
Definition)

Value Name Definition
ASCII text: Plain text (non-proprietary).
Audio Visual Interleave (AVI): Microsoft proprietary audiovisual file format.
Bitmapped Graphics Format (BMP): A graphics format.
Braille: A system of writing for the blind that uses characters made up of raised dots.
Graphics Image File Format (GIFF): A proprietary graphics format.
Hypertext Markup Language (HTML): A format for marking up and linking text.
Joint Photographic Experts Group (JPEG): A graphics format.
Moving Picture Experts Group (MPEG): A video format.
Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions (MIME): A compound format which enables the embedding of documents of various data formats into an email message.
Portable Document Format (PDF): Adobe proprietary image format, often used for imaging text.
Real Audio (RA): An audio format.
Rich Text Format (RTF): ASCII text with formatting commands.
Tagged Image File Format (TIFF): A graphics format.
Word: Microsoft proprietary word processing file format.
Not applicable: Use for paper, audiotape, videotape.
Default Value: -
Repeatable: Yes, in the case of a compound record.
Assigned By: System-assigned.
Schemes: Minnesota Recordkeeping Metadata Standard, IMT (Internet Media Types), ISO standards, agency-defined schemes.
Comments:

This sub-element has many possible values and may be extended as needed by agencies. The above assigned values are only meant to provide representative samples.

Agencies may choose to include version information as part of their Assigned Values for this sub-element.

Agencies will need to work with vendors to ensure that the values they require, based on the particular data formats with which they work on a day-to-day basis, are included in their recordkeeping systems.

This sub-element is not intended to include detailed technical specifications of the data format. Such information is often available elsewhere and, in situations where the information will be needed (e.g., to make a decision about migration strategies), it is suggested that links be provided from the values in this sub-element to relevant technical descriptions.

Technical descriptions should include information about the software required to read the data format and the hardware platform required to run the software. Such descriptions should also specify the types of linking or embedding used in particular kinds of compound or multimedia documents, such as e-mail messages with attachments or web pages containing text, video, sound, and links to other pages.

13.3 STORAGE MEDIUM

Definition: The device on which a record is physically stored.
Purpose:

To keep track of how and where a record is stored.

To provide information about the capacity or physical size limitations of a storage medium.

To enable forward planning for preservation actions such as the refreshing of records from one medium to another.

To facilitate the development of effective strategies for the continued storage and preservation of records.

To enable the informed selection of a storage medium for large or small numbers of records, records with large file sizes, or records which are frequently accessed.

Obligation: Mandatory
Use Conditions:

While an item shall only be stored as 'the record' in one place, it may be copied to another medium for preservation purposes.

It is recommended that this sub-element be used in conjunction with element 17. PRESERVATION HISTORY, sub-element 17.2 Action Type, Assigned Values 'Backed Up', 'Medium Refreshed', 'Microfilmed', 'Migrated' or 'Moved Offline'. The use of any of the above listed Action Types should result in the old Medium details being moved to sub-element 17.3 Action Description and the new details being written to this sub-element.

Assigned Values:

(Value Name,
Definition)

Value Name Definition
Audiotape: Magnetic tape for storing sound.
CD-R: Recordable Compact Disc—an optical storage medium which can be written to once only.
DAT: Digital Audio Tape—A digital magnetic tape medium.
Diskette: A removable magnetic computer disk, with limited storage capacity.
DVD: Digital Audio Tape—a CD-ROM format intended to have full read/write capabilities.
Hard disk: A fixed computer disk.
JAZ drive: A removable disk drive.
Magnetic tape: A magnetic medium.
Microfilm: A film in roll form (16 or 35mm in width) which is used for storing reduced-size images of text and graphics.
Paper: -
USB drive: A removable, portable storage device.
Videotape: Magnetic tape for storing moving pictures and sound.
WORM: Write Once Read Many—an optical disk drive which, once written to, becomes read-only.
ZIP drive: A removable, portable disk drive.
Default Value: -
Repeatable?: Yes, in the case of a compound record
Assigned By?: System-assigned. Changes to the default value should be selected by an authorized agent from a pick list of assigned values.
Schemes: Minnesota Recordkeeping Metadata Standard, ISO standards, agency-defined schemes.
Comments:

Well-managed storage and preservation operations facilitate the efficient location and retrieval of records and ensure continued access to valuable records over time.

This sub-element has many possible values; the above assigned ones are only meant to provide representative samples. Further assigned values for Storage Medium may be added to meet agency requirements, both now and over time as new storage media and new storage media formats emerge.

13.4 EXTENT

Definition: The physical size of the record.
Purpose:

To provide information about the size of the record and the amount of storage space (either physical or electronic) that it requires.

To enable the informed selection of a storage medium for large or small numbers of records, records with large file sizes, or records which are frequently accessed.

Obligation: Optional
Use Conditions: If used, this sub-element should be linked to sub-element 13.2 Data Format and updated as necessary whenever records are converted to new formats (element 17. PRESERVATION HISTORY, sub-element 17.2 Action Type, Assigned Value "Converted"). The old values for this sub-element should be moved, along with the old Data Format values, to element 17. PRESERVATION HISTORY, sub-element 17.3 Action Description.
Assigned Values: -
Default Value: -
Repeatable: Yes, if the record is in the Content Medium 'Compound'.
Assigned By: For electronic records, the value should be system-assigned. The value for hard copy records (on paper, microfilm, etc.) will need to be manually entered, or selected from a pick list of defined values by an authorized agent.
Schemes: Agency-defined schemes
Comments: -

FORMAT Examples

13.1 Content Medium Compound
13.2 Data Format HTML
13.2 Data Format JPEG
13.3 Storage Medium Hard disk

13.1 Content Medium Text
13.2 Data Format Microsoft Word 2000
13.3 Storage Medium CD-R
13.4 Extent 1.26 Mb

 Minnesota Recordkeeping Metadata Standard: Version 1.2, April 2003.


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