During the last two years, we published both NARA Bulletin 2015-04: Metadata Guidance for the Transfer of Permanent Electronic Records and NARA Bulletin 2014-04: Revised Format Guidance for the Transfer of Permanent Electronic Records. These Bulletins are related and complement each other. Following this guidance ensures permanent electronic records transferred to NARA will remain sustainable for as long as they are needed.
These Bulletins complete a specific requirement in the Managing Government Records Directive (M-12-18). The Directive required us to provide revised guidance, including metadata requirements, for transferring permanent electronic records to NARA. Bulletin 2014-04 provides guidance specifying–by record type–which file formats are acceptable for use when transferring permanent electronic records. Bulletin 2015-04 describes metadata elements that must accompany each file in a transfer so that they can be processed, described, and made available.
Metadata for permanent electronic records should be recorded in a records management application, a database, or a spreadsheet, and maintained along with the described records. When records are prepared for transfer, the metadata should be captured in a pipe delimited Comma Separated Values (CSV) file. CSV files are a platform-independent format which stores table-based data as plain text and use the pipe character ( | ) as a delimiter that allows a computer to distinguish between the different fields.
Metadata can also be embedded within a file, as is the case when it is recorded in the properties section of a Microsoft Word document or the IPTC fields of a JPEG image file and this embedded metadata will transfer automatically with the file. However, many formats support only a very limited number of embedded metadata fields and support for specific fields is inconsistent between formats. Therefore, we require that metadata for permanent records be transferred in a CSV file to ensure that the required metadata elements are captured for all files in a transfer.
A sample CSV file is available here. Please note that CSV files are a form of structured text that is best viewed with a text editor. Spreadsheet applications such as Microsoft Excel may require that the sample CSV file be imported and the delimiters specified before it will display correctly.
If you have any questions please contact ACPS at firstname.lastname@example.org.