DLF AIG MWG Metadata Assessment Toolkit

Metadata Assessment Framework and Guidance

This framework was developed in 2017 and draws upon the environmental scan work and use cases collected during 2016.


A high-level framework for assessing descriptive metadata in digital collections.


A digital object can be rendered almost useless by insufficient metadata. The inability to comprehensively or consistently assess digital collections at scale causes significant risks. These risks include the inability to: plan for budgeting, resources, physical or virtual storage space; strategically move towards providing access; understand where weak spots in practices are; plan or enforce sustainability; or develop pathways for migration.[1] All of these threaten our ability to create and preserve accessible digital materials now and in the future.

This framework provides guidance for a general path to assessment, one intended to mitigate the risks described above and increase accountability through descriptive metadata assessment. Each section aims to provide clear, actionable steps towards assessing and interpreting your digital collections. This document is agnostic as to the types of digital collections resources, both in terms of the digital files themselves (born digital resources or digitized surrogates of physical objects), as well as the intellectual content of the resources (for example, digital special collections or scholarly publications). The framework is designed to be accessible and easy to understand by expressing complex ideas and strategies in plain language, and providing a Glossary for specific terminology or jargon.

Potential users

Potential users are individuals responsible for managing, maintaining, or analyzing digital collections across a wide range of collection types, institutions, and communities. Metadata librarians, archivists, preservation specialists, technologists and developers, catalogers, and taxonomy/information management professionals are examples of the roles held by potential consumers of this framework.

[1] Recommended resource: "Technical Debt as an Indicator of Library Metadata Quality."