Government of Canada Records Management Metadata Standard - formatMedium
[To be actioned by Treasury Board of Canada, Secretariat before publication]
The material or physical carrier of the data.
To facilitate the development of effective strategies for the continued storage and maintenance of records (e.g. forward planning for maintenance actions such as the refreshing of records from one medium to another).
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.
Well-managed storage and preservation operations facilitate the efficient location and retrieval of records and ensure continued access to valuable records over time.
"Records should be stored on media that ensure their useability, reliability, authenticity and preservation for as long as they are needed." ISO International Standard 15489-1, s. 9.6
"As well as the content, the record should contain, or be persistently linked to, or associated with, the metadata necessary to document a transaction, as follows:
a) the structure of a record, that is, its format and the relationships between the elements comprising the record, should remain intact…" ISO International Standard 15489-1, s. 7.2.1
"Systems for electronic records should be designed so that records will remain accessible, authentic, reliable and useable through any kind of system change, for the entire period of their retention. This may include migration to different software, re-presentation in emulation formats or any other future ways of re-presenting records." ISO International Standard 15489-1, s. 9.6
"Key elements of structural and storage metadata, such as format and key technical dependencies, should be identified and documented at the point of record capture in order to ensure that the record's accessibility can be maintained as long as required for business or other needs and to facilitate long-term preservation and management." ISO Technical Specification 23081-1, s. 9.2.1
"In order to define the content of the record or any aggregation, its logical and physical structure and its technical attributes, and in order to document the relationships that records may have between each other, metadata about the record should …
c) document record structure, …
f) document record technical characteristics and dependencies,
g) document the relationship between the data or format elements that comprise the record …
i) enable migration to different software,
j) facilitate re-presentation through emulation,
k) initiate data and format management activities to protect against media deterioration…" ISO Technical Specification 23081-1, s. 9.2.1
"Records of current and previous structural metadata, such as format and key technical dependencies, will continue to be applied to ensure the record's accessibility is maintained through time." ISO Technical Specification 23081-1, s. 9.2.2
Enumerated strings of text representing mediums.
Applicable at record level only.
Mandatory at record level.
Container; Location; Event Type
Conditions of Application - Record
Text, based on encoding scheme
Pre Record Declared Locked
Post Record Declared Locked
Yes, by authorized official only.
Conditions of Application - File
Comments and Guidance
a) Explanation of Definition/Usage
Knowing the medium (the physical carrier of a record) is an important factor in planning migration and storage strategies. A record may be backed up from time to time onto a different medium to improve access to information. Any changes to the medium for a stored record must be recorded in the management and event history log.
Combined with the information found within the elements Data Format and Format Extent, a complete picture should be available of the size and scope of the record at least in terms of how these attributes impact its storage, maintenance, access and continued viability as a source of evidence.
b) Best Practices
Defining medium will give a greater sense of what hardware will be required to access the information. The hardware requirements of 3 1/2" floppy disks vs. 5 1/4" floppy disks vs. zip disks are more widely understood than the requirements of a broader designation of "computer disk". At the archival stage, the broader terms can be used as designated by the Rules for Archival Description, "rolling" the specific terms up into broader categories.
Recommended best practice is to select a value from an institution-specific scheme.
Once a record is locked, the value for this element may be modified by an authorized official only, e.g. to accommodate a change in medium if the record is moved from one medium to another.
This element is mandatory in order for users to determine how the information should be read. This is most appropriate for digital records.
d) Default Values/Auto-populate
This element is linked to the elements Container and Location in order to assist in the records retrieval. Format Medium is also linked to the element Event Type in cases where a change to the medium of the record must be noted in the management and event history log.