Skip to Main Content

OSU Library Metadata: A Guideline to Best Practices: Technical Specifications

This site provides guidelines for OSU's local implementation of CDP Dublin Core Metadata Best Practices Version 2.1.1

Technical Specifications

Label: Technical Specifications
Maps to Dublin Core Element Name:
Maps to MARC field (in World Cat): 538
Mandatory: Yes, if applicable
Repeatable: Yes
          Refinements: None
          Schemes: None

Comment/Context: Technical Specifications

Use the Technical Specifications element to record technical information about the hardware, software, and processes used to create the digitized resource. Include information such as scanner model, scan resolution, color profiles, compression schemes, size of master file (sometimes referred to as archival file), etc. This element is primarily intended for use at the local level. Use the Format element to record information about the access file.

This element is free text, and is not based on any Dublin Core recommendations. However, as a general guideline, information that describes technical aspects of the digital object's creation is beneficial for long-term administration, technical support, and maintenance of digital objects.

Input guidelines: Technical Specifications

1. Most digital objects will include multiple digitization specifications. Use separate Technical Specifications elements to enter multiple specifications or clearly separate each entry by a semicolon followed by a space (; ) within an element.

2. Refer to NISO document Z39.87-2002, Data Dictionary: Technical Metadata for Digital Still Images for an excellent element-by-element example of the types of technical metadata that should be recorded about every digital object. This document focuses on visual resources, but many of the technical metadata elements would apply to any digital file.

See also the Collaborative Digitization Program's Digital Audio Best Practices for how to record technical metadata for audio files.

See also the Public Broadcasting Core instantiation elements for collecting technical information about the reformatting of dynamic media.

3. An excellent print resource for more information is Maggie Jones and Neal Beagrie's Preservation Management of Digital Materials: A Handbook (British Library, 2001).

4. The following are some important technical details of digital file creation that are worth recording. These details are not included in any of the other elements in this document. The institution that creates the digital object may document and manage each of these elements as separate database fields.

Strongly Recommended:
File size for master file - The number of bytes as provided by the computer system. Best practice is to record the file size as kilobytes, megabytes, etc. (e.g., 3 Mb).

Quality - For visual resources, characteristics such as bit depth, resolution (not spatial resolution); for multimedia resources, other indicators of quality, such as 16-bit audio file.

Extent of master file - Pixel dimensions, pagination, spatial resolution, play time, or other measurements of the physical or temporal extent of the digital object.

Creation hardware - If a hardware device was used to create, derive, or generate the digital object, indicate from a controlled list of terms the particular hardware device. (Examples: flatbed reflective scanner, digital camera, etc.) Include manufacturer, model name, and model number.

Operating system - Computer operating system used on the computer with which the digital object was created. (Examples:  Windows, Mac, UNIX, Linux). Also include version of operating system. Creation and any editing software - Name and version number of the software used to create the digital object.

Preferred presentation - Designation of the device, application, medium, or environment recommended for optimal presentation of the digital object.

Checksum value - A numeric value used to detect errors in file recording or file transfer, checksum helps ensure the integrity of digital files against loss of data. Statement about methods of deriving checksum.

Other useful creation information about the digital file creation, such as the name of technicians, text encoders, digitization vendor, may also be beneficial for long-term administration of digital collections. It is recognized that many partners may split these discrete pieces of information (resolution, bit depth, hardware, etc.) into separate fields in their local databases or management systems.

Examples: Technical Specifications

IMAGE FILE: Master file format: image/tiff; master file size: 30 MB; bit depth: 16; color mode: greyscale; pixel dimensions: 5392 x 3925; resolution: 800 ppi; capture hardware: Epson Perfection V750-M Pro; optimization software: Adobe Photoshop CS3

VIDEO FILE: CWAM_ConnectingCollections_CuratorialDecisionMaking Master File; PlayItAll Media File (wmv) 24,882 KB; Color; 1 Audio Track; 1 Video Track; data rate 56 Kb/second; Frame rate 30.000030; Sampling rate for audio 44.1 kHz; 16-bit depth; frame size 640x480; aspect ratio 4:3; crop 16:9; Codec Wma2; Runtime 2.32 seconds; Canon Ultra Compact XA10 Professional Camcorder; operating system Windows 8; Object producer Maura Hadaway; Metadata producer Sarena Fletcher

AUDIO FILE: audio/wav; 4.26 MB; 0:4 Digitizing process: Reel-to-reel tapes were played on a Studer 820 tape machine through a Muth (custom handmade) Analog Transfer Console. The analog signal was converted to digital using a Prism AD-2 analog to digital convertor. The digital signal was recorded using Nuendo 2.0 software at 96K/24bit as a Broadcast Wave file via a Lynx 2 with a  LS/AES interface card

Oral History Audio
Master file: audio/wav; 510 MB; 01:25:31; 24 bits; 48.0 kHz; Marantz PMD 661