Document Type



The quality and the quantity of contextual information found in the descriptive metadata associated with digital representations of cultural objects are frequently inadequate for assuring that users will understand the nature of both the original object that has been digitally preserved, and the digital representation itself. This paper proposes and defines a framework for ensuring that relevant contextual metadata is easily collected and maintained. After identifying and describing eight important dimensions of context, the paper shows how implementing the framework, through a series of questions and prompts, results in a descriptive metadata record that accommodates the important aspects of an object's context. Using two very different cultural objects as examples, an Etruscan tomb painting and a 19th century bridge, the framework demonstrates that sufficient contextual information can be recorded in a metadata schema to enable effective future search, retrieval, examination, use, management, and preservation interactions.


Archival Science


This is a formatted version of an article originally published in the online journal D-Lib Magazine, 18(11/12), 2012. Pagination added for this version. Copyright © 2012 Joan Beaudoin. Archived by permission.