Document Type



In discussions surrounding digital preservation, context — those properties of an object related to its creation and preservation that make the object's origins, composition, and purpose clear — has been identified as a critical aspect of preservation metadata. Understanding a cultural object's context, in as much detail as possible, is necessary to the successful future use of that object, regardless of its form. The necessity of capturing data about the creation of digital resources and the technical details of the preservation process, has generally been agreed. Capturing many other contextual aspects — such as utility, history, curation, authenticity — that would certainly contribute to successful retrieval, assessment, management, access, and use of preserved digital content, has not been adequately addressed or codified. Recording these aspects of contextual information is especially important for physical objects that are digitally preserved, and thereby removed from their original setting. This paper investigates the various discussions in the literature surrounding contextual information, and then presents a framework which makes explicit the various dimensions of context which have been identified as useful for digital preservation efforts, and offers a way to ensure the capture those aspects of an object's context that are often missed.


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.