Guide to Standards

A Guide to Archival Standards


A brief guide to the various standards applicable to archives and archivists - from our regular column published in ARC magazine

The sheer number of metadata standards in the cultural heritage sector is overwhelming, and their inter-relationships further complicate the situation. A useful new resource, Seeing Standards: A Visualization of the Metadata Universe, has been developed by Jenn Riley, Metadata Librarian in the Indiana University Digital Library Program, to assist with the selection and implementation of metadata standards.

Archival Metadata Structure Standards

Metadata Structure Standards

Metadata Content Standards

Metadata Packaging Standards

Indexing Standards

  • Guidelines for the establishment and development of monolingual thesauri (ISO 2788)
  • Guidelines for the establishment and development of multilingual thesauri (ISO 5964)

Thesaurii and word lists

  • Australian Governments' Interactive Functions Thesaurus (AGIFT)
  • Integrated Public Sector Vocabulary (IPSV)
  • Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH)
  • Medical Subject Headings (MeSH)
  • UNESCO thesaurus
  • UKAT (UK Archival Thesaurus)

XML DTD and Schema

Interoperability Protocols

Digital Preservation

Reference Models and Frameworks

File Formats


  • Archival Resource Key (ARK)
  • ANSI/NISO Z39.84 Syntax for the Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
  • The Handle System
  • ISO 9834-8 UUIDs
  • PURLs

Security Standards