Executive summary of
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In March 2000 RLG and OCLC began a collaboration to establish attributes of a digital
repository for research organizations, building on and incorporating the emerging
international standard of theReference Model for an Open Archival Information System (OAIS). A
working group was created to reach consensus on the characteristics and responsibilities of
trusted digital repositories for large-scale, heterogeneous collections held by cultural
organizations. A draft report was issued in August 2001 and in the extended comment period
that followed a variety of interested individuals and organizations around the world
contributed numerous thoughtful and helpful suggestions that have been incorporated into
this final report.
As the Commission on Preservation & Access (CPA)/RLG Task Force on Archiving of
Digital Information did in their 1996 report, this working group recognizes the development
of national—and, increasingly, international—systems of digital repositories that are or will
soon be responsible for the long-term access to the world’s social, economic, cultural, and
intellectual heritage in digital form. Also like the Task Force, the working group understands
that content creators, owners of information, and current and potential users must be able to
trust repositories with this responsibility.
A trusted digital repository is one whose mission is to provide reliable, long-term access to
managed digital resources to its designated community, now and in the future. In this report
the working group has articulated a framework of attributes and responsibilities for trusted,
reliable, sustainable digital repositories capable of handling the range of materials held by
large and small research institutions. The framework is broad enough to accommodate
different situations, architectures, and institutional responsibilities while providing a basis
for the expectations of a trusted repository. The critical component will be the ability to
prove reliability and trustworthiness over time.
Finally, the report recommends that RLG, OCLC, and other organizations:
1. Develop a process for the certification of digital repositories.
2. Research and create tools to identify the significant attributes of digital materials that
must be preserved.
3. Research and develop models for cooperative repository networks and services.
4. Develop systems for the unique, persistent identification of digital objects that
expressly support long-term preservation.
5. Investigate and disseminate information about the complex relationship between
digital preservation and intellectual property rights.
6. Determine the technical strategies that best provide for continuing access.
7. Define the minimal-level metadata required for long-term management and develop
tools to automatically generate and/or extract as much of it as possible.
Just a few years ago, the development of trusted digital repositories seemed far in the future,
but today it is an immediate challenge. The expert involvement and community consensus
developed during the course of this work suggest that organizations and funding agencies
will need to work together in the very near future to address the needs articulated this report.