Defining Compliance

Compliance with the OAIS model is difficult to demonstrate and measure as the lower level specifications and protocols are not fully developed nor implemented in a range of organizational settings. The model provides a high-level blueprint for implementing a digital archive.

OAIS cover

Organizations may choose to build or buy their digital archives system on their own or as part of a consortium. This decision should be based upon the mission, need, program scope, and resources (financial, human, and technical) of the organization.

0101 The OAIS model allows for modular development. The keys to success include leveraging existing developments and infrastructure to realize a fully functioning digital archive, and prioritizing design and implementation needs through a coordinated sequence of development stages.

$$$$ Each organization will want to conduct a cost-benefit analysis to test possible options for the best fit to meet identified digital preservation requirements. Should your institution build a repository, outsource its development, join a consortium, etc.?


As a group exercise for your core working group on digital preservation, try this:

Take the OAIS reference model document.
Go through each section to identify and document text that suggests mandatory, desirable, or optional actions or capabilities for your OAIS.

The process will provide a team-building opportunity and the result will be at least a starting point for the requirements your organization will have to address to be OAIS compliant. OAIS intentionally does not prescribe how an organization's OAIS will operate; the organization must make that determination.

Watch this space
Watch This Space

Digital Preservation Repository Certification
What will certification mean for your organization?

An ISO standards development project was established in January 2007 to develop an ISO standard to enable the audit and certification of digital repositories. RLG and the National Archives and Records Administration sponsored the Digital Preservation Repository Certification Task Force from 2003-2007, which produced version 1.0 of the Trustworthy Repositories Audit & Certification (TRAC): Criteria and Checklist. The TRAC framework supports self-assessment for organizations and is informed by the foundation documents: Trusted Digital Repositories and the OAIS Reference Model. The Center for Research Libraries conducted a research project, funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, that tested the use of the TRAC document in a series of real-life assessments of repositories and develop the processes and activities required to audit and certify digital archives. (For an extensive review, see the RLG DigiNews special issue on certification.)

Certification Principles
These are some principles to consider for the certification process. It must be:

  • external to the digital archives (cannot consist solely of self-assessment)
  • managed/performed by recognized authorities
  • well-documented with comprehensive and explicit policies, procedures, and practices
  • sustainable and monitorable over time
  • replicable

Certification Questions
Certification is a digital preservation community issue. Like many other digital preservation areas, policies, procedures, and processes for certification are being developed.

Consider these implementation questions:

  • What designated body will undertake the certification of digital preservation repositories? Who will designate that body?
  • Who will be the certifiers? How will individuals be qualified to perform certifications?
  • What stakeholders will that board represent?
  • What role will the digital preservation community have in developing and maintaining the certification process?
  • What automated tools for certification will be developed, by whom, and how used?

Consider these questions for your institution:

  • What documentation would you be able to provide to a certifying board?
  • What would a certifying board say about your institution’s digital preservation program?