4. Foundations

A digital preservation program exists within an organizational context and as such must fit the needs, priorities, and resources of that organization. The core of a digital preservation program is a digital preservation system. This tutorial focuses on the organizational context for a digital preservation program and has as its foundation two key documents that have emerged from the digital preservation community.

Trusted Digital Repositories: Attributes and Responsibilities report cover

The first document is Trusted Digital Repositories: Attributes and Responsibilities (TDR), produced by the Research Libraries Group (RLG) and OCLC. TDR defines the organizational context for a digital preservation program. TDR embraces OAIS and demonstrates what adhering to OAIS will mean for an institution.

The second document is the Reference Model for an Open Archival Information System (OAIS), produced by an international group of digital preservation researchers and practitioners convened by the NASA Consultative Committee for Space Data Systems (CCSDS). OAIS is an ISO standard (ISO 14721:2003) that provides the functional framework for sustaining digital objects in managed repositories. OAIS has been adopted as the foundation for many important digital preservation initiatives, and incorporates definitions and relationships between participants and the component parts of an archival information system. OAIS defines what is needed but not how to build it. Currently, CCSDS has updated OAIS using input from the user community. This update is CCSDS 650.0 M 2.

You could say that the TDR is primarily organizational and the OAIS primarily technological, but the two must work in concert for a digital preservation program to be successfully planned and implemented. Organizations have tended to focus on the technology—and more often on their fear of the technology—though there are many organizational pieces that need to be in place, including policies, procedures, and sustainable resources.

Here we present the two foundation documents in some detail with a special emphasis on preservation metadata and then discuss how they fit together to provide a starting point for cultural organizations wishing to establish a digital preservation repository.