Most users are now familiar with web-based services in which a user connects to a site, submits a request of some kind, then receives an appropriate response. This same pattern of request and response structures the OAIS Access functions. Access in OAIS may provide objects to an intermediary system that then interacts directly with users, or it may deliver objects directly to users.

From a digital preservation perspective, an OAIS must be able to find and deliver objects effectively in response to requests from Consumers (users and user systems). Preservation without the means for access is of debatable value, but access is still not the primary purpose of a preservation system. Access generally demands the use of current technology to render objects that will meet user expectations. The organizational responsibility for access is to ensure that the requirements to deliver can be met, that the user communities are well defined, and that adequate resources are available to support ongoing development in support of access.

$$$$ Access entails organizational costs (e.g., policy development and maintenance, interface development, requirements analysis) and technological costs (e.g., programming to process and respond to queries, generate DIPS, develop rights management protocols). OAIS acknowledges the organization’s option to charge users for copies, which may offset costs.


0101 The interface between the archive and the Consumer must take requests for simple result sets, complex orders of content objects and metadata, and reports on the status and structure of the objects. The interface must also provide for the delivery of the desired information. The Dissemination Information Package (DIP)—the complex object assembled from Data Management’s Descriptive Information and from objects in Archival Storage—is generated and delivered. The Consumer’s right to the material must be determined and delivery must be authorized. Transaction notices are generated and routed to Data Management and Administration for logging and billing, if appropriate.


  1. Does your organization have an access policy for objects for which it has digital preservation responsibility? Does it adequately address your digital rights management issues?
  2. Do you believe your users would prefer to see your digital assets with the original “look and feel” or as they could be rendered using the most current software? Would their preference vary by domain, file format, or other factors?