oais1.jpgNoted from the OAIS model.

The OAIS model generally is not prescriptive, but it contains one section (3.1) where it lays out the responsibilities that an organisation must discharge in order to operate as an OAIS. These are:

1. Negotiate with Information Producers and accept appropriate information from them. This is simply the digital equivalent of what any record office does, though an OAIS in practice needs to gather much more information about a given accession, for PDI purposes.

2. Obtain sufficient control of the information to the level needed to ensure long term preservation. In a paper archive this is largely (a) keeping the stuff in a box and (b) capturing any access, copyright and legal restrictions as necessary. In a digital repository there is (c) the need to capture all the technical metadata for PDI purposes too. There may be additional legal issues as well, concerning authenticity, software copyright etc. “It is important for the OAIS to recognize the separation that can exist between physical ownership or possession of Content Information and ownership of intellectual property rights in this information” (3.2.2). The OAIS in practice may need to obtain authority to migtae Content Information to new representation forms.

3. Determine which groups should become the Designated Community able to understand the information. This is a more important task in a digital archive than a paper one, because how we define the DC determines what sort and level of Representation Information we need to keep alongside the Content data. The DC may change over time. OAIS suggests (3.2.3) that selecting a broader rather than a narrower definition helps long term preservation, as it means that more detailed RI is captured at an early stage, rather than leaving it until later.

4. Ensure that the preserved information is independently understandable to the DC, so that no further expert assistance is needed. [AA: this is an interesting point as paper repositories often work in the opposite way: the DC is so large (“the general public”) that a searchroom has to employ professional archivists and well-trained archive assistants to be on hand to explain the documents to the visitor.] The quality of being “independently understandable” will change over time. This means that RI will have to be updated as the years go by, even if the DC itself does not change.

5. Follow documented policies and procedures to ensure that (a) the information can be preserved against all reasonable contingencies, and (b) the information can be disseminated as authenticated copies of the original or as traceable back to the original. Section 3.2.5 suggests that these policies should be available to producers, consumers and any related repositories, and that the DC should be monitored so that the Content Information is still understandable to them. An OAIS should also have a long term technology usage plan.

6. Makes the preserved data available to the DC. An OAIS should have published policies on access and restrictions, so that the rights of all parties are protected.

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