Digital Archive Directions (DADs) Workshop

(A part of the ISO Archiving Workshop Series)


Position Paper

Digital Archive Directions (DADs) Workshop

DATE: June 22-26, 1998

HOST: The National Archives and Records Administration
Archives II
8601 Adelphi Road
College Park, MD 20740-6001



1. Identification of Proposed Topic [Required]

1.1 Title

Developing a Policy Framework for Creating and Preserving Digital Resources

1.2 Contributor(s)

Neil Beagrie
Collections and Standards Development Officer AHDS
Daniel Greenstein
Director AHDS

address :
Arts and Humanities Data Service Executive
King's College London
London WC2R 2LS


fax : +(44) (0)171 873 5080

www :

1.3 Description of Proposed Project

The Arts and Humanities Data Service (AHDS) is funded by the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) of the UK's Higher Education Funding Councils to collect, preserve and promote re-use of digital resources which result from or support research and teaching in the arts and humanities. The Digital Archiving Working Group (DAWG) is co-ordinating the development of a national digital preservation policy and comprises representatives from the British Library, the JISC, the UK's Public Record Office, the Publisher's Association, and the Research Libraries Group.

The AHDS was recently commissioned by the DAWG to develop a strategic policy framework and implementation guidance for the creation and preservation of digital resources. The framework (available as a consultation draft from, is based on the life-cycle of a resource from its initial inception through to its creation, management, use, and long-term disposition. It examines the strategic decisions typically taken with respect to a digital resource at each stage of its life cycle, demonstrates how these decisions are influenced by the legal and business environments in which they are taken, and, most critically, their inter- relatedness with regard to how, whether, and at what cost a digital resource may be preserved over the longer term. A further contribution dervies from the framework's recognition that different stake-holders are typically involved with a digital resource throughout its life-cycle, and accordingly have some influence over that resource's preservation prospects. By documenting the preservation process, the framework identifies the roles and relationships of those stakeholders.

The framework and the implementation guidance have been based on extensive research and on interviews with representatives of those organisations which have a major stake in the creation or long-term maintenance of digital information. Institutions interviewed included a selection of international libraries, museums, archives, scientific and other academic data archives, data warehouses (or data banks) and national records repositories. Together they represent a synthesis of work to date on digital preservation and point directions toward the development of robust preservation strategies.

The position paper intended for presentation at the workshop will outline the framework and the implementation guidelines, and recommend its further development as a standard.

1.4 Justification

Digital information forms an increasingly large part of our cultural and intellectual heritage and offers significant benefits to users. The use of computers is changing forever the way information is being created, managed and accessed. The ability to generate, easily amend and copy information in digital form; to search texts and databases; and to transmit information rapidly via networks world-wide has lead to a dramatic growth in the application of digital technologies.

At the same time the great advantages of digital information are coupled with the enormous fragility of this medium over time compared to traditional media such as paper. The experience of addressing the Year 2000 issue in existing software systems, or data losses through poor management of digital data are beginning to raise awareness of the issues. Electronic information is fragile and evanescent. It needs careful management from the moment of creation and a pro-active policy and strategic approach to its creation and management to secure its preservation over the longer-term. The cost structure for securing the cultural and intellectual work of the digital age will be notable and has to be built in at the beginning if these costs are to be minimised and that investment effectively applied. There will be many stakeholders and interests in a digital resource over a period of time. A strategic approach is needed to recognise, address, and co-ordinate these interests and secure the future of digital resources.

The framework elaborated by this study provides strategic guidance to stakeholders involved with digital resources at various stages of their life cycle. Although its aim is to facilitate awareness about practices which may enhance the prospects for and reduce the cost of digital preservation, it is useful for anyone involved in the creation, management, and use of digital resources. Key issues which should be addressed by stakeholders in order to identify and select appropriate and cost-effective practices may be identified for each stage of the digital resource's life cycle and are summarised in the report.

1.5 Definitions of Concepts and Special Terms

1.6 Expected Relationship with OAIS Reference Model

The draft reference model for an Open Archival Information System (OAIS) provides a framework and common terminology that may be used by Government and Commercial sectors in the request and provision of digital archive services. Although primarily aimed at the space and earth observation communities, the model recognises that it could be extended to other communities, and is particularly valuable as an organisational and organisational process model appropriate for data archives and other repositories which are responsible for long-term data preservation.

The draft framework developed for the DAWG, demonstrates that data preservation is itself a process which follows the life-cycle of a digital resource from its initial inception. That process typically involves numerous stakeholders (data archives and other preservation centres among them), many of whom will be unaware of their interdependences with regard to data preservation. In this respect, the DAWG framework is directly complementary to the OAIS one. Indeed, it cites the OAIS model and the chair of the UK Working Party for the OAIS standard was been interviewed in the course of the framework's development.



2. Scope of Proposed Standard [Desired]

2.1 Recommended Scope of Standard

We would not wish to pre-judge directions that should be taken but it would be helpful as a starting point to:

  1. formally include OAIS members in the consultation on the draft report
  2. examine the recommendations in our report and areas of common interest
  3. consider the report for possible further development as framework or standard directly complementing that of the OAIS.

2.2 Existing Practice in Area of Proposed Standard

2.3 Expected Stability of Proposed Standard with Respect to Current and Potential Technological Advances

Wider Views

Overview of the DADs Workshop
Overview of US Effort
Overview of International Effort


A service of NOST at NSSDC. Access statistics for this web are available. Comments and suggestion are always welcome.

Author: Neil Beagrie (
Daniel Greenstein (
Curator: John Garrett ( +1.301.286.3575
Responsible Official: Code 633.2 / Don Sawyer ( +1.301.286.2748
Last Revised: May 4, 1998, Neil Beagrie (May 26, 1998, John Garrett)