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

Requirements for an Archival Submission Standard

1.2 Contributor(s)

Donald Sawyer
Code 633
NASAšs Goddard Space Flight Center
Greenbelt Road
Greenbelt, MD 20771
fax: +1 301 286 1771
phone: +1 301 286 2748

John Garrett
Raytheon STX
Code 633
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center
Greenbelt Road
Greenbelt, MD 20771
fax: +1 301 286 1771
phone: +1 301 286 3575

1.3 Description of Proposed Project

This is a proposal for a standard for submission of digital information to an archive. The objective is to attempt to create a standard that provides a framework by which archives can increase the automation of their data ingest and validation functions, while still supporting the variety of data structures and formats that data producers typically require. The approach is to model data submissions along the lines of the OAIS (Open Archival Information System) reference model1s Submission Information Package (SIP) in such a way that it supports the ready creation of an Archival Information Package (AIP).

The proposed approach is to use data packaging techniques, with appropriate 'widely recognized' pointers to associated metadata, so that the Content Information objects can be submitted without having to include copies of all the needed metadata with each submission. It will be important to identify the various categories of Preservation Description Information (PDI) while leaving the format of such information to more local definition. It will also be necessaray to include one or more standard objects containing some standard attributes about the submission such as identification of the submitter, identification of the submission, status of submission, version of packaging, etc. It will be necessary to allow individual archives to include additional data objects that they will treat as part of their submission standards to meet their individual needs.

The task will be to further expand the requirements and delineate the scope of the standard; then to identify candidate packaging standards and pointer mechanisms, to settle on one, and to develop a set of standard attributes and metadata objects to be included in a submission package. It will also be important to develop supporting software to demonstrate the utility of the standard.

1.4 Justification

Many archives expend significant resources in obtaining the digital information, and its supporting metadata, in forms that can be ingested and preserved within the archive. To the extent that there are widely applicable standards for submission to archives, data producers can be supported in preparing their submissions for archives and archives can increase the automation in their ability to ingest information. The quality of the information for preservation and access can be increased as well as there will be widely recognized requirements for the supporting metadata that should lead to much better infrastructure support for providing such metadata.

By clearly separating the Content Information from the supporting metadata, an archive can evolve its management infrastructure independently from the formats/data objects used for the Content Information. This allows for more cost-effective evolution of archive systems.

1.5 Definitions of Concepts and Special Terms

The concepts and terms used have been taken from the OAIS reference model. They are:

Archival Information Package (AIP):
An information packaging concept that requires the presence of Content Information and all the associated Preserving Description Information that is needed to preserve the Content Information over the long term. It has associated Packaging Information.
Content Information:
That set of information that is the primary target for preservation. It is distinguished from Preservation Description Information which is used to assist in the preservation of the Content Information. An example of Content Information could be a single table of numbers representing, and understandable as, temperatures but it excludes the documentation which would explain its history and origin, how it relates to other observations, etc.
Information Package:
An information packaging concept that distinguishes Content Information from associated Preservation Description Information where the Preservation Description Information applies to the Content Information and is needed to aid in the preservation of the Content Information. It has associated PackagingInformation used to delimit and identify the Content Information and Preservation Description Information.
Packaging Information:
That information that is used to bind and identify the components of an Information Package. For example, it may be the ISO-9660 volume and directory information used on a CD-ROM to provide the content of several files containing Content Information and Preservation Description Information. It is comprised of Package tructures and Package Pointers.
Preservation Description Information (PDI):
Information necessary to adequately preserve the Content Information and which can be categorized as Provenance, Reference, Fixity, and Context information.
Submission Information Package (SIP):
The Information Package identified by the Producer in the Submission Agreement with the OAIS

1.6 Expected Relationship with OAIS Reference Model

This proposed standard would exist at the interface between the Producer and the Ingest Function. It is proposed as a standard for an OAIS Submisison Package.



2. Scope of Proposed Standard [Desired]

2.1 Recommended Scope of Standard

It is proposed to cover the packaging technique to assemble and link data objects into a recognizable, interchangeable, package. It should include the identification of types of metadata objects needed for long- term preservation, but would not specify the detailed formats for such objects. It would include the definition of some standard ingest attributes while allowing additional attributes to be defined by the users.

2.2 Existing Practice in Area of Proposed Standard

It is believed that no single practice is widely used today. Many archives set local standards, often closely coupled with the particular formats used to hold the content information.

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

Potential Technological Advances Most likely the packaging approaches for the Content Information and supporting metadata would be the aspects most vulnerable to changing technology. These would need to be picked with this as a consideration. However a 5-year review cycle should be adequate to address changing technology impacts.

Wider Views

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


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Author: Don Sawyer ( +1.301.286.2748
John Garrett ( +1.301.286.3575
Curator: John Garrett ( +1.301.286.3575
Responsible Official: Code 633.2 / Don Sawyer ( +1.301.286.2748
Last Revised: June 12, 1998, John Garrett