Open Archival Information System

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

An Open Archival Information System (or OAIS) is an archive, consisting of an organization of people and systems, that has accepted the responsibility to preserve information and make it available for a Designated Community.

The term OAIS also refers, by extension, to the ISO OAIS Reference Model for an OAIS. This reference model is defined by recommendation CCSDS 650.0-B-1 of the Consultative Committee for Space Data Systems;[1] this text is identical to ISO 14721:2003. The CCSDS's purview is space agencies, but the OAIS model it developed has proved useful to a wide variety of other organizations and institutions with digital archiving needs.

The information being maintained has been deemed to need "long term preservation", even if the OAIS itself is not permanent. "Long term" is long enough to be concerned with the impacts of changing technologies, including support for new media and data formats, or with a changing user community. "Long term" may extend indefinitely. In this reference model there is a particular focus on digital information, both as the primary forms of information held and as supporting information for both digitally and physically archived materials. Therefore, the model accommodates information that is inherently non-digital (e.g., a physical sample), but the modeling and preservation of such information is not addressed in detail. As strictly a conceptual framework, the OAIS model does not require the use of any particular computing platform, system environment, system design paradigm, system development methodology, database management system, database design paradigm, data definition language, command language, system interface, user interface, technology, or media for an archive to be compliant. Its aim is to set the standard for the activities that are involved in preserving a digital archive rather than the method for carrying out those activities.

The reference model[edit]

A diagram from wikimedia commons illustrating the OAIS functional entities.
OAIS Functional Entities.

The reference model:

  • provides a framework for the understanding and increased awareness of archival concepts needed for long term digital information preservation and access.
  • provides the concepts needed by non-archival organizations to be effective participants in the preservation process.
  • provides a framework, including terminology and concepts, for describing and comparing architectures and operations of existing and future archives.
  • provides a framework for describing and comparing different long term preservation strategies and techniques.
  • provides a basis for comparing the data models of digital information preserved by Archives and for discussing how data models and the underlying information may change over time.
  • provides a foundation that may be expanded by other efforts to cover long-term preservation of information that is not in digital form (e.g., physical media and physical samples).
  • expands consensus on the elements and processes for long-term digital information preservation and access, and promotes a larger market which vendors can support.
  • guides the identification and production of OAIS-related standards.[2]

Requirements of the system[edit]

The reference model (ISO 14721:2003) includes the following responsibilities that an OAIS archive must abide by:

  • Negotiate for and accept appropriate information from information Producers.
  • Obtain sufficient control of the information provided to the level needed to ensure Long-Term Preservation.
  • Determine, either by itself or in conjunction with other parties, which communities should become the Designated Community and, therefore, should be able to understand the information provided.
  • Ensure that the information to be preserved is Independently Understandable to the Designated Community. In other words, the community should be able to understand the information without needing the assistance of the experts who produced the information.
  • Follow documented policies and procedures which ensure that the information is preserved against all reasonable contingencies, and which enable the information to be disseminated as authenticated copies of the original, or as traceable to the original.
  • Make the preserved information available to the Designated Community.[2]:3-1

Widespread Adoption[edit]

Although originally developed by the CCSDS, a body dedicated to overseeing space agencies, as digital preservation has become a discipline unto itself, the OAIS has become the standard model for digital preservation systems at many institutions and organizations. OAIS-compliance has been a stated fundamental design requirement for major digital preservation and repository development efforts at the National Archives and Records Administration, Library of Congress, British Library, Bibliothèque nationale de France, National Library of the Netherlands, the Digital Curation Centre in the UK, OCLC (the Online Computer Library Center), the JSTOR (Journal Storage) scholarly journal archive, as well as several university library systems. The OAIS has been the basis of numerous prominent digital preservation initiatives and standards including the Preservation Metadata: Implementation Strategies working group and the Trustworthy Repositories Audit & Certification (TRAC) document from OCLC.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ - CCSDS Recommendations and Reports - All Publications
  2. ^ a b Consultative Committee for Space Data Systems. (2012). Reference Model for an Open Archival Information System (OAIS). Washington, DC: CCSDS Secretariat, p. 1-1.
  3. ^ Lee, Christopher A. "Defining Digital Preservation Work: A Case Study of the Development of the Reference Model for an Open Archival Information System". The University of Michigan. Retrieved 27 March 2014.