19th International CODATA Conference
Category: Data Archiving

Preserving the cultural heritage: an investigation into the feasibility of the OAIS model for application in small organisations

Ms Jaqueline Spence (jss03@aber.ac.uk)
Dept. of Information Studies,
University of Wales Aberystwyth, UK

The Open Archival Information System (OAIS) has been designed and created primarily by and for national and international space agencies, but should be valid for a much wider community.   The model is intended to be applicable to any archive, but is aimed especially at organisations seeking to preserve information in the long term.

However, the financial implications of fully implementing the OAIS as written make it prohibitive to some organisations that may wish to manage, preserve and protect digital resources in the long term.  Such organisations could have digital material that is of long-term interest to researchers and to society at large, but not the means to preserve it as described by the OAIS model.

Organisations in the voluntary sector fall into this category; many charities build and maintain databases of information that could be used as the basis for longitudinal studies, in both quantitative and qualitative research. However, they do not have the means either to make such data accessible to wider communities, or to unite it with other datasets for wider and deeper research capability.

This paper will examine the model from this perspective and make the case for a simplified or modularised model that sustains the essential functional entities but enables small organisations to create open archives for future access and use of knowledge that is currently obscured from scientific scrutiny and general public view.

Also under consideration will be potential Producers depositing digital material to an OAIS compliant organisation (such as a National Library), and the need to meet the SIP demands of that organisation; the OAIS recommendations will be examined with respect to acceptable levels of information to be supplied to the archive, and the practical ability of the Producer to provide it.