December 2014

Public release of the OAIS Introductory Guide (2nd Edition) DPC Technology Watch Report

We are pleased to announce the public release of the OAIS Introductory Guide (2nd Edition), the latest report in the Digital Preservation Coalition (DPC) Technology Watch Series. Written by Brian Lavoie of OCLC Research, and published by the DPC in association with Charles Beagrie Ltd, this free peer-reviewed report  looks back on the development, features, and impact of the Open Archival Information System (OAIS) Reference Model, one of the core standards of digital preservation.

Research Scientist at OCLC, Brian observes that perhaps “the most important achievement of the OAIS in this history is that it has become almost universally accepted as the lingua franca of digital preservation”

Emphasising its flexibility and conceptual nature, the report describes the OAIS, its core principles and functional elements, as well as the information model which support long-term preservation, access and understandability of data – highlighting the in-built level of abstraction which makes it such a widely applicable foundation resource for digital preservation.

Brian adds “it is possible to identify a few limitations associated with the OAIS’s impact,” generally associated with the very conceptual nature of the model, and goes on to recommend that the digital preservation community would certainly “benefit from a careful assessment of where more precise and authoritative definitions of OAIS concepts and relationships would accelerate progress in achieving robust, widely applicable, and interoperable digital preservation solutions.”

The Introduction to OAIS was the first of the DPC Technology Watch reports, and although it was first published a decade ago it has remained popular. The second edition updates and expands this first report, providing an excellent introduction to the OAIS for those new to digital preservation and resource for practitioners wishing to re-acquaint themselves with the basics of the model, supplemented by the wisdom of a decade of research, development and implementation.

Sarah Higgins of the Department of Information Studies at Aberystwyth University praises the report, calling it “a much needed and important update. It lays out both the content of the second edition of the OAIS Reference Model, and the results of over a decade of research and development that can trace its roots to OAIS. The tools and processes for practical implementation of digital preservation and measuring their success are expertly explained and evaluated. The report will be invaluable to both established and new entrants to the digital preservation profession who need to understand the basic concepts of an OAIS and the tools available to them. This clear and comprehensive report will be embedded as core reading for Aberystwyth University students studying Digital Curation or Digital Information Management at Master’s level”.

OAIS Introductory Guide (2nd Edition) is the latest in the state of the art Technology Watch Reports that give an advanced introduction to ensuring that high-value and vulnerable digital resources can be managed beyond the limits of technological obsolescence.

Read Brian Lavoie’s Technology Watch Report ‘OAIS Introductory Guide (2nd Edition)’ now.

20 years in Digital Preservation

It came as a bit of a shock to realise that sometime in the next 12 months, I will have been involved in digital preservation for 20 years.

The first thing I ever wrote in 1995 on the topic of digital preservation (fortunately anonymously) was this:


The inadequacies and compromises in this advice (not only for preservation but also for its implications for online access), sparked my interest in solving the problems and helping advance solutions for them (such as the Archaeology Data Service) in subsequent years.

How to mark the occasion? Well over the last two decades I have given over 150 keynotes and presentations at events internationally and in the UK on digital preservation topics, and a personal digital archive has gradually evolved. So I have decided to make a personal selection of 12 presentations that I think may have been the most significant and influential.

I will release a blog narrative for one of them each month over the next 12 months and will put it on Slideshare. For those interested in which presentations made the cut and will be appearing on 1st day of the month over 2015, this is my personal top 12 arranged in date order:

  • 1998 – Preserving Digital Collections: current methods and research, presentation to the Society of Archivists annual conference, Sheffield UK
  • 2001 – Preservation Management of Digital Materials (the Digital Preservation Handbook) presentation to Digital Preservation Workshop, Melbourne Australia
  • 2004  –  The Digital Preservation Coalition (DPC), Its History, Programme, Rationale ,and Structure, set of 4 linked presentations to DPC Forum, London UK
  • 2004 -Digital Preservation, e-journals and e-prints, presentation at private workshop 1st iPres conference, Beijing China
  • 2004 –  The JISC Continuing Access and Digital Preservation Strategy 2002-5, presentation to the JISC-CNI conference, Brighton UK
  • 2004 – eScience and Digital Preservation, presentation to Association for Information Science and Technology (ASIST) conference, Rhode Island USA
  • 2005 – Plenty of Room at the Bottom? Personal Digital Libraries and Collections, keynote presentation to European Conference on Research and Advanced Technology for Digital Libraries (ECDL), Vienna Austria
  • 2005 – Digital Preservation and Curation Summing up + Next Steps, conclusions to Warwick II Workshop, Warwick UK
  • 2007 – Digital Preservation: Setting the Course for a Decade of Change, keynote presentation to the Belgian Association for Documentation (ABD-BVD), Brussels Belgium
  • 2010 – Keeping Research Data Safe, presentation to KB Experts Workshop on Digital Preservation Costs, The Hague Netherlands
  • 2013 – Maintaining a Vision: how mandates and strategies are changing with digital content, keynote presentation to Screening the Future conference, London UK
  • 2014 – The Value and Impact of Research Data Infrastructure, presentation to the Preservation and Archiving Special Interest Group (PASIG), Karlsruhe Germany