Focus OAIS/ISO: Exploring Standards in Digital Preservation

Focus OAIS/ISO: Exploring Standards in Digital Preservation

In the constantly evolving digital era, where information flows at dizzying speeds, data preservation has become a critical challenge. In this ever-changing digital landscape, standards play a fundamental role in ensuring the longevity and integrity of information. One of the most important frameworks in this regard is the Open Archival Information System (OAIS) Reference Model developed by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).

The Evolving Digital Landscape

Before delving into the importance of standards in digital preservation, it is crucial to understand the context in which we operate. We live in an era where most of our interactions, transactions, and creations take place in digital environments. From government documents to family photographs, a vast amount of data now exists in digital formats. However, the ephemeral nature of digital media poses unique challenges in terms of long-term preservation.

The Fundamental Role of Standards

Standards are like the pillars that support the digital infrastructure. They are agreed-upon rules and guidelines that establish the foundation for interoperability, quality, and sustainability. In the realm of digital preservation, standards are essential to ensure that data can be accessible and usable in the future, regardless of the technological changes that may arise.

By establishing agreed-upon rules and guidelines, standards provide a common language that facilitates communication between systems, applications, and users. This uniformity promotes interoperability, allowing data to flow seamlessly across different platforms and technologies.

Additionally, standards play a fundamental role in ensuring the quality and sustainability of data. By defining criteria and best practices, standards establish a framework for the creation, management, and preservation of digital information. This ensures that data is reliable, accurate, and consistent over time, which is crucial for its long-term utility and reliability.

OAIS: A Fundamental Framework

The OAIS Reference Model is an international standard developed by ISO that provides a conceptual framework for the long-term preservation and access of digital information. This framework establishes key concepts, functions, and relationships among the different components of a digital preservation system.

OAIS is not only a recognized international standard but also represents a cornerstone in the long-term preservation and management of digital information. This conceptual framework goes beyond merely providing guidelines; it is a detailed map that guides organizations through the complex process of digital preservation. By adopting OAIS, institutions gain a set of tools and proven practices that enable them to effectively manage their digital assets, from ingestion to future access.


The graph identifies and describes the set of mechanisms through which an OAIS-type archive fulfills its primary mission of preserving information over the long term and making it available to the Designated Community. These mechanisms are summarized by the OAIS functional model: a collection of six high-level services, or functional entities, that together serve the dual role of preserving and providing access to the information under its custody.

  • Ingest
  • Archival Storage
  • Data management
  • Preservation Planning
  • Access
  • Administration

Fundamental Principles of OAIS

  • Context: OAIS emphasizes the importance of capturing and preserving not only the data itself but also the context in which it was created and used. This ensures that data is understandable and usable for future generations.
  • Ingestion Process: Defines processes and procedures for ingesting data into a digital preservation repository, including validation, normalization, and metadata creation.
  • Preservation: Establishes guidelines for long-term preservation, including migration planning and monitoring of the technological environment.
  • Access: Facilitates access to preserved data by providing query and retrieval services while maintaining data integrity and authenticity.

The Importance of Adhering to Standards

The adoption and implementation of standards like OAIS are crucial to ensuring the long-term viability of digital data. By following a standard framework, organizations can mitigate the risks associated with technological obsolescence, data loss, and lack of interoperability.

Libnova provides you with a structured and systematic approach to addressing the challenges of digital preservation that your organization needs, ensuring that digital history, knowledge, and culture endure for future generations. 

We will be happy to help you design the best digital preservation strategy for your institution. Contact Us!

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