In 2003, RLG and the US National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) created a joint task force to address digital repository certification. The goal of the RLG-NARA Task Force on Digital Repository Certification was to develop criteria to identify digital repositories capable of reliably storing, migrating, and providing access to digital collections. With partial funding from the NARA Electronic Records Archives Program, the international task force produced a set of certification criteria applicable to a range of digital repositories and archives, from academic institutional preservation repositories to large data archives and from national libraries to third-party digital archiving services. Ken Thibodeau, Director of the ERA Program, points out, "We need to foster a context where people can trust information from a digital repository as readily as they trust twenty dollar bills from an ATM, without looking inside the shell. The Checklist provides milestones repositories can use to earn this trust."
In 2005, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation awarded funding to the Center for Research Libraries to further establish the documentation requirements, delineate a process for certification, and establish appropriate methodologies for determining the soundness and sustainability of digital repositories. Under this effort, Robin Dale (RLG Programs) and Bernard F. Reilly (President, Center for Research Libraries) created an audit methodology based largely on the checklist, tested it on several major digital repositories, including the E-Depot at the Koninklijke Bibliotheek in the Netherlands, the Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research, and Portico.
Findings and methodologies were shared with those of related working groups in Europe who applied the draft checklist in their own domains: the Digital Curation Center (U.K.), DigitalPreservationEurope (Continental Europe) and NESTOR (Germany). The report incorporates the sum of knowledge and experience, new ideas, techniques, and tools that resulted from cross-fertilization between the U.S. and European efforts. It also includes a discussion of audit and certification criteria and how they can be considered from an organizational perspective.
With the publication of this report, all related digital repository audit and certification work is moving to CRL. According to Bernard Reilly, "At a time when universities and research libraries are being called upon to bear the substantial costs of preserving digital data and electronic content, the TRAC checklist will help make possible the kind of due diligence that the community exercises in their other investments of comparable scale.
This conviction is shared by James Michalko, Vice President, RLG Programs "This is a critical time for research institutions tasked with providing long-term access to digital information. TRAC will help institutions objectively evaluate responsibilities against capabilities and identify potential risks to digital content held in repositories, archives, and by content providers. It provides the community with a tool to facilitate assessment and understanding, and will enable vital collaboration among repositories."
The 93-page report is available in pdf from the Center for Research Libraries
Background on the CRL project
Background on the RLG-NARA Task Force and its work
Related OCLC Programs & Research work
Headquartered in Dublin, Ohio, OCLC Online Computer Library Center is a nonprofit organization that has provided computer-based cataloging, reference, resource sharing, eContent and preservation services to 57,000 libraries in 112 countries and territories. OCLC, FirstSearch and RLG are trademarks and/or service marks of OCLC Online Computer Library Center, Inc. Third-party product, service and business names are trademarks and/or service marks of their respective owners.
The Center for Research Libraries is a not-for-profit consortium of 202 North American research libraries and universities that promotes the preservation of critical resources for advanced research and teaching in the humanities, sciences, and social sciences.