Attributes of Trusted Digital Repositories

This activity is now closed. The information on this page is provided for historical purposes only.

In early 2000 RLG and OCLC began discussing ways the two organizations could cooperate to create infrastructures for digital archiving. RLG took the lead in work to define and gain consensus on the characteristics of a sustainable digital archives for large-scale, heterogeneous collections held by research repositories.

A group of jointly appointed international experts participated in the effort, which produced the May 2002 report, Trusted Digital Repositories: Attributes and Responsibilities. This document underlies further work by both our organizations, as well as serving many other institutions and organizations dealing with the long-term retention of digital materials.


In 1994-96 the RLG-CPA-sponsored task force on archiving digital information began articulating the nature of a sustainable digital archives. The Consultative Committee for Space Data Systems continued this work in the Reference Model for an Open Archive Information System (OAIS)—as have many groups and individual institutions since that are designing their own archiving systems.

Expectations and designs are driven by the individual needs of the particular community a system will serve. RLG and OCLC sought to define the characteristics of a sustainable digital archives that could serve large-scale, heterogeneous collections held by such research repositories as national libraries, university libraries, special collections, archives, and museums—and to ensure international input and consensus for this definition.

2000-2002 RLG-OCLC Digital Archive Attributes Working Group

Neil Beagrie
Joint Information Systems Committee
Meg Bellinger
Preservation Resources, OCLC
Robin Dale
Marianne Doerr
Bayerische Staatsbibliothek
Margaret Hedstrom
University of Michigan
Anne Kenney
Cornell University
Maggie Jones
Cedars Project (CURL Exemplars in Digital Archives)
Catherine Lupovici
Bibliothèque national de France
Kelly Russell
Cedars Project
Colin Webb
National Library of Australia
Deborah Woodyard
The British Library


  • Define the characteristics of reliable archiving services for heterogeneous research collections in a document to be made available electronically to the community at large.
  • Produce a rational set of criteria for archives that can hold the full range of digital collections and datasets (including both "born digital" and "born-again digital" information) requiring long-term storage and access systems.
  • Identify tools that support research institutions as they seek either to build their own archiving capacity or contract with third-party services for archiving functions.

Community input

In August 2001 we invited wide public feedback on a working draft from the group, Attributes of a Trusted Digital Repository: Meeting the Needs of Research Resources (which also earned a Scout Report selection). With this feedback and further guidance from the entire group, a subset of participants completed the final report.