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  Preservation Procedure Policy: Understandable for Designated Community
Related Guidance Policy
Definition/ Description The OAIS model page 1-12 defines “Independently Understandable” as a characteristic of information that is sufficiently complete to allow it to be interpreted, understood and used by the Designated Community without having to resort to special resources not widely available, including named individuals.
Why As the digital objects will be preserved for the long term, explanation needs to be added to keep the information in the digital object understandable for future users. What type of information needs to be added to the digital object depends on the type of material. Sometimes it will be enough to refer to specific metadata, other times more “representation information” will be needed (for example to explain the meaning of rows and columns in a spread sheet). It is important that an organisation develops a preservation policy that describes the intended actions the organization should take to achieve the independent understandability for its users.
Risks If the Designated Community does not fully understand the content and context of the digital objects, the information might be wrongly interpreted or not understood at all.
Life cycle stage Community Watch and Participation, Preservatin Planning, Appraisal and select, Ingest
Stakeholder Producer/Depositor: need to add information that supports the understanding of the information provided by the digital object
Management: responsible for the Designated Community
Collection Management (non Shaman): support management from point of view related to the content to preserve
Cross Reference Designated Community
Examples University of Utah, J. Willard Marriott Library: “The Library will strive to:
                        Comply with OAIS and other digital preservation standards and practices
                        Ensure that content remains readable and understandable
Source: Digital Preservation Policy (2012)
Control Policy It can be difficult to ascertain whether the content is understandable by the designated community, but proxy measures can be used, for example:
  • Number of tools available >= 3
  • Adoption of the file format is Good
  • FormatDocumentation is available
Questions to foster discussions
  • Is your organisation willing and has the resources to add information so that the digital object is fully understandable for the user community?
  • Has your organisation developed procedures to check whether the digital information is still “independently understandable” for the user community?
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