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All readers should read the Purpose and Scope (1.1), Applicability (1.2), and Conformance (1.4) subsections to obtain a view on the objectives and applicability of the document.

Those who want just an overview of the major concepts should also read OAIS Concepts (section 2) and OAIS Responsibilities (section 3).

Those who will implement OAIS Archives or administer them on a daily basis should read the entire document.


Section 1 provides purpose, scope, applicability, and definitions sections typical of many standards. It also provides rationale for the effort, conformance requirements, and a road map for development of related standards.

Section 2 provides a high-level overview of the major concepts involved in an OAIS Archive. It provides a view of the environment of an OAIS Archive and the roles played by those who interact with it. It discusses what is meant by ‘information’ and what is necessary to preserve it for the Long Term. It contains key information concepts relevant to OAIS- conforming implementations.

Section 3 describes the responsibilities required of an OAIS. Subsection 3.1 defines mandatory responsibilities an OAIS Archive must discharge in preserving its information, and 3.2 provides clarifying material of the types of activities that may be needed in many Archives to discharge these responsibilities.

Section 4 provides model views needed for a detailed understanding of an OAIS Archive. It breaks down the OAIS into a number of functional areas and it identifies some high-level services at the interfaces. It also provides detailed data model views of information using Unified Modeling Language (UML) diagrams.

Section 5 provides some perspectives on the issues of information preservation using digital migration across media and across new formats or representations. It also provides some perspectives on the issues of preserving access services to digital information using software porting, wrapping, and emulation of hardware.

Section 6 is an introduction to the various alternatives for Archive-to-Archive associations to provide increased or more cost-effective services.

The annexes B-F are not part of the Recommendation and are provided for the convenience of the reader:

– annex A provides a composite diagram of the detailed functional areas described in 4.1;

– annex B relates parts of this reference model to other standards work;

– annex C provides a brief tutorial on the Unified Modeling Language (UML);

– annex D provides a list of informative references;

– annex E provides a layered model of information;

– annex F provides an overview of security considerations.

Except where indicated otherwise, diagrams show entities such as people or organisations as square cornered rectangles, functions or functional entities as rounded rectangles with information between them as arrows, and special information objects as ellipses.

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