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Glossary Digital Continuity Definitions


  1. Archives and Recordkeeping Context: The "right, opportunity, [or] means of finding, using, or retrieving information". (ISO 15489-2001, Part 1, 3.1) OR The availability of records / archives for consultation as a result of both legal authorisation and the existence of finding aids. (International Council on Archives, Dictionary of Archival Terminology) Source: Continuum
  2. IT Context: The ability and means to communicate with or otherwise interact with a system in order to use system resources to either handle information or gain knowledge of the information the system contains. Source: itef rfc2828


Access Copy

  1. Copy made from a collection item for you to use so that the original item can be preserved and protected from damage. Source: NDHA


Access Policy

  1. A set of rules and guidelines that determine how the institution's collections, services, products and databases are accessed. Source: amended from NDHA


Access Rights

  1. The access available to system users attached to specific roles in the system. Source: NDHA

Alternate term: Permissions



  1. "A group of records or archives from the same source taken into archival custody at the same time. (v.) The process of formally accepting and recording the receipt of records into archival custody. Accessioning provides basic physical and intellectual control over material coming into an archives." (KA, p.460) Source: Continuum



  1. Items acquired for a library, or the department which acquires items for the library's collections. Source: NDHA



See Archival Information Package


Anonymous service

  1. A service that does not require the user to be identified or require protection of a user's identity. For example, access to publicly available online publications.



See Application Programming Interface


Application Programming Interface

  1. An application programming interface (API) is a set of definitions of the ways in which one piece of computer software communicates with another. Source: derived from NZFEAF-RM

Archival Information Package

  1. The contents derived from the Submission Information Package as represented in archival storage after additions, deletions and/or transformations are performed in the repository. Source: derived from OAIS

Archival Storage

  1. Digital Preservation Context: The capability that contains the services and functions used for the storage and retrieval of Archival Information Packages. Source: derived from OAIS
  2. Archival Context: Link to Continuum definition


  1. IT Context: (1) Noun: A collection of data that is stored for a relatively long period of time for historical and other purposes, such as to support audit service, availability service, or system integrity service.
  2. IT Context: (2) Verb: To store data in such a way. Source: itef rfc2828
  3. Archives and Recordkeeping Context: An organisation (or part of an organisation) responsible for appraising, acquiring, preserving and making material available. Source: derived from Continuum


  1. The procedure for transferring non-current information or data from the active system. Source: derived from Continuum

See Archive (IT context)

Arrangement and Description

  1. The intellectual process of describing and putting objects into order in accordance with accepted archival principles, particularly those of provenance and original order. Source: Continuum

See Description

Audit Trail

  1. A chronological record of system activities that is sufficient to enable the reconstruction and examination of the sequence of environments and activities surrounding or leading to an operation, procedure, or event in a security-relevant transaction from inception to final results. Source: itef rfc2828; "Glossary of Computer Security Terms", NCSC-TG-004, ver. 1, 21 Oct 1988. (Part of the Rainbow Series.)


  1. IT context: Process of establishing, to the required level of confidence, the identity of one or more parties to a transaction. Consists of identity management (establishing who you are) and logon management (confirming who you are).
  2. Of an Object: A mechanism that attempts to establish the authenticity of digital materials at a particular point in time. For example, digital signatures. Source: NDHA

Authentication key

  1. Method used by an individual to authenticate his or her identity over the Internet. Examples of authentication keys include passwords, one-time passwords, software tokens, hardware tokens and biometrics. Authentication keys are also referred to as keys.


  1. Digital Preservation Context: The extent to which one can be confident that digital material is what it purports to be. In the case of digital records, it refers to the trustworthiness of the digital record as a record. In the case of "born digital" and digitised materials, it refers to the fact that whatever is being cited is the same as it was when it was first created unless the accompanying metadata indicates any changes. Source: NDHA
  2. IT context: The property of being genuine and able to be verified and be trusted. Source: itef rfc2828
  3. Recordkeeping context: An authentic record is one that can be proven: To be what it purports to be, to have been created or sent by the person purported to have created or sent it, and to have been created or sent at the time purported. Source: ISO 15489


  1. An "authorisation" is a right or a permission that is granted to a system entity to access a system resource.
  2. An "authorisation process" is a procedure for granting such rights.
  3. To "authorise" means to grant such a right or permission. Source: itef rfc2828



  1. Contiguous or non-contiguous data within a file that has meaningful common properties for preservation purposes. Source: Amended from NDHA

Born Digital

  1. Relating to an object that is originally created in a digital format. Source: NDHA


  1. The intellectual process of describing objects in accordance with accepted library principles, particularly those of subject and classification order. Source: Working Group


  1. A computed value that is dependent upon the contents of a packet. Sent along with the packet when it is transmitted. The receiving system computes a new checksum based on data received, compares this value with the one sent with the packet. If the two values are the same, the receiver has a high degree of confidence that the data was received correctly. Source: NDHA


  1. "A description of a set of objects that share the same attributes, operations, methods, relationships and semantics. (ISO 11179-3) Classes are the 'blueprints' for objects. A class wraps attributes (data) and behaviours (methods or functions) into a single distinct entity. Objects are instances of classes. (Practical UML: A Hands-On Introduction for Developers)" Source: NZFEAF-RM


  1. An application component which requests services from a server. Source: TOGAF

Complex Digital Object

  1. A group of multiple digital entities that are managed and preserved as one or more groups. Source: NDHA

Conceptual Data Model

  1. "A data model that represents an abstract view of the real world. (ISO 11179-3) A higher-level data artefact that is often used to explore domain concepts with project stakeholders. Logical data models are often derived from conceptual data models. At this level, the data modeller attempts to identify the highest-level relationships among the different entities. (More: Conceptual, Logical and Physical Data Models)." Source: NZFEAF-RM


  1. Ensuring that information is accessible only to those authorised to have access (ISO). This is one of the cornerstones of information security. Source: derived from NZFEAF-RM


  1. The process of changing records from one format to another. (ISO 15489-2001, Part 1, 3.7) Source: Continuum


  1. Information in a specific physical representation, usually a sequence of symbols that have meaning; especially a representation of information that can be processed or produced by a computer. Source: itef rfc2828

Data Dictionary

  1. A formal repository of terms used to describe data. Source: OAIS

Data Management

  1. Principles, processes and systems for the sharing and management of data. (CMMI V1.1) Source: NZFEAF-RM


  1. A collection of data, usually presented in tabular form.


  1. The process of recording information about the nature and content of the records in archival custody. The description identifies such features as provenance, arrangement, format and contents, and presents them in a standardised form. (KA, p.467) Source: Continuum

See Arrangement, Finding Aids

Designated Community

  1. An identified group of potential users who should be able to understand a particular set of information. The Designated Community may be composed of multiple user communities. Source: derived from OAIS

Digital Archive

  1. A repository for the long-term maintenance of digital resources and making them available. Source: Working Group

Digital Continuity

  1. The ability to ensure digital information is accessible and usable by those that need it for as long as it is needed. Source: Digital Continuity Action Plan

Digital Object

  1. Digital objects are units of content managed by a digital archive. Digital objects have as one of their attributes an Identifier. They can be seen to be the atomic level of content. Smaller units can be contained within them, but the repository manages the digital object in a singular fashion.

See Identifier

Digital Preservation

  1. Principles, practices, methods, strategies and managed activities that ensure long term preservation for continued access to digital materials for as long as necessary. Source: NDHA derived from Digital Preservation Coalition

Digital Record

  1. A record that been created in a digital form.

See Record

Digital Rights Management

  1. An umbrella term referring to any of several technical methods used to control or restrict the use of digital content. Source: NZFEAF-RM

Digital Signature

  1. A value computed with a cryptographic algorithm and appended to a data object in such a way that any recipient of the data can use the signature to verify the data's origin and integrity. Source: itef rfc2828

Digital Surrogate

  1. Objects that are created as the result of converting analogue material to digital form. Source: NDHA


  1. The process of converting analogue/physical object into a digital format. Source: derived from NDHA


See Dissemination Information Package

Dissemination Information Package

  1. A set of content disseminated from the repository. It may contain one or more AIPs. A DIP disseminates all or part of a single AIP. Source: NDHA derived from OAIS

Dublin Core

  1. Dublin Core is a 15-element metadata element set intended to facilitate discovery of electronic resources. Dublin Core can also refer to the Dublin Core Metadata Initiative as an organization, or the wider set of properties and vocabularies maintained by DCMI. Source: NDHA


Electronic Records

See Digital Record


  1. Emulation occurs when a system or a program performs in the same way as another system or program. This makes one system functionally indistinguishable from another, e.g. entering, viewing and retrieving data has the same result in both systems. Often the subject for emulation is a popular but superceded computer. Source: Continuum

Event Metadata

  1. Metadata which provides an audit trail of actions by an agent on an object. Also known as Process Metadata. Source: derived from NDHA

eXtensible Markup Language 



  1. Recordkeeping Context:
    1. (n) An organised unit of documents, accumulated during current use and kept together because they deal with the same subject, activity or transaction and which may or may not be fastened together with or without a cover. The unit may be paper or electronic.
    2. (v) The action of placing documents in a predetermined location according to an overall scheme of control. (KA, p.470) Source: Continuum
  2. IT Context: A file is a named and ordered sequence of bytes that is known by an operating system. One or more files compose any given Representation.[52] Source: NDHA


  1. The condition of not being liable to displacement or change; stability or permanence in situation, condition, or form. Source: OED

Fixity Check

  1. Process of verifying that a file or bitstream has not been changed during a given period. Source: NDHA

Fixity Information

  1. A stored value, derived from the file properties, that is used as a basis for assuring physical file integrity. Source: derived from NDHA

See Checksum


  1. Specific, pre-established structure for the organisation of a file or bitstream. Source: NDHA

Format Registry

  1. An accessible compilation of information on file formats. It can provide identifiers for formats, definitive names, methods of identification, descriptions and other information. Source: Working Group

Format Verification

  1. Process of checking that a file in a given format is complete and conforms with the format’s technical specification. Source: NDHA


  1. An identifier is a language-independent label, sign or token that identifies an object from another object.

See Unique Identifier, Persistent Identifier


  1. A set of attributes and/or data linked to an individual person.


See Intellectual Entity


  1. The process by which a digital file is accepted and loaded into a digital store, together with its descriptive information for subsequent retrieval. Source: derived from OAIS

Intellectual Entity (IE)

  1. A coherent set of digital objects or a singular digital object that is described as a unit, for example, a book, a map, a photograph, or a serial. Source: NDHA


  1. Keywords are used to retrieve documents in an information system, for instance, a catalog or a search engine.

Knowledge Base

  1. A set of information, incorporated by a person or system, that allows that person or system to understand received information. Source: OAIS


  1. In computer networking, the Lightweight Directory Access Protocol is a standardised networking protocol designed for querying and modifying directory services. LDAP defines a relatively simple protocol for updating and searching directories running over TCP/IP. No specific type of directory is an 'LDAP directory'. LDAP directory entries feature a hierarchical structure that reflects political, geographic and/or organisational boundaries, usually with DNS names at the top level. Source: NZFEAF-RM

Legacy System

  1. Previous generation/version information technology architectures and their contents, this can include paper-based systems. Source: Continuum

Legal Deposit

  1. Legal deposit within the National Library Act 2003 is the provision requiring publishers to provide copies of New Zealand publications to the National Library of New Zealand for addition to its collections. Legal Deposit applies to any person, group or organisation that publishes material in New Zealand, for sale or free of charge, to any section of the public. Legal Deposit provisions apply to printed and offline electronic materials (for example, CDs, DVDs, videos) Legal Deposit provisions also apply to internet documents. Source: NDHA

Malicious code attacks

  1. Attacks that are generally aimed at the customer's computing environment. They vary in their sophistication from simple keystroke loggers to advanced Trojan programs that can gain control of the customer's computer. Malicious code attacks may also be aimed at verifier systems.

Man-in-the-middle attacks

  1. Where an attacker inserts him/herself between the customer and the verifier in an authentication exchange. The attacker attempts to authenticate to both parties by posing as the customer to the verifier and the verifier to the customer.


  1. Structured information that describes and/or allows users to find, manage, control, understand or preserve information over time. Source: ICA req

Metadata Encoding and Transmission Standard (METS)

  1. METS is a standard for encoding descriptive, administrative, and structural metadata about objects within a digital library, expressed using XML. Source: NDHA


Migration (digital preservation)

  1. Set of organised tasks designed to achieve the periodic transfer of digital materials from one hardware or software configuration to another, or from one generation of computer technology to a subsequent generation.


Migration (recordkeeping)

  1. The "act of moving records from one system to another, while maintaining the records' authenticity, integrity, reliability, and usability". (ISO 15489-2001, Part 1, 3.13) Source: Continuum


  1. Convert data objects from a wide range of formats to a selected range of formats better suited to long term preservation. Source: NAA


  1. The Open Archives Initiative Protocol for Metadata Harvesting (OAI-PMH) is a lightweight harvesting protocol for sharing metadata between services. In the OAI context, harvesting refers specifically to the gathering together of metadata from a number of distributed repositories into a combined data store. Source: OAI



  1. Online Public Access Catalogue. Online access to the bibliographic records and holdings details of a library or group of libraries. Source: NDHA

Open Archival Information System (OAIS)

  1. An archive, consisting of an organization of people and systems, that has accepted the responsibility to preserve information and make it available for a Designated Community. It meets a set of responsibilities, as defined in 3.1, that allows an OAIS archive to be distinguished from other uses of the term 'archive'. The term 'Open' in OAIS is used to imply that this Recommendation and future related Recommendations and standards are developed in open forums, and it does not imply that access to the archive is unrestricted. Source: OAIS

Open Systems

  1. "Systems (usually operating systems) that are not tied to a particular computer system or hardware manufacturer. An example is the UNIX operating system, with versions available for a wide variety of hardware platforms." (DIRKS, Glossary, p.10) Source: Continuum


  1. OpenURL is an "actionable" URL that transports resource metadata. Source: derived from NDHA

Optical Disk

  1. A specially coated disk onto which information is recorded in analogue or digital form by a laser. The information can be retrieved by having a laser read the disk and the result decoded. Source: derived from Continuum


  1. Library context: Access conditions specified by the creator or donor of the object.
  2. Recordkeeping context: The security clearance or other accreditation of an agent or business function or activity that determines its access and use rights to records.
  3. IT context: Permissions are a mechanism for administering access to a specific object and is specified for the specific object. Depending on the system or application, permissions can be defined for a specific user, specific groups of users, or all users; or for a role, or groups of roles; or based on one or more user attributes. In this context, access refers to a type of access e.g. read. Originally, permissions were a mechanism for controlling access to files, but has broadened include other digital objects. Permissions is sometimes used interchangeably with the term Access Rights, and can lead to confusion. OASIS uses the term rule in place of: permission, privilege, authorisation, entitlement and right.


Persistent Identifier

  1. A persistent identifier is a language-independent label, sign or token that identifies an object from another object that cannot be changed over time.

See Identifier, Unique Identifier

Physical Object

  1. An object (such as a moon rock, bio-specimen, microscope slide) with physically observable properties that represent information that is considered suitable for being adequately documented for preservation, distribution, and independent usage. Source: OAIS

PREMIS: Preservation Metadata Implementation Strategies

  1. The PREMIS working group has established a data model and data dictionary for preservation metadata. Source: NDHA



  1. The processes and operations in ensuring the technical and intellectual survival of objects through time. Source: derived from Continuum

Preservation Repository

  1. A repository that intends to preserve and manage content to enable access in perpetuity. Source: Working Group


  1. A set of authorizations to perform security-relevant functions, especially in the context of a computer operating system. Modified source: itef rfc2828


  1. The role played by those persons, organisations or client systems, who provide the information to be preserved. Source: derived from OAIS


  1. Provenance means the origin, or the source of something, or the history of the ownership or location of an object. The term is used in a wide range of professional fields including, art collection, archival management, librarianship, computing and law. In most fields, the primary purpose of provenance is to confirm or gather evidence as to the time, place, and - when appropriate - the person responsible for the creation, production, or discovery of the object.

RDF (Resource Description Framework)

  1. A family of specifications for a metadata model. The RDF family of specifications is maintained by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). The RDF metadata model is based upon the idea of making statements about resources in the form of a subject-predicate-object expression and is a major component in what is proposed by the W3C's Semantic Web activity: an evolutionary stage of the World Wide Web in which automated software can store, exchange and utilise metadata about the vast resources of the Web, in turn enabling users to deal with those resources with greater efficiency and certainty. RDF's simple data model and ability to model disparate, abstract concepts has also led to its increasing use in knowledge management applications unrelated to Semantic Web activity. Source: NZFEAF-RM

See Semantic Web



  1. Copying information content from one storage medium to a different storage medium (media reformatting) or converting from one file format to a different file format (file re-formatting). Source: NDHA


  1. Copying information content from one storage media to the same storage media [111] Source: NDHA


  1. To process a digital object (generally with a software application) in order to view, listen to, or interact with the content. This is usually done in a fashion consistent with the format encoding of the file.


  1. An instance of an Intellectual Entity containing the set of stored files and metadata needed to provide a complete and reasonable rendition of that Intellectual Entity for either preservation or access purposes. Source: NDHA

Representation Information

  1. The information that maps a Data Object into more meaningful concepts. An example is the ASCII definition that describes how a sequence of bits (i.e., a Data Object) is mapped into a symbol. Source: OAIS

Security Assertion Markup Language (SAML)

  1. An XML-based standard that defines messages for communicating a range of security-related statements about individual parties, including their authentication.

Semantic Web

  1. Refers to a suite of technologies that aim to enhance the performance of the Internet for the functions of businesses, organisations and individuals by increasing capabilities to interpret and determine meaning in web-based data and information. Source: NZFEAF-RM



  1. An application component which responds to requests from a client. Source: TOGAF

Simple Digital Object

  1. A single digital entity (i.e. file). Source: NDHA

Structure Information

  1. The information that imparts meaning about how other information is organized. For example, it maps bit streams to common computer types such as characters, numbers, and pixels and aggregations of those types such as character strings and arrays. Source: OAIS

Submission Information Package (SIP)

  1. An Information Package that is delivered by the Producer to the OAIS for use in the construction of one or more AIPs. Source: OAIS


  1. IT Context: An exchange of information between two or more services (or an entity and a service) in the performance of an operation or function. (DRM/SF usage) Source: NZFEAF-RM
  2. Recordkeeping Context: "[T]he smallest unit of business activity. Uses of records are themselves transactions." (AS 4390-1996, Part 1, 4.27): Source: Continuum


  1. A migration of content from one format to another format. Source: Working Group

Unique Identifier

  1. A unique identifier is a language-independent label, sign or token that uniquely identifies an object from another object.

See Identifier

Web Curator Tool

  1. A tool developed by NLNZ and the British Library for harvesting web sites under the auspices of the International Internet Preservation Consortium. Source: NDHA


  1. XML is an abbreviation for eXtensible Markup Language, a computer language for enriching data with information about structure and meaning. It is an open standard, defined by the World Wide Web Consortium and is platform independent.

XML Document

  1. A storage unit (i.e. a file) containing XML markup and content. Source: derived from NZFEAF-RM

XML Schema

  1. Defines the vocabulary (elements and attributes), the content model (structure, element nesting and text content) and data types (value constraints) of a class of XML documents. Source: derived from NZFEAF-RM


  1. XML Query (XQuery) is a query language with some programming language features designed to query collections of XML data. Source: derived from NZFEAF-RM


  1. XSL Transformations (XSLT) is an XML-based, declarative language used for the transformation of XML documents. The original document is not changed; rather, a new XML document is created based on the content of the original document. Source: NZFEAF-RM