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Registry of Archival Masters of Digital Monographs and Serials

Functional Requirements

Dale Flecker
December, 2001


This document offers a functional specification for a registry that records information about archival masters of monographs and serials published in digital format (note this is a companion to a parallel specification for digitally reformatted monographs and serials PROVIDE POINTER). It has been produced as part of the DLF's work in the archiving and preservation of e-journals.

Data registered

The Registry must have the ability to record (or, in some instances, to link to) the following information:

Bibliographic Description. Masters should be described following bibliographic conventions used in contemporary cataloging "utilities" and integrated library systems. Given that e-journals and e-monographs are very likely already cataloged in traditional library format, this should be an easy and inexpensive process based on copying existing data.

Precise Holdings. For multi-volume and "continuing" works such as journals, a description should be recorded in standard holdings notation of the precise issues and volumes being archived. When archiving is an on-going process, an "open" holdings statement is used. This statement should be "closed" (indicate last issue archived) if the archiving institution stops adding data toits collection. If forms of "compressed" holding statements are used, they MUST be understood to imply that every volume and issue of the encompassed run has been digitized. If a "compressed" holding is used for an incomplete run, an unambiguous indication of incompleteness must be included.

Information About Archival Master Copy. The following information should be recorded about the archival master copy:

  • a persistent identifier for the master object (this does not need to be an "actionable" link such as an URL or URN -- just an unambiguous identifier that the owner will recognize);
  • a textual description of the accessibility of the Archival Master Copy (who can access it and under what terms and conditions);
  • a description or a pointer (such as a URL or a standard identifier) to a description of the technical standards used for the Archival Master Copy.
  • a description or a pointer to a description (such as a URL or a standard identifier) of the repository practices being followed in the storage and maintenance of the Master Copy (as noted efforts are currently underway to define best practices in this area.).
    If URLs are used to point to external descriptions of practice in any of the fields above, the recording institution must assume the responsibility of maintaining the validity of the link.

Information from Multiple Sources

There will be many cases in which more than one institution will need to register Archival Master copies of the same bibliographic item. There may be instances in which two institutions archive the same item in different formats or to different standards. The Registry should provide a unified and coherent view of all digital versions registered


Records of registered materials must be interactively searchable through standard information retrieval queries based on normal MARC bibliographic elements. This search facility is primarily intended for use by trained staff looking to see if a known item has been archived If registered materials are integrated into a larger bibliographic file, searching must provide the ability to limit results to registered digital copies. Because searching is only intended to support library staff, a naïve general user interface is not required.

Easy accessibility should be provided to the entire international library community as well as to other institutions and companies (both commercial and non-commercial) engaged in digital archiving efforts.

Visibility as entity

It is important that the Registry be visible and have a recognized name to encourage contribution and use. While it is highly desirable that registered data be accessible as part of a larger bibliographic file, some means of identifying the Registry (including, but not limited to, the ability to access only registered materials in searching and harvesting as discussed above) and making its utility visible should be provided.

Input and Maintenance

Data input and maintenance should be available through both interactive on-line transactions for individual records, and in batch mode for groups of records. A "derive" function, allowing the majority of the bibliographic description of materials to be copied from existing records, is highly desirable. It is expected that the original registering institution will need to be able to update information in the Registry after initial input, to record such things as additional volumes archived, and changes in the format of master copies. The ability to contribute and maintain data should be easily and readily available to the entire library community and to other institutions and companies (both commercial and non-commercial) engaged in digital publishing and archiving.

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