Digital Preservation Glossary

PARSE.Insight Glossary

The following list of terms has been created from other publicly available lists of digital preservation terms and definitions. Links to the references are provided at the end of the page.


A - - - - -


  • As defined in the handbook, access is assumed to mean continued, ongoing usability of a digital resource, retaining all qualities of authenticity, accuracy and functionality deemed to be essential for the purposes the digital material was created and/or acquired for. DPC

  • 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
  • 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 ANZ

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

Access Functional Entity: The OAIS functional entity that contains the services and functions which make the archival information holdings and related services visible to Consumers. OAIS

Access Policy:

  • Written statement authorized by the repository management that describes the approach to be taken by the repository for providing access to objects accessioned into the repository. The Access Policy may distinguish between different types of access rights, for example between system administrators, Designated Communities and general users. OAIS
  • A set of rules and guidelines that determine how the institution's collections, services, products and databases are accessed. Source: amended from NDHA ANZ

Access Rights Information: The information that identifies the access restrictions pertaining to the Content Information, including the legal framework, licensing terms, and access control. It contains the access and distribution conditions stated within the Submission Agreement, related to both preservation (by the OAIS) and final usage (by the Consumer). It also includes the specifications for the application of rights enforcement measures. OAIS

Access Aid: A software program or document that allows Consumers to locate, analyze, order or retrieve Archival Information Packages of interest. OAIS

Access Collection: A collection of AIPs that is defined by a Collection Description but for which there is no Packaging Information for the collection in Archival Storage. OAIS

Access Rights: The access available to system users attached to specific roles in the system. Source: NDHA ANZ

Access Software: A type of software that presents part of or all of the information content of an Information Object in forms understandable to humans or systems. OAIS

Accession: "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 ANZ

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

Active Records: Those records required for the day-to-day functioning of an agency or person. Also referred to as current records. Source: S2 - Storage Standard ANZ

Adhoc Order: A request that is generated by a Consumer for information the OAIS has indicated is currently available. OAIS

Administration Functional Entity: The OAIS functional entity that contains the services and functions needed to control the operation of the other OAIS functional entities on a day-to-day basis. OAIS

Administrative History: "That part of a finding aid that describes: 1) the history of an agency or a group of related agencies, its organisational structure and functional responsibilities; or 2) the highlights of the life and career of a person or family. The administrative history of a person is also referred to as a biographical note." (KA, p.461) Source: Continuum ANZ

Agency: In the GAIMS system of archival description, this refers to "a body, business, organisation or institution that creates or manages its own records in the course of its business or activities. In the case of large organisations or institutions, subordinate parts such as departments, sections, units, regional or branch offices may be regarded as separate agencies." (KA, p.461) Source: Continuum ANZ

AIP Edition: An AIP whose Content Information or Preservation Description Information has been upgraded or improved with the intent not to preserve information, but to increase or improve it. An AIP edition is not considered to be the result of a Migration. OAIS

AIP Version: An AIP whose Content Information or Preservation Description Information has undergone a Transformation on a source AIP and is a candidate to replace the source AIP. An AIP version is considered to be the result of a Digital Migration. OAIS

Appraisal: The process of evaluation to determine whether records are needed by a public office or local authority and how long they should be kept. Appraisal involves deciding which records of an organisation are retained permanently as public archives, and which records are destroyed once the organisation's business and accountability requirements have been met. This is based on analysing the organisation's business activities, while weighing up community expectations about permanent retention of those records. Source: Continuum ANZ

Archival Information Collection (AIC): An Archival Information Package whose Content Information is an aggregation of other Archival Information Packages. OAIS

Archival Information Package (AIP):

  • An Information Package, consisting of the Content Information and the associated Preservation Description Information (PDI), which is preserved within an OAIS. OAIS
  • 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 ANZ

Archival Information Unit (AIU): An Archival Information Package where the archive chooses not to break down the Content Information into other Archival Information Packages. An AIU can consist of multiple digital objects (e.g., multiple files). OAIS

Archival Storage (Functional Entity): The OAIS functional entity that contains the services and functions used for the storage and retrieval of Archival Information Packages. OAIS


  • An organization that intends to preserve information for access and use by a Designated Community. OAIS
  • An organisation (or part of an organisation) responsible for appraising, acquiring, preserving and making material available. Source: derived from Continuum ANZ

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

Archival Value: "The values [...] that justify the continuing retention of records as archives.Evidential value. The value for providing evidence of the origins, structure, functions, policies and operations of the person or agency that created the records. [...] Informational value. The value for reference or research deriving from the information the records contain, as distinct from their evidential value. Records and archives often contain information that has reference or research uses not envisaged by its creators. Also referred to as secondary value. [...]" (KA, p.462) Source: Continuum ANZ

Arrangement: "The intellectual and physical process of putting archives and records into order in accordance with accepted archival principles, particularly those of provenance and original order." (KA, p.464) Source: Continuum ANZ

Associated Description: The information describing the content of an Information Package from the point of view of a particular Access Aid. OAIS

Audit Trail: 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.) ANZ


  • A mechanism which attempts to establish the authenticity of digital materials at a particular point in time. For example, digital signatures. DPC
  • 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). ANZ


  • The degree to which a person (or system) regards an object as what it is purported to be. Authenticity is judged on the basis of evidence. OAIS
  • The digital material is what it purports to be. In the case of electronic records, it refers to the trustworthiness of the electronic 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. Confidence in the authenticity of digital materials over time is particularly crucial owing to the ease with which alterations can be made. DPC
  • 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 ANZ
  • IT context: The property of being genuine and able to be verified and be trusted. Source: itef rfc2828 ANZ
  • 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 ANZ

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

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

Born Digital:

  • Digital materials which are not intended to have an analogue equivalent, either as the originating source or as a result of conversion to analogue form.This term has been used in the handbook to differentiate them from 1) digital materials which have been created as a result of converting analogue originals; and 2) digital materials, which may have originated from a digital source but have been printed to paper, e.g. some electronic records. DPC
  • Relating to an object that is originally created in a digital format. Source: NDHA ANZ

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

Certification Body: third party that assesses and certifies the digital repository of a client organization. OAIS

Checksum: 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 ANZ

Class: "A group of documents or an identifiable sub-division of a series, record group or archive having common characteristics or the same archival value. Sometimes this term is used to mean series. Also referred to as disposal class." (KA, p.465) Source: Continuum ANZ

Classification: The "systematic identification and arrangement of business activities and/or records into categories according to logically structured conventions, methods, and procedural rules represented in a classification system". (ISO 15489-2001, Part 1, 3.5) Source: Continuum ANZ

Collection Description: A type of Package Description that is specialized to provide information about an Archival Information Collection for use by Access Aids. OAIS

Common Services: The supporting services such as inter-process communication, name services, temporary storage allocation, exception handling, security, and directory services necessary to support the OAIS. OAIS

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

Conceptual Data Model: "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 ANZ

Consumer: The role played by those persons, or client systems, who interact with OAIS services to find preserved information of interest and to access that information in detail. This can include other OAISes, as well as internal OAIS persons or systems. OAIS

Content Data Object: The Data Object, that together with associated Representation Information, comprises the Content Information. OAIS

Content Information: A set of information that is the original target of preservation or that includes part or all of that information. It is an Information Object composed of its Content Data Object and its Representation Information. OAIS

Context: "The knowledge necessary to sustain a record's meaning or evidential value. Context describes the who, what, where and why of record creation and management." (SRNSW) Source: Continuum ANZ

Context Information: The information that documents the relationships of the Content Information to its environment. This includes why the Content Information was created and how it relates to other Content Information objects. OAIS

Controlling Organisation: The organisation that controls the record, including any successor to the organisation that created or maintained the record. Source: Disposal Standard ANZ

Conversion: The process of changing records from one medium to another or from one format to another. (ISO 15489-2001, Part 1, 3.7) Conversion may also be used as part of a preservation strategy. Source: Continuum ANZ

Co-operating Archives: Those archives that have Designated Communities with related interests. They may order and ingest data from each other. At a minimum, Co-operating Archives must agree to support at least one common Submission Information Package (SIP) and Dissemination Information Package (DIP) for inter-archive requests. OAIS

Creator: The person or agency which creates, receives and accumulates or otherwise brings into existence documents and records. (KA, p.466) Source: Continuum ANZ

Custody: "The physical management of records or archives. Custody refers to where and with whom records are stored. It does not necessarily include legal ownership." (AAHA, p.111) Source: Continuum ANZ

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  • A reinterpretable representation of information in a formalized manner suitable for communication, interpretation, or processing. Examples of data include a sequence of bits, a table of numbers, the characters on a page, the recording of sounds made by a person speaking, or a moon rock specimen. OAIS
  • 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 ANZ

Data Dictionary: A formal repository of terms used to describe data. OAIS

Data Dissemination Session: A delivery of media or a single telecommunications session that provides Data to a Consumer. The Data Dissemination Session format/contents is based on a data model negotiated between the OAIS and the Consumer in the request agreement. This data model identifies the logical constructs used by the OAIS and how they are represented on each media delivery or in the telecommunication session. OAIS

Data Management (Functional Entity):

  • The OAIS functional entity that contains the services and functions for populating, maintaining, and accessing a wide variety of information. Some examples of this information are catalogs and inventories on what may be retrieved from Archival Storage, processing algorithms that may be run on retrieved data, Consumer access statistics, Consumer billing, Event Based Orders, security controls, and OAIS schedules, policies, and procedures. OAIS
  • Principles, processes and systems for the sharing and management of data. (CMMI V1.1) Source: NZFEAF-RM ANZ

Data Management Data: The data created and stored in Data Management persistent storage that refer to operation of an archive. Some examples of this data are accounting data for Consumer billing and authorization, policy data, Event Based Order (subscription) data for repeating requests, preservation process history data, and statistical data for generating reports to archive management. OAIS

Data Object: Either a Physical Object or a Digital Object. OAIS

Dataset: A collection of data, usually presented in tabular form. ANZ

Data storage device: Data storage device means any article or device (for example, a disk) from which information is capable of being reproduced, with or without the aid of any other article or device. Electronic Transactions Act 2002 ANZ

Data Submission Session: A delivery of media or a single telecommunications session that provides Data to an OAIS. The Data Submission Session format/contents is based on a data model negotiated between the OAIS and the Producer in the Submission Agreement. This data model identifies the logical constructs used by the Producer and how they are represented on each media delivery or in the telecommunication session. OAIS

Deaccession: "The process of removing material from the care and custody of an archives, either because the material has been reappraised and found to be unsuitable for the archives' holdings, or because the legal owner has requested its return, or because it has been agreed to transfer it to another archives. Deaccessioning is a serious matter which requires careful consideration and documentation." (KA, p.466) Source: Continuum ANZ

Derived AIP: An AIP generated by extracting or aggregating information from one or more source AIPs. OAIS

Deposit: "An addition to the holdings or collection of an archives. A deposit is usually a transfer of material but may also be a donation or a loan for either a short-term or indefinite period." (KA, p.467) Source: Continuum ANZ

Description: 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 ANZ

Descriptive Information: The set of information, consisting primarily of Package Descriptions, which is provided to Data Management to support the finding, ordering, and retrieving of OAIS information holdings by Consumers. OAIS

Designated Community: An identified group of potential Consumers who should be able to understand a particular set of information. The Designated Community may be composed of multiple user communities. A Designated Community is defined by the archive and this definition may change over time. OAIS

Destruction: "The physical disposal of records of no further value, for example by incineration, shredding or pulping [or deleting from an electronic system]." (KA, p.467) Source: Continuum ANZ

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

Digital Archiving This term is used very differently within sectors.The library and archiving communities often use it interchangeably with digital preservation. Computing professionals tend to use digital archiving to mean the process of backup and ongoing maintenance as opposed to strategies for long-term digital preservation. It is this latter richer definition, as defined under digital preservation which has been used throughout this handbook. DPC

Digital Continuity: 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 ANZ

Digital Materials A broad term encompassing digital surrogates created as a result of converting analogue materials to digital form (digitisation), and "born digital" for which there has never been and is never intended to be an analogue equivalent, and digital records. DPC

Digital Migration: The transfer of digital information, while intending to preserve it, within the OAIS. It is distinguished from transfers in general by three attributes:

– a focus on the preservation of the full information content that needs preservation;

– a perspective that the new archival implementation of the information is a replacement for the old; and

– an understanding that full control and responsibility over all aspects of the transfer resides with the OAIS. OAIS

Digital Object:

  • An object composed of a set of bit sequences. OAIS
  • 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. ANZ

Digital Preservation

  • Refers to the series of managed activities necessary to ensure continued access to digital materials for as long as necessary. Digital preservation is defined very broadly for the purposes of this study and refers to all of the actions required to maintain access to digital materials beyond the limits of media failure or technological change.Those materials may be records created during the day-to-day business of an organisation;"born-digital" materials created for a specific purpose (e.g. teaching resources); or the products of digitisation projects.This handbook specifically excludes the potential use of digital technology to preserve the original artefacts through digitisation. See also Digitisation definition below. DPC
  • 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 ANZ

Digital Publications "Born digital" objects which have been released for public access and either made available or distributed free of charge or for a fee. They may consist of networked publications, available over a communications network or physical format publications which are distributed on formats such as floppy or optical disks.They may also be either static or dynamic. DPC

Digital Records

  • A record that been created in a digital form. ANZ
  • See Electronic Records DPC

Digital Resources See Digital Materials DPC

Digital Rights:

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

Digital Signature: 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 ANZ

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


  • The process of creating digital files by scanning or otherwise converting analogue materials.The resulting digital copy, or digital surrogate, would then be classed as digital material and then subject to the same broad challenges involved in preserving access to it, as "born digital" materials. DPC
  • The process of converting analogue/physical object into a digital format. Source: derived from NDHA ANZ

Disposal: The range of processes associated with implementing records retention, destruction or transfer decisions which are documented in a disposal authority. Section 4 of the Public Records Act 2005 outlines the possible types of disposal as: the transfer of control of a record; or the sale, alteration, destruction, or discharge of a record. Source: Disposal Standard ANZ

Disposal Schedule: "A systematic listing of records created by an organisation or agency which plans the life of these records from the time of their creation to their disposal. A disposal schedule is a continuing authority for implementing decisions on the value of records specified in the schedule. A disposal schedule lists: the records created by the agency; the retention period for each series or class of records. the disposal sentence for each series or class of records, specifying whether the records are to be retained as archives or destroyed; the custody arrangements for each series or class of records, specifying when the records are to be transferred to intermediate storage and/or to archives; General disposal schedules cover functions common to a number of agencies, typically used by government archival authorities to cover functional areas such as Personnel, Finance and Stores. A recent development in appraisal methodology is the view that functional analysis is more efficient than records analysis in producing records schedules. The resultant disposal schedules are based on function or activity within function, either across a range of related organisations or to provide a specific disposal schedule for a particular agency." (KA, p.468) Source: Continuum ANZ

Dissemination Information Package (DIP): An Information Package, derived from one or more AIPs, received by the Consumer in response to a request to the OAIS. OAIS


  • The information provided by a creator and the repository which provides enough information to establish provenance, history and context and to enable its use by others. See also Metadata. "At a minimum, documentation should provide information about a data collection's contents, provenance and structure, and the terms and conditions that apply to its use. It needs to be sufficiently detailed to allow the data creator to use the material in the future, when the data creation process has started to fade from memory. It also needs to be comprehensive enough to enable others to explore the resource fully, and detailed enough to allow someone who has not been involved in the data creation process to understand the data collection and the process by which it was created." (History Data Service) DPC
  • "Recorded information regardless of medium or form. The smallest complete unit of record material, e.g. a letter, photograph, report." (KA, p.468) Source: Continuum ANZ

Dublin Core: 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 ANZ

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Electronic Records

  • Records created digitally in the day-to-day business of the organisation and assigned formal status by the organisation.They may include for example, word processing documents, emails, databases, or intranet web pages. DPC
  • "Records capable of being processed in a computer system and/or stored at any instant in a medium which requires electronic or computer equipment to retrieve them." (KA, p.469) Includes the digitised form of paper records. Source: Continuum ANZ


  • A means of overcoming technological obsolescence of hardware and software by developing techniques for imitating obsolete systems on future generations of computers. DPC
  • 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 ANZ

Ephemeral Records: Records that are characterised by their trivial nature or very short term value, and so do not need to be captured into a recordkeeping system or retained for any period of time. For example, low level meeting notices, minor catering arrangements, duplicate copies of records already captured in a recordkeeping system. Source: Disposal Standard ANZ

Event Based Order: A request that is generated by a Consumer for information that is to be delivered periodically on the basis of some event or events. OAIS

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

F - - - - -

Federated Archives: A group of archives that has agreed to provide access to their holdings via one or more common finding aids. OAIS

File: 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. (v) The action of placing documents in a predetermined location according to an overall scheme of control. (KA, p.470) Source: Continuum. 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 ANZ

Finding Aid:

  • A type of Access Aid that allows a user to search for and identify Archival Information Packages of interest. OAIS
  • "The descriptive media, published and unpublished, manual or electronic, created by an archives or an archival programme, to establish physical or administrative and intellectual control over records and other holdings. Finding aids lead both archives staff and users to the information they are seeking from or about archives. Basic finding aids include guides (general or repository, subject or topical), descriptive inventories, series registers, accession registers, card catalogues, special lists, shelf and box lists, indexes, and, for machine-readable records, software documentation. The registers, indexes and filing system guides produced by the agency or person who created the records, also referred to as control records or contemporaneous finding aids. (KA, p.471) Source: Continuum ANZ

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

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

Fixity Information:

  • The information which documents the mechanisms that ensure that the Content Information object has not been altered in an undocumented manner. An example is a Cyclical Redundancy Check (CRC) code for a file. OAIS
  • A stored value, derived from the file properties, that is used as a basis for assuring physical file integrity. Source: derived from NDHA ANZ


  • Specific, pre-established structure for the organisation of a file or bitstream. Source: NDHA ANZ
  • "The physical medium in which information is recorded or carried, e.g. paper files, computer printout, photographs, microfilm, [electronic] records, plans, cards, volumes, etc. A selection of descriptive elements set out in a prescribed manner and sequence so that the resulting description will be standardised for all types of records." (KA, p.471) Source: Continuum ANZ

Format Registry: 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 ANZ

Format Verification: Process of checking that a file in a given format is complete and conforms with the format's technical specification. Source: NDHA AHM

G - - - - -

Global Community: An extended Consumer community, in the context of Federated Archives, that accesses the holdings of several archives via one or more common Finding Aids. OAIS

H - - - - -

I - - - - - Identifier: An identifier is a language-independent label, sign or token that identifies an object from another object. ANZ

Independently Understandable: 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. OAIS

Indexing: The "process of establishing access points to facilitate retrieval of records and/or information". (ISO 15489-2001, Part 1, 3.11) Source: Continuum ANZ

Information: Any type of knowledge that can be exchanged. In an exchange, it is represented by data. An example is a string of bits (the data) accompanied by a description of how to interpret the string of bits as numbers representing temperature observations measured in degrees Celsius (the Representation Information). OAIS

Information Object: A Data Object together with its Representation Information. OAIS

Information Package: A conceptual container composed of optional Content Information and optional associated Preservation Description Information. Associated with this Information Package is Packaging Information used to delimit and identify the Content Information and Package Description information used to facilitate searches for the Content Information. OAIS

Information Property: That part of the Content Information as described by the Information Property Description. The detailed expression, or value, of that part of the information content is conveyed by the appropriate parts of the Content Data Object and its Representation Information. OAIS

Information Property Description: The description of the Information Property. It is a description of a part of the information content of a Content Information object that is highlighted for a particular purpose. OAIS

Ingest (Functional Entity):

  • The OAIS functional entity that contains the services and functions that accept Submission Information Packages from Producers, prepares Archival Information Packages for storage, and ensures that Archival Information Packages and their supporting Descriptive Information become established within the OAIS. OAIS
  • 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 ANZ

Intellectual Control: "The control established over the informational content of records and archives resulting from ascertaining and documenting their provenance, and from the processes of arrangement and description." (KA, p.472) Source: Continuum ANZ

Intellectual Entity: 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 ANZ

Interoperability: The ability of independent systems to exchange meaningful information and initiate actions from each other, in order to operate together to mutual benefit. In particular, it envisages the ability for loosely-coupled independent systems to be able to collaborate and communicate (Norman Paskin). APARSEN

Interoperability Objects: These are the entities that actually need to be processed in interoperability scenarios. They can include for example the full content of digital resources or mere representations of such resources (i.e. metadata, identifiers). APARSEN

Interoperability Level: The level of abstraction on which the interoperability issue is conceived. APARSEN

Examples are:

  • Syntactical Interoperability is usually associated with data formats and protocols and refers to the ability of two or more systems of communicating and exchanging data. Syntactical interoperability is a kind of technical interoperability, which covers the technical issues of linking computer systems and services. It includes key aspects such as open interfaces, interconnection services, data integration and middleware, data presentation and exchange, accessibility and security services.
  • Semantic Interoperability is usually associated with the meaning of content and concerns the ability of two or more systems to automatically interpret the information exchanged meaningfully and accurately. Semantic interoperability enables systems to combine received information with other information resources and to process it in a meaningful manner. Metadata interoperability is an example of this kind of interoperability.
  • Organizational Interoperability is the ability of organizations to effectively communicate and transfer (meaningful) data (information) even though they may be using a variety of different information systems over widely different infrastructures, possibly across different geographic regions and cultures. This aspect of interoperability is concerned with defining business goals, modelling business processes and bringing about the collaboration of administrations that wish to exchange information and may have different internal structures and processes. Moreover, organisational interoperability aims at addressing the requirements of the user community by making services available, easily identifiable, accessible and user-oriented.

Item: "The smallest discrete unit of record material which accumulates to form a series (i.e. a file or part file in a series of files; a volume in a series of volumes, etc.). Sometimes the term is also used as equivalent to Document (2). Also referred to as record item." (KA, p.473) Source: Continuum ANZ

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K - - - - -

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

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

Knowledge Management: The creation of value from an organisation's intellectual and knowledge based assets. Source: Continuum ANZ

L - - - - -

LDAP: 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 ANZ

Lifecycle: "An approach to viewing records management through a lifecycle model. It divides the records into five major phases of existence: creation, distribution, use, maintenance and disposal. As part of the disposal it may enter into the archives or be destroyed." (JISC:PRO, Appendix 3: Glossary, p.16) Current records management theory and methodology in Australasia favours the concept of the records continuum over that of the lifecycle model. Source: Continuum ANZ

Life-cycle Management: Records management practices have established life-cycle management for many years, for both paper and electronic records. The major implications for life-cycle management of digital resources, whatever their form or function, is the need actively to manage the resource at each stage of its life-cycle and to recognise the inter-dependencies between each stage and commence preservation activities as early as practicable.This represents a major difference with most traditional preservation, where management is largely passive until detailed conservation work is required, typically, many years after creation and rarely, if ever, involving the creator. There is an active and inter-linked life-cycle to digital resources which has prompted many to promote the term "continuum" to distinguish it from the more traditional and linear flow of the life-cycle for traditional analogue materials.We have used the term life-cycle to apply to this pro-active concept of preservation management for digital materials.The rationale for this approach is summed up in the following quotations:"...the prospects for and the costs involved in preserving digital resources over the longer term rest heavily upon decisions taken about those resources at different stages of their life cycle. Decisions taken in the design and creation of a digital resource, and those taken when a digital resource is accessioned into a collection, are particularly influential."(Beagrie and Greenstein 1998)"At each phase of the cycle, electronic records need to be actively managed, according to established procedures, to ensure that they retain qualities of integrity, authenticity and reliability."(PRO 1999) DPC

Local Community: The original Designated Community, in the context of Federated Archives, served by an archive. OAIS

Long Term: A period of time long enough for there to be concern about the impacts of changing technologies, including support for new media and data formats, and of a changing Designated Community, on the information being held in an OAIS. This period extends into the indefinite future. OAIS

Long Term Preservation: The act of maintaining information, Independently Understandable by a Designated Community, and with evidence supporting its Authenticity, over the Long Term. OAIS

Long-term preservation - Continued access to digital materials, or at least to the information contained in them, indefinitely. DPC

M - - - - -

Maintain: "[To retain] records in identifiable recordkeeping systems over time in accordance with appraisal decisions. Records that are required to be maintained should be accessible, their integrity should be protected and, where necessary, they should meet the conditions or requirements identified in order to meet business needs, organisational accountability and community expectations. This may include migrating records across successive systems and other preservation strategies." (DIRKS, Glossary, p.9) Source: Continuum ANZ

Management: The role played by those who set overall OAIS policy as one component in a broader policy domain, for example as part of a larger organization. OAIS

Medium-term preservation - Continued access to digital materials beyond changes in technology for a defined period of time but not indefinitely. DPC

Member Description: An Associated Description that describes a member of a collection. OAIS


  • Data about other data. OAIS
  • Information which describes significant aspects of a resource. Most discussion to date has tended to emphasise metadata for the purposes of resource discovery.The emphasis in this handbook is on what metadata are required successfully to manage and preserve digital materials over time and which will assist in ensuring essential contextual, historical, and technical information are preserved along with the digital object. DPC
  • Structured information that describes and/or allows users to find, manage, control, understand or preserve information over time. Source: ICA req OR "Data describing context, content and structure of records and their management through time." (ISO 15489-2001) Source: Continuum ANZ

Metadata Encoding and Transmission Standard (METS): METS is a standard for encoding descriptive, administrative, and structural metadata about objects within a digital library, expressed using XML. Source: NDHA ANZ


  • A means of overcoming technological obsolescence by transferring digital resources from one hardware/software generation to the next.The purpose of migration is to preserve the intellectual content of digital objects and to retain the ability for clients to retrieve, display, and otherwise use them in the face of constantly changing technology. Migration differs from the refreshing of storage media in that it is not always possible to make an exact digital copy or replicate original features and appearance and still maintain the compatibility of the resource with the new generation of technology. DPC
  • 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. OR 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 ANZ

N - - - - -

Non-Reversible Transformation: A Transformation which cannot be guaranteed to be a Reversible Transformation. OAIS

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

O - - - - -

OAI-PMH: 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 ANZ

Open Access Record: A public record or a local authority archive that has been classified as open access and to which public access has not been prohibited. For public records to be open access records they must also have been in existence for at least 25 years or have been transferred to the control of the Chief Archivist. (PRA, s4) Source: Continuum ANZ

Open Archival Information System (OAIS): An archive, consisting of an organization, which may be part of a larger 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 section 4, 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. OAIS ANZ

Open Access Record: A public record or a local authority archive that has been classified as open access and to which public access has not been prohibited. For public records to be open access records they must also have been in existence for at least 25 years or have been transferred to the control of the Chief Archivist. (PRA, s4) Source: Continuum ANZ

Open Systems: "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 ANZ

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

Order Agreement: An agreement between the archive and the Consumer in which the physical details of the delivery, such as media type and format of Data, are specified. OAIS

Ordering Aid: An application that assists the Consumer in discovering the cost of, and in ordering, AIPs of interest. OAIS

Organization: company, corporation, firm, enterprise, authority or institution, or part or combination thereof, whether incorporated or not, public or private, that has its own functions and administration and is able to ensure that digital preservation is exercised OAIS

Original Order: "The order in which records and archives were kept when in active use, i.e. the order of accumulation as they were created, maintained and used. The principle of original order requires that the original order be preserved or reconstructed [where possible]." (KA, p.475) Source: Continuum ANZ

Overview Description: A specialization of the Collection Description that describes the collection as a whole. OAIS

P - - - - -

Package Description: The information intended for use by Access Aids. OAIS

Packaging Information: The information that is used to bind and identify the components of an Information Package. For example, it may be the ISO 9660 volume and directory information used on a CD-ROM to provide the content of several files containing Content Information and Preservation Description Information. OAIS

Permissions: Library context: Access conditions specified by the creator or donor of the object. 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. 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. ANZ

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

Physical Control: "The control established over the physical aspects (such as format, quantity and location) of the archives and records in custody." (KA, p.476) Source: Continuum ANZ

Physical Object: 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. OAIS ANZ

Practice: Actions conducted to execute procedures. Practices are measured by logs or other evidence that record actions completed. OAIS

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

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

Preservation Description Information (PDI): The information which is necessary for adequate preservation of the Content Information and which can be categorized as Provenance, Reference, Fixity, Context and Access Rights Information. OAIS

Preservation Implementation Plan: A written statement authorized by the management of the repository that describes the services to be offered by the repository for preserving objects accessioned into the repository in accordance with the Preservation Policy. OAIS

Preservation Planning (Functional Entity): The OAIS functional entity which provides the services and functions for monitoring the environment of the OAIS and which provides recommendations and preservation plans to ensure that the information stored in the OAIS remains accessible to, and understandable by, the Designated Community over the Long Term, even if the original computing environment becomes obsolete. OAIS

Preservation Policy: Written statement authorized by the repository management that describes the approach to be taken by the repository for the preservation of objects accessioned into the repository. The Preservation Policy is consistent with the Preservation Strategic Plan. OAIS

Preservation Strategic Plan: A written statement authorized by the management of the repository that states the goals and objectives for achieving that part of the mission of the repository concerned with preservation. Preservation Strategic Plans may include long-term and short-term plans. OAIS

Procedure: A written statement that specifies actions required to complete a service or to achieve a specific state or condition. Procedures specify how various aspects of the relevant Preservation Implementation Plans are to be fulfilled. OAIS

Producer: The role played by those persons, or client systems, who provide the information to be preserved. This can include other OAISs or internal OAIS persons or systems. OAIS ANZ

Provenance: 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. OR "The agency, office, or person of origin of records, i.e. the entity which created, received, or accumulated, and used the records in the conduct of business or personal life. Also referred to as records creator. The chain of custody which reflects the office(s) or person(s) that created, received or accumulated and used the records in the conduct of business or in the course of personal life. Identifying and documenting the provenance of records is an essential part of establishing their authenticity and integrity as evidence. In archival theory, the principle of provenance requires that the archives of an agency or person not be mixed or combined with the archives of another, i.e. the archives are retained and documented in their functional and/or organisational context." (KA, p.476) Source: Continuum ANZ

Provenance Information: The information that documents the history of the Content Information. This information tells the origin or source of the Content Information, any changes that may have taken place since it was originated, and who has had custody of it since it was originated. The archive is responsible for creating and preserving Provenance Information from the point of Ingest; however, earlier Provenance Information should be provided by the Producer. Provenance Information adds to the evidence to support Authenticity. OAIS

Provider (or Submitter): A person or system that submits a digital object to the repository. The Provider can be the Producer. OAIS

Publication: The issue of copies of a work to the public; including making it available to the public by means of an electronic retrieval system. (Copyright Act 1994, s10) Source: Continuum ANZ

Q - - - - -

R - - - - -

RDF (Resource Description Framework): 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 ANZ

Record(s): The International Standard on Records Management defines a record as: information created, received and maintained as evidence and information by an organisation or person in pursuance of legal obligations or in the transaction of business. (ISO 15489) The Public Records Act defines a record as: "information, whether in its original form or otherwise, including (without limitation) a document, a signature, a seal, text, images, sound, speech, or data compiled, recorded, or stored, as the case may be:" in written form on any material; or on film, negative, tape, or other medium so as to be capable of being reproduced; or by means of any recording device or process, computer, or other electronic device or process." (PRA, s4) Source: Continuum ANZ

Recordkeeping: "The creation and maintenance of complete accurate and reliable evidence of business transactions in the form of recorded information." (AS 4390:1996, Part 1, 4.19) Recordkeeping includes the following: the creation of records in the course of business activity and the means to ensure the creation of adequate records; the design, establishment and operation of recordkeeping systems, including the definition of metadata; and the management of records used in business (traditionally regarded as the domain of records management) and as archives (traditionally regarded as the domain of archives administration). Source: Continuum ANZ

Records Management: "Activities within the management of the continuum (1) of records of an organisation which facilitate the systematic capture, control, maintenance, dissemination and disposition of the records of that organisation. Records management is primarily concerned with capturing complete, accurate, and reliable documentation of organisational activity for current purposes." (KA, p.477) Source: Continuum ANZ

Reference Information: The information that is used as an identifier for the Content Information. It also includes identifiers that allow outside systems to refer unambiguously to a particular Content Information. An example of Reference Information is an ISBN. OAIS

Reference Model: A framework for understanding significant relationships among the entities of some environment, and for the development of consistent standards or specifications supporting that environment. A reference model is based on a small number of unifying concepts and may be used as a basis for education and explaining standards to a non-specialist. OAIS

Refreshment: A Digital Migration where the effect is to replace a media instance with a copy that is sufficiently exact that all Archival Storage hardware and software continues to run as before. OAIS

Reformatting 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). DPC ANZ

Refreshing Copying information content from one storage media to the same storage media. DPC ANZ

Registration: The "act of giving a record a unique identifier on its entry into a system". (ISO 15489-2001, Part 1, 3.18) Source: Continuum ANZ

Render: 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. ANZ

Repackaging: A Digital Migration in which there is an alteration in the Packaging Information of the AIP. OAIS

Replication: A Digital Migration where there is no change to the Packaging Information, the Content Information, and the PDI. The bits used to represent these Information Objects are preserved in the transfer to the same or new media instance. OAIS

Repository: "The building or room, or part thereof, set aside for the storage of archives and/or intermediate records. Archival repositories are often constructed to meet specific environmental standards designed to ensure the longevity of the records." (KA, p.478) Source: Continuum ANZ

Representation: 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 ANZ

Representation Information: The information that maps a Data Object into more meaningful concepts.

  • An example of Representation Information for a bit sequence which is a FITS file might consist of the FITS standard which defines the format plus a dictionary which defines the meaning in the file of keywords which are not part of the standard. OAIS
  • An example is the ASCII definition that describes how a sequence of bits (i.e., a Data Object) is mapped into a symbol. ANZ

Representation Network: The set of Representation Information that fully describes the meaning of a Data Object. Representation Information in digital forms needs additional Representation Information so its digital forms can be understood over the Long Term. OAIS

Representation Rendering Software: A type of software that displays Representation Information of an Information Object in forms understandable to humans. OAIS

Repository Mission Statement: A written statement authorized by the management of the repository that, among other things, describes the commitment of the organization for the stewardship of digital objects in its custody. OAIS

Restriction: Any condition imposed on access to records or archives. Source: Continuum ANZ

Retrieval Aid: An application that allows authorized users to retrieve the Content Information and PDI described by the Package Description. OAIS

Retention Period: "The period of time, usually based on an estimate of the frequency of current and future use, and taking into account statutory and regulatory provisions, that records need to be retained before their final disposal. Sometimes used to indicate the length of time records are to be retained in offices before being transferred to intermediate storage." (KA, p.479). The retention period usually commences from the time of the disposal trigger. Source: Continuum ANZ

Reversible Transformation: A Transformation in which the new representation defines a set (or a subset) of resulting entities that are equivalent to the resulting entities defined by the original representation. This means that there is a one-to-one mapping back to the original representation and its set of base entities. OAIS

S - - - - -

Search Session: A session initiated by the Consumer with the archive during which the Consumer will use the archive Finding Aids to identify and investigate potential holdings of interest. OAIS

Semantic Information: The Representation Information that further describes the meaning beyond that provided by the Structure Information. OAIS

Semantic Web: 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 ANZ

Series: "Those records or archives having the same provenance which belong together because: they are part of a discernable filing system (alphabetical, numerical, chronological, or a combination of these); they have been kept together because they result from the same activity; or they are of similar formats and relate to a particular function. A series may consist of only one item. Also referred to as a record series." (KA, p.479) Source: Continuum ANZ

Short-term preservation - Access to digital materials either for a defined period of time while use is predicted but which does not extend beyond the foreseeable future and/or until it becomes inaccessible because of changes in technology. DPC

Structure Information: The Representation 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. OAIS ANZ

Submission Agreement: The agreement reached between an OAIS and the Producer that specifies a data model, and any other arrangements needed, for the Data Submission Session. This data model identifies format/contents and the logical constructs used by the Producer and how they are represented on each media delivery or in a telecommunication session. OAIS

Submission Information Package (SIP): An Information Package that is delivered by the Producer to the OAIS for use in the construction or update of one or more AIPs and/or the associated Descriptive Information. OAIS ANZ

Succession Plan: The plan of how and when the management, ownership and/or control of the OAIS holdings will be transferred to a subsequent OAIS in order to ensure the continued effective preservation of those holdings. OAIS

T - - - - -

Transfer: Used generally, refers to the transfer of records from one recordkeeping system to another. Used with reference to the Public Records Act, refers to the transfer of control of records to [the Chief Archivist,] or to a public office or local authority that has taken over the recordkeeping responsibilities of a disestablished public office or local authority. Source: Continuum ANZ


  • A Digital Migration in which there is an alteration to the Content Information or PDI of an Archival Information Package. For example, changing ASCII codes to UNICODE in a text document being preserved is a Transformation. OAIS
  • A migration of content from one format to another format. Source: Working Group ANZ

Transformational Information Property: An Information Property whose preservation is regarded as being necessary but not sufficient to verify that any Non-Reversible Transformation has adequately preserved information content. This could be important as contributing to evidence about Authenticity. Such Information Properties will need to be associated with specific Representation Information, including Semantic Information, to denote how they are encoded and what they mean. (The term ‘significant property’, which has various definitions in the literature, is sometimes used in a way that is consistent with its being a Transformational Information Property). OAIS

Trustworthy Digital Repository (TDR): a repository which has a current certification. OAIS

U - - - - -

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

Unit Description: A type of Package Description that is specialized to provide information about an Archival Information Unit for use by Access Aids. OAIS

V - - - - -

Version: An attribute of an AIP whose information content has undergone a transformation on a source AIP and is a candidate to replace the source AIP. OAIS

W - - - - -

X - - - - -

XML: 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. ANZ

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

XML Schema: 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 ANZ

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

XSLT: 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 ANZ

Y - - - - -

Z - - - - -


OAIS = OAIS glossary (also in


APARSEN = a term that has been introduced by one of the APARSEN project team members


See also



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