Nof-digitise Technical Standards and Guidelines

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nof-digitise Technical Standards and Guidelines

Version Three: Revised July 2001

This document has been developed on behalf of the New Opportunities Fund (NOF) by UKOLN, University of Bath, in association with Resource: The Council for Museums, Archives & Libraries.


UKOLN would like to thank Bruce Royan, Sandy Buchanan and Mark Bide for their contributions.

This document draws on Scientific, Industrial and Cultural Heritage: a shared approach, a research framework for digital libraries, museums and archives written by Lorcan Dempsey for the European Commission’s Information Society Directorate General.

Scientific, Industrial and Cultural Heritage: a shared approach

The full text of the latest version of this document is available online from:

UKOLN is funded by Resource: The Council for Museums, Archives & Libraries, the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) of the Higher and Further Education Funding Councils, as well as by project funding from the JISC and the European Union. UKOLN also receives support from the University of Bath where it is based.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction 5

1.1. The Life Cycle Approach 6

1.2. Requirements and Guidelines 6

1.3. Vocabulary 7

1.4. Other Standards Developments (REVISED 07/01) 7

1.5. Updates to this Document 8

2. Creation 8

2.1. Requirements 8

2.1.1. File Formats (REVISED 07/01) 8

2.1.2. Character Encoding 10

2.1.3. Geographic Information Systems (INCLUDED 07/01) 10

2.1.4. VRML/3D Content (INCLUDED 07/01) 11

2.2. Guidance 12

2.2.1. Data Capture (REVISED 12/00) 12

2.2.2. Metadata (REVISED 07/01) 13

2.2.3. Preservation (REVISED 12/00) 14

3. Management 14

3.1. Requirements 15

3.1.1. Intellectual Property Rights 15

3.1.2. Identification 16

3.1.3. Performance Indicators (REVISED 12/00) 16

3.1.4. Security 16

3.1.5. E-Commerce 17

3.2. Guidance 18

3.2.1. Preservation (REVISED 12/00) 18

3.2.2. Metadata (REVISED 07/01) 18

4. Collection Development 20

4.1. Guidance 20

5. Access 20

5.1. Requirements 20

5.1.1. Access To Resources (REVISED 07/01) 20

5.1.2. Authenticity 21

5.2. Guidance 22

5.2.1. Metadata and Resource Discovery (REVISED 07/01) 22

5.2.2. Watermarking and Fingerprinting 23

5.2.3. User Authentication (REVISED 07/01) 23

6. Re-use 24

6.1. Guidance 24

6.1.1. Learning Resource Creation (REVISED 07/01) 24

  1. Introduction

The nof-digitise programme supports the creation of a significant body of digital resources. The promise is of a rich digital fabric of learning materials, cultural artefacts and civic resources that offer real support for lifelong learning in a new cultural network space.

This document recommends some agreed approaches to how this resource is created and made available. It incorporates many of the examples of best practise developed by the £15 million UK Electronic Libraries Programme (eLib). Without the implementation of agreed approaches throughout nof-digitise, the promise of networked information for learning and cultural enrichment will not be realised.

Important areas for consideration are:

  • Preservation. It is important to secure the long-term future of materials, so that the benefit of the investment is maximised, and the cultural record is maintained in its historical continuity and media diversity.

  • Interoperability. It is important to be able to share content seamlessly between projects and between projects and users, to be able easily to use content without specialist tools, to be able to discover and interact with content in consistent ways and to be able to manage it effectively.

  • Security. In a network age it is important that the identity of users, content and projects is established; that intellectual property rights and privacy are protected; that the integrity and authenticity of resources can be established.

  • Accessibility. It is important that materials are as accessible as possible and are made publicly available using open standards and non-proprietary formats. If this material is to be a true national resource it must be accessible to all citizens including those with disabilities.

Failure to address these areas will have serious consequences, as the different parties waste their resources:

  • Users - the citizen, the learner, the child. They will waste time and effort as they cannot readily find or use what is most appropriate to their needs, because it is not described, or is formatted in a particular way, or requires specialist tools to exploit, or was never captured in a usable form.

  • Information providers and managers. Their investment may be redundant and wasted as their resources fail to release their value in use, as their products reach a part only of the relevant audience, as they invest in non-standard or outmoded practices.

  • Funding agencies. They have to pay for redundant, fragmented effort, for multiple learning curves and reinvention of wheels, for less than optimal projects and techniques, for content that fails to reach users or markets.

  • Creators, authors. Their legacy to the future may be lost.

    1. The Life Cycle Approach

A life cycle approach has been used in the discussion of standards as decisions taken at any stage in a resource’s life may have ramifications for cost-effective use at other stages. The stages in this life cycle are:

  • Creation. The actual creation of an individual digital resource.

  • Management. The digital resource will need to be managed in some way if it is to be accessible and meaningful.

  • Collection Development. The digital resource will typically be placed in a collection with other digital resources. This collection will need to be managed. It should also be capable of growing.

  • Access. Materials need to be made available on the network in accessible, usable, secure, and responsible ways.

  • Repackaging. A digital resource should be able to be used in more than one way. For example, a digitised local history photograph, created initially as part of an online exhibition, may be repackaged as part of a learning resource.

The use of a life cycle approach means that a number of technical standards are revisited through out the document. Metadata, for example, is relevant to several of the stages of the life cycle and is discussed separately at each of these stages.

    1. Requirements and Guidelines

This document outlines technical requirements which projects must meet and also offers guidance on developing technical issues. Requirements are standards which are widely accepted and already in current use. All projects must implement any standards that are identified as requirements. This document also offers guidance. The standards covered in the guidance sections are still in development. It is probable that these standards will become widely accepted during the lifetime of the programme but they cannot be identified as a requirement with full confidence yet. Projects should maintain and demonstrate awareness of these standards and their potential applications.

    1. Vocabulary

The words ‘must, should and may’ when printed in bold text have precise meanings in the context of this document.

  • Must: This word indicates an absolute technical requirement with which all projects must comply.

  • Should: This word indicates that there may be valid reasons not to treat this point of guidance as an absolute requirement, but the full implications should be understood and the case carefully weighed before it is disregarded. ‘Should’ has been used in conjunction with technical standards that are likely to become widely implemented during the lifetime of the project but currently are still gaining widespread use.

  • May: This word indicates that the topic deserves attention, but projects are not bound by New Opportunities Fund advice. ‘May’ has therefore been used to refer to standards that are currently still being developed.

This vocabulary is based on terminology used in Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) documentation.

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