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Reviewed by:
  • Module 8: Becoming a Trusted Digital Repository by Steve Marks
  • Lisa Snider
Module 8: Becoming a Trusted Digital Repository. Steve Marks. Chicago: Society of American Archivists, 2015. xxv, 68 pp. ISBN 1-931666-84-9.

Steve Marks has accomplished something that very few people in the world have: he created a Trusted Digital Repository (TDR) that met the criteria of the Trustworthy Repositories Audit & Certification (TRAC). It was the first repository in Canada, and one of only six in the world. Because of the significance of this task, this publication is important to consider: the author went beyond theorizing how a TDR could be created and actually achieved it.

Marks undertook this task when he was the digital preservation librarian at the Toronto-based Scholars Portal, a service of the Ontario Council of University Libraries (OCUL): the Scholars Portal e-journals database TDR passed the very stringent Centre for Research Libraries (CRL) audit and obtained the rare certification in February 2013.1 To pass the audit and be granted certification, a TDR must demonstrate compliance with the TRAC criteria and the strict “gold standard” of ISO 16363, Audit and Certification of Trustworthy Digital Repositories. Marks defines this ISO as “an internationally recognized set of criteria that can be used to measure the credibility of repositories’ specific preservation programs and services” (p. 2).

The book is published by the Society of American Archivists (SAA) and is part of its Trends in Archives Practice series. I applaud SAA for creating this series: the books are well priced, short (around 100 pages), and available in print, EPUB, and PDF formats. Marks contributed this publication to the series in 2015 in order to share with the archival community his knowledge of TDRs and his experience with audits.

The book starts with a note written by editor Michael Shallcross, who provides a short, helpful explanation of why ISO 16363 is important for archives. The introduction by Bruce Ambacher focuses on the history of trustworthiness and the development of the ISO standard. While well written and interesting, Ambacher’s chapter might be too detailed for some readers, [End Page 153] who may find that it distracts from Marks’s more practical section. The introduction could have been pared down to the last two, more practice-based discussions – “Test Audits” and “Dissemination and Adoption” – which will appeal to the majority of readers looking to gain insight into the more practical nature of this topic.

The main part of the book, written by Marks, focuses on the three most important sections of ISO 16363 for archivists:

  • Section 3: Organizational Infrastructure evaluates organizational structures and management, and includes mission, staffing, financial sustainability, rights, etc.

  • Section 4: Digital Object Management evaluates how digital materials are handled, and includes acquisition, preservation, information management, access management, etc.

  • Section 5: Infrastructure and Security Risk Management evaluates risk, and it includes technical infrastructure management, security risk management, etc.

The logical layout of the book makes it easy to read and use as a reference when needed. Each of the three sections has a list of criteria or metrics, and “each metric consists of a requirement statement, supporting text, examples, and discussion” (p. 9). Marks provides a succinct description in plain language for each metric, particularly in sections 3 and 5. Section 4 falters in comparison with the plain-language strength of the other sections, because one has to be familiar with the Open Archival Information System (OAIS) model to fully understand all the concepts and nuances. Overall, Marks manages to make these very technical explanations as “readable” as possible for those who might be new to the subject.

Marks also provides recommendations when ISO 16363 falls short in its explanation. For example, metric 3.1.2 focuses on a preservation strategic plan, but the ISO does not provide a great deal of guidance on what might be included in such a plan (p. 11). By sharing with the reader what he included in his Scholars Portal plan, Marks fills in some gaps in the ISO standard.

Marks also identifies informative resources in many of the metrics. For example, metric 3.4.1 focuses on business planning processes (p. 21). Marks provides useful...


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pp. 153-156
Launched on MUSE
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