Trusted Repository
The term "trusted repository" has emerged in the digital library arena to describe a repository that depositors and users trust to provide authentic and useful information for many generations of researchers and students.

A repository must meet four critical tests, in order to live up to the trust placed in it by the faculty who deposit their work, as well as researchers who use the collections:

  1. Safeguarding of intellectual property

    The rights owner must be identified and permanently associated with the resource. The rights owner must have the right to set and modify terms of use for resources. In addition, the repository must have a robust authentication and authorization service to insure that only authorized users, such as repository administrators, are able to modify or delete information resources.

  2. Fidelity to the source information

    A digital resource may be created from an analog original, such as a digital print created from a photographic negative. The digital surrogate must be created to an archival resolution standard to insure the maximum fidelity to the source information.

    A digital resource may be "born digital," such as a database created in Microsoft Access. Unfortunately, the required application may change in future versions, so that the database over time can no longer be accessed and read. One or more "application-independent" or canonical representations must be created to insure that the born digital file is still accessible as technologies change. In the case of data sets, the Rutgers University Libraries are developing canonical XML representations that can be read, searched, interpreted and used without requiring the database application. In addition, CSV (comma separated values) and plain text representations will also be created to support the seamless migration of the data from one database management system to another.

  3. Authenticity of Information

    Digital information can be readily manipulated and modified. A trusted repository will assign a digital signature to the object, which triggers a report to the repository administrator and the content owner whenever a modification occurs. The repository will also monitor, backup, and refresh files to insure the long-term availability and authenticity of the information in its care.

    Often, modifications to digital information are useful and important, an example being the correction of a significant error in an e-journal article or the editing of raw data into a useful dataset that can be manipulated by an application such as MATLAB. A trusted repository will maintain the canonical or "digitally true" representation of the information in perpetuity, as well as an audit trail that documents any changes to the data. The display copy provided to users may be the latest version, with all authorized changes, but the scholar will have the opportunity to view entire lifecycle or "digital audit trail" of the resource-- the original resource and all iterations and modifications to the resource. Since scholars often build forward on the work of others, particularly through citations, it is critical to maintain the integrity of the referential chain, even while providing the most accurate and complete version for active use.

  4. Preserving User Privacy

    Trusted repositories have an obligation to support user privacy and confidentiality of information use. While a repository may collect website use statistics, this information will only be analyzed and published as an aggregate statistic. A trusted repository will not expose the identity, resources used, or activities (read, copy, etc.) of its users.
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