Life images

LIFE: Glossary and reference

The following terms are intended to help with understanding the LIFE project and website. They are not intended to be an exhaustive resource on digital preservation. Any queries can be emailed to


Bit-stream Preservation
Bit-stream Preservation is the process of storing and maintaining digital objects over time, ensuring that there is no loss or corruption of the bits making up those objects.
CEDARS is an acronym for CURL Exemplars in Digital Archives. CEDARS was a JISC funded project exploring themes of digital preservation. LIFE builds on some of the work carried out by CEDARS.
The Centre for e-Research:
The Consortium of University Research Libraries.
Whether a digital object is what it says it is. The authenticity of printed objects is easily assured, that of digital objects is far less so.
The Digital Curation Centre:
Digital archiving
In the LIFE project digital archiving has been taken to mean the same as digital preservation.
Digital object
Any electronic item (e.g. an e-journal, e-book, digital image etc)
Digital preservation
The process of ensuring that a digital object is accessible over the long term.
The process of creating a digital object from an analogue object.
The Digital Preservation Coalition:
Information which accompanies a digital object to give background, context and history.
The process of re-creating an obsolete operating system or piece of software on an up to date operating system or piece of software, therefore allowing the digital objects associated with the obsolete system to be accessed. Emulation is one of the main areas of research into digital preservation.
The process by which a digital object or metadata package is absorbed by a different system than the one that produced it.
The Joint Information Systems Committee:
Ligue des Bibliothèques Européenees de Recherche. Association of European Research Libraries:
Life Cycle (conceptual)
The life cycle approach is a philosophy which aims to observe all the stages of a process or object, to understand that process or object better. Life cycle costing enables quantification of all the expenditures associated with the stewardship of an object.
Life Cycle Collection Management
Life cycle collection management is a way of taking a long term approach to the stewardship of collections. It defines the different stages in a collection item's existence over time. Life cycle collection management seeks to identify the costs of each stage to define the economic interdependencies between the stages.
Long term
The length of time when issues over the preservation of the digital information become important, whether this is 10 years, 100 years or in perpetuity.
"Data about data that makes other data useful" (this definition is taken from Changing Trains at Wigan by Prof. Seamus Ross, published as an occasional paper of the National Preservation Office in 2000). Metadata can be split into descriptive, administrative and structural types.
Migration can mean two things in the context of the LIFE project. It can mean migration from one media to another as the storage medium in question becomes obsolete. It can also mean migration from one file format to another for the purposes of preservation. File format migration is one of the main technques for digital preservation.
The Open Archives Initiative. To quote from the OAI website" The Open Archives Initiative develops and promotes interoperability standards that aim to facilitate the efficient dissemination of content".
The open archival information system reference model. OAIS is a best practice reference model for long term preservation and is an ISO standard. The full text of the standard is available for free. OAI and OAIS are often confused, a useful introduction to both standards is available in the editorial paper by Peter Hirtle from the April 2001 edition of D-LIB magazine.
The process of migration from one storage medium to another. The same as media migration outlined above.
A system to store and allow access to digital objects.
Technology Preservation
The third major strategy for digital preservation. Technology preservation involves preserving all the hardware necessary to access an obsolete digital object or system.
UK Web Archiving Consortium.
Voluntary deposit of electronic materials.
  • Link: UCL Library Services
  • Link: British Library
  • Link: Humanities Advanced Technology and Information Institute
  • Link: JISC
  • Link: RIN
  • Link: LIBER

for enquiries contact
LIFE (Life Cycle Information for E-Literature) is a funded by the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) and Research Information Network (RIN) and is a collaboration between University College London (UCL) and the British Library