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Secondary adoption of technology standards: The case of PREMIS


While archival scholars have identified some of the most important steps for deciding to use and implement metadata standards in archives, very little systematic empirical investigation within the archival science literature regards either how implementation processes actually unfold or the factors affecting implementation. This article analyzes the organizational factors and processes that come into play during implementation of metadata standards, using PREservation metadata: implementation strategies (PREMIS) as an exemplar. Adapting a theoretical framework for secondary adoption of technologies from Gallivan (Database Adv Inf Syst 32(3):51, 2001), the authors apply their model to the PREMIS technology standard and investigate PREMIS implementation by projects/programs on the Library of Congress PREMIS Implementation Registry. Using data from a series of in-depth semi-structured interviews, the authors develop a model for the secondary adoption of PREMIS and outline implications for the secondary adoption of technology standards based on the results of this study.

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Fig. 1


  1. 1.

    Zmud (2000) defines assimilation as “the process within organizations stretching from initial awareness of the innovation to potentially formal adoption and full-scale deployment” (p 1).

  2. 2.

    Here P4O3 is referring to PREMIS events. PREMIS events correspond to the PREMIS event entity which “aggregates information about actions that affect objects in the repository. An accurate and trustworthy record of events is critical for maintaining the digital provenance of an object, which in turn is important in demonstrating the authenticity of the object. The information that can be recorded about events includes: a unique identifier for the event (type and value); the type of event (creation, ingestion, migration, etc.); the date and time the event occurred; a detailed description of the event; a coded outcome of the event; a more detailed description of the outcome, etc.” (Caplan 2009, p 10).

  3. 3.

    See footnote 2.

  4. 4.

    PREMIS agents are “actors that have roles in events and in rights statements…. Agents can be people, organizations, or software applications” (Caplan 2009 p 11).

  5. 5.

    The large firms included in Gallivan’s study had millions of dollars to support training for information technology applications, whereas none of the organizations included in this study had that magnitude of resources to devote to training.

  6. 6.

    For more information about previous and upcoming PREMIS tutorials and implementation fairs go to the PREMIS maintenance activity website at http://www.loc.gov/standards/premis/.


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Author information

Correspondence to Devan Ray Donaldson.

Appendix: interview protocol

Appendix: interview protocol

Section 1

  1. (1)

    What is your institution’s mission with respect to preservation of digital objects?

  2. (2)

    What information does your institution think is important to know about each of the digital objects you are responsible for preserving?

  3. (3)

    What did you use before using PREMIS? How does PREMIS compare to what you were using before?

  4. (4)

    What metadata standards or schemes do you use at your institution?

Section 2

  1. (5)

    What do you use PREMIS for?

  2. (6)

    Who made the decision to adopt PREMIS at your institution?

  3. (7)

    For how long have you been implementing PREMIS at your institution?

  4. (8)

    How does PREMIS interact with the other metadata standards you are using (i.e., such as METS)?

  5. (9)

    How many staff members are responsible for implementing PREMIS at your institution?

  6. (10)

    How would you describe the PREMIS implementation process at your institution (i.e., what steps are involved in the implementation of PREMIS at your institution)?

  7. (11)

    How easy or difficult has it been to use PREMIS to represent information that your institution thinks is necessary for preserving digital objects?

  8. (12)

    Are your institution’s policies for preservation of digital objects reflected in your institution’s current implementation of PREMIS? (Please provide examples)

  9. (13)

    How does your manager support use of PREMIS at your institution?

  10. (14)

    What sorts of things did you do/are you doing to learn how to use PREMIS?

  11. (15)

    Does using PREMIS make your job easier/better?

  12. (16)

    Does using PREMIS advance your institution’s goals with respect to preservation of digital objects? How so?

  13. (17)

    Is PREMIS embedded in your institution’s preservation systems and protocols?

  14. (18)

    What sorts of activities do you do to make sure that PREMIS is “working” as you desired or hoped it would?

  15. (19)

    Is there anything that PREMIS does not do that you wish it could do?

  16. (20)

    How often do you utilize resources on the Library of Congress’ PREMIS Maintenance Activity website?

  17. (21)

    Are you a member of the PREMIS Implementers’ Group, a free listserv called the PIG list?

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Donaldson, D.R., Yakel, E. Secondary adoption of technology standards: The case of PREMIS. Arch Sci 13, 55–83 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10502-012-9179-0

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  • Digital curation
  • Digital preservation
  • Implementation
  • Preservation metadata
  • Secondary adoption
  • Standards