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Trusted by whom? TDRs, standards culture and the nature of trust


The first part of this paper examines the notion of trust within the suite of standards that anchor the trustworthy digital repository (TDR) concept. The second part traces the short and confusing trajectory of the TDR project at Library and Archives Canada (LAC) and explores the extent to which the failure of LAC TDR should be understood in relation to organizational funding, operational decisions, TDR standards culture or other factors. In the conclusion I suggest that the notion of trust within TDR standards culture is itself evolving in a positive direction that emphasizes user perceptions of trust rather than seeking to establish objective evidence of trust.

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  1. 1.

    AMICAN was intended to unify LAC’s online descriptive systems for bibliographic holdings (AMICIUS) and archives (MIKAN).

  2. 2.

    The figures provided by the Auditor General and the Heritage Minister represent only special funds awarded by Treasury Board, and not operational funds from LAC. These figures would not include, for example, wages for LAC staff assigned to the project.


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Working on LAC TDR was a transformative experience for me as a digital archivist. I would like to thank my managers and co-workers at LAC for helping me to learn so much about digital preservation and about archives. In 2014 earlier versions of this paper were presented at the Association for Manitoba Archives stream within the Manitoba Libraries Conference and at the Archives Society of Alberta. The feedback that I received at these conferences helped me to develop my arguments. I would also like to thank the Archival Science editors and reviewers who helped me to clarify and improve my paper. Errors and interpretations remain my own.

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Correspondence to Greg Bak.

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Bak, G. Trusted by whom? TDRs, standards culture and the nature of trust. Arch Sci 16, 373–402 (2016).

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  • Trust
  • Trustworthy digital repository
  • Trusted digital repository
  • Library and archives Canada
  • Standards
  • Standards culture