This standard provides guidance for preparing archival authority records which provide descriptions of entities corporate bodies, persons and families associated with the creation and maintenance of archives. Description of records creators is an essential activity of archivists, regardless of whether the descriptions are maintained in manual or automated systems. This requires full documentation and continuous maintenance of the context of records creation and use, most importantly the provenance of archives and records. The companion standard to this document, ISAD G : General International Standard Archival Description, provides for the inclusion of contextual information within the description of archives at any level. ISAD G also recognises the possibility of capturing and maintaining contextual information independently and linking that contextual information to the combination of other information elements used to describe archives and records.
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The purpose of the standard was to provide guidelines for recording authority data for entities associated with archival materials, with the standard defining 27 elements in four areas of an authority record Identity, Description, Relationships, and Control. As well as including general content guidelines, the standard also includes information on linking authority records to descriptions of archival materials and other authority records ICA, They have facilitated system developments, data sharing, and cooperative integrated access.
However, because the four standards were created serially rather than together, the intended complementary interrelation of each with the others is implicit rather than explicit.
Many archivists have had difficulty understanding how to use the four standards together to form complete archival description. Further, the emergence of semantic web technologies, in particular conceptual models or ontologies and Linked Open Data LOD , offer many benefits to the archival community to improve archival descriptive practice and to make it more effective to better serve and expand the user community: methods for clarifying and making explicit the concepts and assumptions underlying archival descriptive practice; methods for formally representing archival descriptive data that enables computational use and reuse of the data to provide access to and understanding of archival resources; and methods for sharing archival descriptive data in integrated cultural heritage access systems.
The challenges presented by the existing standards and the demonstrated promise of the new technologies led ICA to review its strategies related to the current descriptive standards. Various local and national efforts have seized the initiative in the development of archival conceptual models, and while these initiatives clearly demonstrate a growing awareness of and interest in the benefits offered by the new technologies, to ensure that the next generation of archival descriptive standards reflects international consensus and furthers the consensus building, collaboration, sharing of knowledge and technologies, it is time to learn from and bring these initiatives together" ICA, , para.
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International Standard Archival Authority Record