Getting started: what to plan for as you implement ARKs

To start using ARKs you need:

  1. A Name Assigning Authority Number (NAAN) to indicate your organization.
  2. A minter: a means of generating unique strings for resource names, tracking which strings have already been assigned to resources, and managing metadata for those resources.
  3. A resolver: a means of redirecting a persistent ARK identifier to the current access URL where a resource resides.
  4. A plan: you should consider whether you need to use certain ARK features such as suffix pass-through or ARK shoulders, either now or in the future.
  5. An access persistence policy: the resources you want to provide persistent access to should be securely preserved (e.g., with an external copy in a stable repository) in order to avoid accidental loss, deletion, or bitrot.

Get a Name Assigning Authority Number (NAAN)

Please fill out the NAAN request form if you are interested in generating and using ARKs for your resources. While a NAAN is often associated with a single organization, if you work in a large or complex organization (e.g., a university campus), different units within it may have different needs in assigning ARKs, such as frequency, total number, and varieties of objects to identify. Independent units might need their own NAANs or “shoulders” (see ARK namespaces).

Decide what ARK features you need

As you prepare to use ARKs for the first time, consider both the current and future potential use cases for ARKs in your organization. This may influence, for example,

  • whether you choose to implement a shoulder for the first set of resources you assign ARKs to;
  • what metadata standard you will use;
  • whether you want to reveal part/whole relationships by using component qualifiers;
  • which services you want to provide to your resources by using variant qualifiers.

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Also consider implementing some of the features that related ARK systems use, such as suffix passthrough, which can be useful if your resources contain many sub-resources with a large number of files per resource. Also consider some of the features that related ARK systems use, such as the suffix passthrough feature (currently implemented only for ARKs stored in This can be useful if your resources contain many sub-resources with a large number of files per resource.

Choose (or build) an ARK system

Because ARKs are free, open identifiers, there are many choices for implementing them. Some free, specialized services offer ARK assignments, such as for text deposits at the Internet Archive and for metadata vocabulary terms at At the moment, we don’t know of any general-purpose ARK service providers available to the public. ARK assignments are offered as a side-effect of working with many institutional repositories and vendors (e.g., in archiving and education).

There are also software plug-ins and microservices you can integrate with your own repository or system. The Resources area of this site provides links to available tools and to technical documentation if you choose to build your own local ARK support system. One example is the Noid system for minting, managing, and resolving identifiers.

Issues to consider:

  • Is there a service provider that I’m eligible to use? (Note that while ARKs are free, service providers will like charge a fee for the service)
  • If selecting a repository system, does that system support ARKs?
  • Does my organization have a commitment to providing developer support and access to servers for running a Noid system?
  • Is there a Noid system available in the programming language(s) we work with?

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