The Archival Resource Key (ARK) system is location and protocol independent and is a new approach to persistent identification. It was developed in 2001 by John Kunze for custodians of archived digital objects, and emphasises the principle of stewardship of resources and their naming schemes over time.

The ARK identifier is a naming scheme for persistent access to digital objects (including images, texts, data sets, and finding aids)  implemented by the California Digital Library (CDL).

The ARK identifier is a specially constructed, globally unique, actionable URL and the ARK scheme is underpinned by three requirements based on links:

  • From the object to a promise for stewardship
  • From the object to metadata which describes it
  • To the object itself (or appropriate substitute)