TRAIL Glossary

This glossary was created to explain terms and concepts used by TRAIL. It is intended as an explanatory guide for current and potential members.

Agency  A specific entity of the United States Government as defined by the United States Government Manual (

Central Processing Unit  The institution receiving collections for digitization from the Nodes. This Unit assembles collections and inventories the collections in the TRAIL Collection Processing Database. Catalog records for each technical report are created and the cataloging is supplied to OCLC. The appropriate Stream is determined and collections are shipped to be digitized.  

Content Contributors  The institution(s) providing technical reports to a Node. A Content Contributor’s responsibilities include creating an inventory of the reports, taking the necessary steps to have the reports removed from their collections, and shipping the reports to the appropriate Node.

Member Organization  Any organization interested in supporting the work of TRAIL that has submitted a signed member agreement and has paid the annual membership fee.

Member Representative  The person designated by the Member Organization to have voting authority in elections, bylaw revisions and other governance issues. This person is responsible for being the primary contact between TRAIL and the Member Organization.  The Member Representative may also elect to participate in TRAIL activities such as standing for elected offices and serving on the Steering Committee, working groups and/or task forces. This person must be employed by the Member Organization and not be a student.

Member Participants The employees of a Member Organization participating in TRAIL project activities. Member Participants, other than the Member Representative, do not have voting authority, but can participate in all other TRAIL activities.

Node  An institution responsible for soliciting and collecting from Content Contributors a copy of reports in a series to form a collection to be digitized. The Node adds information about the reports to the Central Processing Unit inventory, and ships them to the Central Processing Unit.

Personal Members  Personal Members are individuals who are interested in supporting TRAIL, but work at non-member institutions. Personal Members do not pay a yearly membership fee and are encouraged to participate in TRAIL’s Working Groups and activities. The TRAIL Bylaws were amended to include Personal Members in 2015.

Series  A defined publication with a unique SuDoc call number that is numbered or unnumbered. Note: Title changes without SuDoc changes do not constitute a new series. 

Streams  The destination of the technical reports to be digitized after processing at the Central Processing Unit. Presently there are two main streams; the Google Stream and the University of North Texas (UNT) Stream. The Google Stream is in collaboration with University of Michigan Digitization Project. Reports entering this stream must be in print and all components (maps, foldouts, etc.) of the report must be of a uniform size. Reports entering the UNT Stream may be print or microform. Print reports entering this path will be those where all components are not of uniform size. If a Content Contributor is loaning reports and therefore wants them returned, those reports will also enter the UNT Stream.

TRAIL Annual Meeting  The in-person meeting of the Steering Committee, that is usually held in spring and open to all Member Representatives and Member Participants of TRAIL. The meeting is a venue for acquainting everyone with TRAIL and also to discuss the direction of the project including strategic planning.

TRAIL Guides ( online listing of series inventories. These inventories are useful in determining what TRAIL has processed and what reports are needed.


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Search U.S. government technical reports issued primarily prior to 1976 and digitized by TRAIL.