Hetarchief.be: starting point for archival research, now and in the future

2 Mar 2022

Our content partners have a wealth of archive content – content that we take great care to preserve in our archive system. We also make some of it accessible to the general public at hetarchief.be (link in Dutch). And two years since this site was launched, you can now search through almost 1.5 million audiovisual items from 100 archives. Time for an update.

In November 2019, we launched hetarchief.be – a platform where we can bring our content partners into contact with other interested parties. Interested parties could be anyone who’s looking for archive content: from documentary makers, heritage experts and researchers to your aunt who once appeared on Blokken (a Belgian TV quiz show). With hetarchief.be, we’re providing visitors with access to descriptions of almost 1.5 million items archived by our content partners. To watch or listen to a clip, you can simply use the request form to make a direct request to the provider.

Two years of hetarchief.be

In 2020, our content partners received over 780 requests via hetarchief.be. Last year this number increased to almost 1200. Impressive figures, largely thanks to our ongoing efforts to provide more visibility for hetarchief.be. Our aim is to direct more audiences to our content partners’ collections.

10,000 people now visit the online database every month on average, mainly looking for clips of legendary programmes - Man Bijt Hond and Huis Op Stelten get a lot of hits, but current affairs are also very popular, for example searching with keywords such as ‘Olympic Games’ or ‘forest fires’.

Want to see some specific examples? Historian Reinier Wels tracked down a number of lost clips of the BBC series Sherlock Holmes via hetarchief.be. And student Gitte Derluyn found some source materials on the database that proved very useful for her master’s thesis on Gravensteen Castle in Ghent.

Perhaps you’ve had a noteworthy experience with hetarchief.be yourself? If so, please let us know via jouwverhaal@hetarchief.be!

What does the future hold?

Behind the scenes, we’re working hard to update hetarchief.be – making the website even more user-friendly and the search function even more powerful. We’re also broadening our view in the longer term: in the future, as well as audiovisual content, you’ll also be able to search through other source materials, such as photos and newspapers. Content in the public domain also won’t need to be requested, and can simply be looked up on the spot.

But we’ve got a lot of work to do first before that happens. Fortunately, we can count on input from our content partners and experts from the sector for this. And we’ve already put our heads together to research the different target audiences interested in hetarchief.be. Read the report here.

We’re already taking a first step towards a more versatile hetarchief.be this year, with a number of content partners soon getting to work with the new visitor tool. This will allow visitors to their sites to also see their digital archive content – which is stored at meemoo. We’ll have another update on this story for you soon.

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