Archipel: a network-centric approach to sustainable digital archives

The research project Archipel: Network-centric approach to sustainable digital archives was a collaboration with the aim of setting up a digital archive infrastructure in Flanders. Between October 2009 and September 2011, the various Archipel partners investigated what role a network-centric approach could play, and looked at the technical and organisational challenges involved in long-term digital archiving. PACKED (now meemoo) helped with Work Package 1.

Archipel built on the research results from BOM. Bewaring en Ontsluiting van Multimediale data in Vlaanderen (Storing and Accessing Multimedia Data in Flanders). BOM was a collaboration between the media and cultural sectors around the digitisation and unlocking

Challenge

Why ‘Archipel’, I hear you thinking? The name Archipel – which is Dutch for ‘archipelago’ – was chosen because it reflects the purpose of the research project. An archipelago is a chain, cluster or collection of islands spread out in the sea. An ‘archipelago’ like this – albeit a virtual one – can also be found in Flanders: smaller and larger archives and depositories are widespread in our region.

The Archipel project therefore aimed to set up a digital archive infrastructure by linking these archives and depositories together. Universities, heritage institutions, arts organisations and companies joined forces to investigate whether a network-centric approach could contribute to creating this digital archive infrastructure in Flanders.

Approach

The project implementation was organised in a series of work packages:

  • Work Package 1: Digitisation and archiving

  • Work Package 2: Sustainable access

  • Work Package 3: Legal challenges involved in the re-use of digital archives

  • Work Package 4: Shared demonstration platform

  • Work Package 5: Dissemination

  • Work Package 6: Project management

The Archipel project examined the technical and organisational challenges of long-term digital archiving. Innovative technological solutions were investigated and evaluated, with the ultimate goal of drawing up a model for an open data archive for long-term digital data storage and access. An operational (test) platform was then set up based on this model.

Various publications, reports and deliverables were created during the project, and you can find an overview of these documents in the FARO library.

Our role

When the Archipel project was first set up, meemoo did not exist yet, let alone VIAA. But it did lay the foundations for VIAA. Together with its predecessor, BOM- Vlaanderen (Storing and Accessing Multimedia Data in Flanders), Archipel put the digitisation and digital archiving of cultural heritage on the map. At the end of 2012, this led to the establishment of VIAA, who joined forces with LUKAS and PACKED to become meemoo in 2020. These three organisations, which have now joined forces to become meemoo, are among the pioneers of audiovisual heritage digitisation in Flanders.

PACKED collaborated on the Archipel project and carried out its tasks together with eDAVID on behalf of FARO. We were actively involved in Work Package 1. The two organisations developed a workflow for the digitisation and archiving of moving images and audio:

  • film: various photographic film formats;

  • video: various magnetic video tape and laserdisc formats;

  • audio: various formats on magnetic audio tape, vinyl...

Together with eDAVID, we also extended this to include the encoding of some common digital media carriers or formats. Examples of this are Betacam SP, MiniDV, DAT and MiniDisc. We delivered three different products as a result of the workflow:

  1. a manuscript for a handbook:

    • This manuscript serves as the basis for a practical handbook and associated online version, aimed at managers of collection management institutions;

    • A glossary of the most common terms and a literature list were then added.

  2. a training package on the integral approach to digitisation and archiving:

    • The training package has a modular structure;

    • PACKED and eDAVID organised and provided the course as part of Work Package 1.

  3. an open source planning software tool for managing the digitisation and archiving workflow:

    • The tool includes a template for monitoring all the steps with complete examples;

    • This was the end product of the workflow.

The two organisations always took the standards and good practices developed in the CEST project into account when carrying out their tasks and activities, and creating the deliverables.

Partners

PACKED (now meemoo) carried out its tasks in collaboration with eDAVID.

Alongside FARO, we also collaborated with the following project partners:

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