Digitale Architectuur Traject Archiefbank Vlaanderen (DATA)
Archiefbank Vlaanderen is on a mission to improve its platforms’ user-friendliness and accessibility. We were already working with this portal for private archives in a professional consultancy capacity, and now we’re supporting them in the implementation of a number of planned actions as part of the DATA project, including rolling out a state-of-the-art infrastructure with APIs for presenting, exchanging and reusing data. This will help Archiefbank enter the era of linked open data, which has a major role to play.
Digital development is making everything and everyone faster. Digital technologies have become commonplace in the heritage sector, and organisations are trying to meet their target audiences’ high expectations. This evolution has a major impact on the way Archiefbank Vlaanderen operates as a portal for private archives.
In order to tackle these digital challenges, in the spring of 2020 Archiefbank Vlaanderen submitted a project application to the Flemish Community based on the research results from meemoo’s consultancy project. Archiefbank’s pioneering role as a service provider within the cultural heritage sector demands investments in its IT infrastructure, and the application was honoured with a project grant in the autumn. It is aiming to prepare itself for the future with the project: DATA – Digitale Architectuur Traject Archiefbank Vlaanderen. Improving user-friendliness and interconnectivity in the age of linked open data.
The collaboration between meemoo and Archiefbank Vlaanderen started in 2019 as a professional service. We looked at their digital strategy and IT infrastructure in a consultancy project before recommending a series of actions. This is now being followed with a cultural heritage project that was approved in the second round of grants for 2020 and started on 1 September 2020.
In the first phase of the DATA project, at meemoo we are:
participating in the steering group – following up aspects relating to the data model, exchangeability and the free use of Archiefbank’s data;
actively participating in the data modelling working group – looking at the data model specification, testing its implementation in the database and mapping data to exchange formats;
providing substantive support for the development of an open data policy, and more specifically for documenting rights to metadata in Archiefbank Vlaanderen with a view to a new licensing model and in preparation for an open data page;
providing support for the specification and implementation of the OAI and RESTful APIs, and the specification and testing of the APIs for development by an external technical partner.
Our colleague Ellen is also taking over some of the project tasks temporarily, predominantly for the analysis and documenting of metadata copyright protection and usage restrictions. Ellen will also be editing a web page with usage guidelines and metadata documentation from archiefbank.be for the new online environment.
The project is running in three phases:
Upgrading and expanding the data model and basic infrastructure (September 2020 - August 2021)
Customised user-friendly web environment and service provision (September 2021 - August 2022)
Increasing connectivity (September 2022 - August 2023).
This first phase comprises:
A. Upgrading the database software
This upgrade will enable Archiefbank Vlaanderen to easily implement further steps and ensure improvement in terms of security. Specific APIs are being developed to simplify the exchange of data. These are tools that enable systems to easily communicate with each other, so the Archiefbank Vlaanderen database and external archive management systems can be linked together to automate and accelerate data harvesting. No more labour-intensive procedures! At the same time, these same APIs can systematically open up data for other partners, researchers and developers, also at an international level.
B. Analysing the data model
The data model is examined in terms of linked (open) data and RiC (Records in Context). This includes looking at the possibility of publishing the metadata with a CC0 rights statement.
ADVN (Archive for National Movements)
AMSAB-ISG (Institute of Social History)
CAVA (Centre for Academic and Liberal Archives)
VAi (Flanders Architecture Institute)
Letterenhuis (‘House of Literature’)
Liberas (Liberal Archive)
KADOC (Documentation and Research Centre on Religion Culture and Society from KU Leuven)