Inventory of digital collections
We’ve been busy digitising and archiving analogue formats ever since VIAA was established. In 2016 we started broadening our perspective to also preserve digital materials, and this included sending a survey out to our then content partners.
This resulted in us looking at the digital folders of 68 respondents, which helped us prepare for the intake of their digital collections.
These 68 respondents represent the breadth of sectors we serve. Museums, (regional) broadcasters, cultural heritage bodies and (city) archives all explained their requirements to us. The performing arts organisations we work with now weren’t yet part our activities when the survey was sent out, but have since also been asked what they need for their digital collections.
Seventy-five percent of the original respondents were interested in the sustainable storage of their digital collections, and 10% said inclusion in the VIAA archive was very urgent. The size of their collections varies depending on the sector they operate in and the types of material used. In general you can say that partners typically have an audiovisual archive of 1 TB (average 1,000 files) and large photo collections of 10,000 files or more.
This volume of audiovisual collections – given the large number of digitisation projects – is manageable for our archive system. What’s particularly striking is the large amount of digital photographic materials, and this helped us decide to include them as acceptable formats for the digital intake. At least half of the organisations surveyed have more than 75% of items with basic descriptive metadata (a title and/or description). We therefore see the availability of this basic metadata as a necessary condition for possible inclusion in the digital collections.
The fact that a number of partners does not yet have any backups of their collection demonstrates our partners’ need. Digital collections are also stored in very diverse ways, from external hard disks to content management systems. The varied maturity in the storage of digital collections means we can certainly add value for a number of sectors and content partners.
To gain an even better overview of the size, nature and urgency of the services provided for digital collections, we also carried out research to make an inventory of them. The results from this research were useful for substantiating the phasing and prioritisation of our service provision. After a few pilot projects to fine-tune the processes, the intake of digital collections was scaled up in 2019.