Digital archiving


Bert Lemmens en Ellen Van Keer

Report: SCALA focus day & digital archiving solutions for the cultural heritage sector

  • Record

The first phase of SCALA, the pilot project on sustainable storage for digital private law archives, is complete. To conclude the project and create a starting point for the next phase, the AIDA network (the nine institutions behind SCALA) organised a focus day on 26 April to share ideas about archiving and preserving born-digital archives and collections. Here is the report.

AIDA (link in Dutch) - short for Automatic Ingest Digital Archives – is a collaboration between nine heritage institutions in Flanders and Brussels, including meemoo. Together, our aim is to improve digital private law archiving and management. Enter: SCALA. As part of this SCALA project action plan, AIDA is trialling a pilot system for preserving born-digital files. You can read exactly how we’re tackling it, and about meemoo’s role, on this project page.

The first phase of SCALA is now complete. To conclude this part and offer a glimpse of the future, we held a focusday (link in Dutch) about SCALA, but also in a broader context, at the Letterenhuis (‘House of Literature’) – one of the AIDA partners – in Antwerp on 26 April. More and more organisations are saving born-digital heritage these days, such as social media and digital administration (emails, Word documents, spreadsheets, etc.) Preserving this content sets new and different challenges from digitised collections, but there is still a lack of suitable working processes and policies. We therefore looked at the broader archiving requirements for various organisations in the cultural heritage sector on this focus day.

What was on the programme?

We presented the initial results from the SCALA project in the morning. Check out this case study (link in Dutch) on the CEST knowledge platform to find out more. You can also find user guides and technical information about the project on Github.

In beeld: Jelle Kleevens, projectmedewerker van SCALA, licht het project toe en vertelt meer over de uitrol van preserveringssysteem RODA

The focus day provided a platform for a few specific cases looking for archiving solutions for born-digital collections.

  • Jeroen Buysse, digitisation manager for Liberas (Liberal Archive), came to talk about the implementation of their e-depot;

  • Caroline Vleugels, information manager for the Stad Leuven’s Information Management Department and Koen Schuddinck from DAV (Agency for Administrative Simplification) explained how Leuven uses DAV’s services – and the serial register and e-depot in particular;

  • Katrien Weyns from KADOC (Documentation and Research Centre on Religion, Culture and Society at KU Leuven) unfortunately had to miss the focus day, but you will be able to see her presentation on the ingest of born-digital content in their e-depot on CEST (link in Dutch) soon. The other presentations will also be added to this page.

We had time for debate in the afternoon when we busily shared ideas, experiences and requirements around three topical discussion tables. All participants took it in turns to join each table.

In beeld: gesprekstafel

  • Table 1: Digital collections: agreements and differences

    The participants at this table brainstormed different types of digital collections and their differences and similarities in terms of adding metadata, ingest and preservation. Meemoo colleague Bert Lemmens moderated the discussion.

  • Table 2: Pooling resources and scaling up: opportunities and limits

    Digital preservation requires considerable investments that aren’t always feasible for individual heritage institutions, so it makes sense to share resources in order to scale up solutions. But this doesn’t come without risks. At this table, participants brainstormed possibilities and limits of a large-scale, scaled-up approach. Isabel Van Ongeval (Letterenhuis) led the discussion along the right tracks.

  • Table 3: Organising, valuing and selecting born-digital archive content

    Digital collections often need to be made available in a particular way (a certain format, with obligatory metadata) for inclusion in a digital repository, and it’s the collection manager who’s responsible for preparing these files correctly. But how feasible is this? And what are the possibilities? This table discussed these issues, with Maarten Savels (Amsab Institute for Social History) as moderator.

SCALA is an initiative by the Flanders Architecture Institute (VAi). Meemoo is a partner in this project alongside ADVN (Archive for National Movements), Amsab (Institute for Social History), AMVB (Archive and Museum for the Flemish Living in Brussels), AVG-Carhif (Archive and Research Centre for Women’s History), CAVA (Centre for Academic and Liberal Archives), Letterenhuis (‘House of Literature’) and Archiefbank Vlaanderen.

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