National Archives of the Netherlands (Ministry of Education, Culture and Science)

e-Depot

The term ‘e-depot’ is used to describe is the combination of equipment, programming, and procedures necessary for an archival institution to manage and make available its digital information.

By digitising the business processes within central government, the extent and scope of the digital archive has been increased. Furthermore, it is expected that government bodies will soon wish to begin the transfer of closed dossiers to the State Archives Service.This is because specific expertise and systems functionality is required to address the challenges of digital preservation. The State Archives Service currently has around 2TB of digital archives in its stores. However, different government departments have already offered an additional 17TB

The dynamic pace of digital developments demands a forwards looking approach to the management and use of digital collections. There are three issues of particular importance:

  • Firstly, that digital information must be properly preserved and managed. The fast pace of technological developments makes that sometimes difficult. Good preservation and management of digital archival records in a digital repository means, for example, that the computer files may need to be converted to better, more sustainable formats as and when necessary.
  • Secondly, accessibility: digital public records must be available via the internet. This public service is surely an important task for the State Archives Service.
  • Finally, significant improvements in efficiency can be achieved and the problem reduced by transferring digital records from the departments to the State Archives Service.

The reference model for an Open Archival information System (the OAIS-model) is generally considered as the standard for defining frameworks and procedures required for preserving digital objects. It is also the foundation of the State Archives Service’s Digitaal Depot project. An important component of OAIS is the module for long term digital preservation – the Preservation System. The State Archives Service’s Research and Development activities have provided important input to this. The longevity of digital archival records that are stored in the digital depot will be monitored with the help of a so-called ‘technology watch’ to plan and carry out appropriate preservation actions.