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

Organisational and technical processes for the transfer of digital archival records

It goes without saying that the transfer of digital archives must take place digitally. The State Archives Service has constructued a Digital Depot for the sustainable storage of digiital archives: a digital infrastructure in which the original custodians (the departments and all other parts of central government that must transfer their archives to the State Archives Service in the future) can participate. The eArchive in Development vision document envisages a national eDepot service that will be in place and available for common use across the archives sector. The service will comprise one component of a broader ‘shared services’ initiative within the government.

The infrastructure and schema of the Digital Depot is as follows:

  • Incoming digital archives are exported from the records management system of the original custodians;
  • The export produces a ‘transfer file’ that contains metadata about the archive;
  • The transfer file is sent via a data connection to the Digital Depot and is subsequently ingested to the quarantine area allocated to that specific original custodian;
  • The transfer file is incorporated into the ingest process.

Digital archives that are submitted to the Digital Depot must thus first be stored in a quarantine area, where the files are automatically checked for viruses. Integrity and metadata compliance checks also take place. Automated characterisation then takes place in conjunction with automatic detection of file formats.

The following activities take place, during and after the transfer process:

  • After the dossiers are closed and their appreciation complete, a transfer file must be opened in the records management system of the original custodians;
  • This file is subsequently transmitted to the Digital Depot using the secure government network (the Haagse Ring);
  • After storage in the quarantine area of the Digital Depot and successful transit through the ingest process, the files can be accepted and managed.

The Digital Depot will launch in 2010. Those who wish to transfer files into the Depot must contact the relevant account manager in the State Archives Service.