Session 1.8 - Experimentation: emerging technologies and archives


Kuldar Aas - Karin Bredenberg, Jenny Kidd - Josephine Marsh, Mette van Essen

Date Added:

24 October 2019

Chair: James Lowry, Co-Director Liverpool University Centre for Archive Studies

Thursday, 24 October 2019

a. From E-ARK to eArchiving – collaboration for interoperability in digital archives by Kuldar Aas - Karin Bredenberg

A digital archive is complex – it’s not enough to “preserve”, but it must also be integrated with hundreds of source systems and multiple access environments. The archive must also be sustainably manageable into the indefinite future, across multiple generations of digital archiving platform. In one word, it’s crucial for an archive to be “interoperable”. A core set of widely accepted specifications for transferring, storing and reusing data and metadata is crucial for keeping the costs related to system integration and long-term continuity reasonable.

In Europe practical steps towards archival interoperability started with the E-ARK project (2014 – 2017) which brought together 17 partners from 11 countries, creating practical specifications for OAIS Information Packages (SIP, AIP, DIP) and for some of the core content types (relational databases, ERMS content and geodata). The E-ARK project finished with excellent results, but it was visible that work needs to continue in multiple directions. The first immediate activity was to set up the Digital Information LifeCycle Interoperability Standards Board (DILCIS Board, The DILCIS Board is explicitly tasked with the maintenance of E-ARK specifications. While doing so the Board is notably open – anyone interested in the work is welcome to aid, all issues and discussions leading to the improvement of the specifications are available on GitHub, fully open to everyone.

In parallel the European Commission established, based on the outcomes of E-ARK, the eArchiving Building Block ( The eArchiving Building Block was officially kicked off in December 2018 and concentrates on:

- ensuring the maintenance of E-ARK specifications

- widening the expert archivist community around the specifications

- introducing the specifications outside the archival community

- helping everybody to understand and implement the specifications.

In 2018 the Building Block has already made significant progress. In terms of expert collaboration, it has extended its community to include most National Archives in Europe and is looking to extend into other regions. It has also reached out to other areas (e.g. eHealth and Taxation) for implementation discussions. Internally the Building Block has published a first significant update to the initial E-ARK specifications, developed software components to aid in the validation of E-ARK Information Packages, set up a Support Desk and a training programme for interested stakeholders.

It is our intention to continue improving the core specification and support service offering and doing so in an inclusive, open and transparent way. Everyone is welcome to join!


Kuldar Aas

Kuldar Aas is the deputy director of the Digital Archives of the National Archives of Estonia. He is actively involved in developing national records management and cultural heritage metadata standards; creating requirements and guidelines for the ingest, description and preservation of national datasets and electronic records from EDRM systems. He has played a leading role in implementing the digital preservation and access environment at NAE. He is a member of the Estonian semantic interoperability taskforce; has participated in a number of European collaborative projects (PROTAGE, APEx, YEAH, APIS), was the initiator and technical coordinator of the E-ARK project (2014 – 2017), is now the technical lead of the E-ARK4ALL project and a member of the DILCIS Board.

Karin Bredenberg

Karin Bredenberg is a Senior Technical Advisor on metadata at the Swedish National Archives. She graduated in Computer Engineering (programming C#), with a Bachelor of Science at the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) in Stockholm 2006. Bredenberg works with Swedish adaptations of international metadata standards and is responsible for the common specifications regarding e-archiving and e-records management maintained by the Swedish National Archives. She currently serves as the chair of the PREMIS Editorial Committee, co-chair of the Society of American Archivists Technical Subcommittee on Encoded Archival Standards (TS EAS), chair of the Digital Information LifeCycle Interoperability Board (DILCIS Board) as well as a member of the METS Board. Currently she is working as an activity lead for specifications within the eArchiving Building Block.


b. Archives Disrupted – QSA’s Transformative Journey by Jenny Kidd - Josephine Marsh  

How does an archive make itself relevant in the age of Netflix? This was the question we set ourselves back in 2016 and one that transformed how we strategically approached our collection and recordkeeping responsibilities. Like many other GLAM institutions Queensland State Archives (QSA) struggled to define itself beyond the misperception that we were simply a warehouse for the State’s corporate memory. We wanted to be more to the community than a place for researchers; we wanted to foster a place of curiosity and learning, creating meaningful interactions both onsite and online. It was time for us change our way of thinking. Not only about our collection but about ourselves. 

Three years later, this is what we learned.

1. That change starts with strategy, but it’s really all about the people

2. That human centred design has game changing implications for recordkeeping

3. That disruption is not a negative word

4. That we are natural storytellers, with a rich microcosm of tales to share

5. That we needed to focus outward on our visitors, rather than inwards to the collection.

We’re no longer satisfied with being “just” an archive. We aspire to be so much more to our community, both local and global. From being a destination of choice to an innovator in policy, we want to make a difference and challenge the very nature of what an archive should be.

Our presentation will take you along the first phase of QSA’s transformative journey. One that redefined our thinking from Blockbuster to Netflix.


Jenny Kidd

Starting off in television in the cashed-up 80s, Jenny Kidd began her 15-year publicity career by babysitting 'Home & Away' ingenues and making sure Fatso, the wombat from 'A Country Practice' got his fair share of column inches. Moving on to the arts sector Jenny was a publicist for The Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Society, working on Paul McCartney’s first (and only) foray into classical music before coming back to Australia to work with a variety of cultural organisations including Opera Queensland and Queensland Ballet. For the past 15 years Jenny has worked at Queensland State Archives, moving from the role of Manager Marketing and Communications to Manager Client Services and is currently Acting Director for Access and Engagement with an emphasis on programming and audience development. She remains passionate about strategic communications and is Treasurer for the Queensland branch of the International Association of Business Communicators.

Josephine Marsh

Josephine Marsh is Director Government Records and Discovery at Queensland State Archives having joined in 2004. She came to Australia in 1999 lured by the backpacker lifestyle and has never left, staying for the big open spaces and bright blue skies. Josephine trained as an archivist and studied at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth where she read Latin and handled parchment deeds dating from the 12th century – useful skills to have in Australia! After graduating, Josephine worked in the Archives of Barclays Bank in Manchester where she realised she preferred to create records and make them available rather than save them. Josephine worked in the real world of records management at Gold Coast City Council before joining QSA. These days, for Josephine, it is all about engaging with government agencies to improve recordkeeping across the public sector as well as finding that perfect glass of Aussie shiraz!


c. Using technology to gain insight by Mette van Essen

When we think about innovation,  we think about using new technologies,  such as Artificial Intelligence, Machine learning  or Block Chain. Projects with such an innovative component are mostly run as technical projects driven by IT departments or IT companies. In practice organizations are testing tools and software in isolated environments.  The main purpose of these projects is to organize processes more efficiently and/or cheaper. But innovation is not about technology and not about reducing costs. It's an investment. An investment in knowledge and an investment in change. 

At the National Archives of the Netherlands we started  experimenting in our own organization to learn more about these new technologies. But there is a difference. Our main goal: using the technology to gain insight in the challenges we face and develop new ways of working. Acquire knowledge and find out what we have to change in our processes, in our infrastructure, in our policies and most important within our organization. The first successful experiment we ran was the experiment  Machine Learning and Automated Classification of e-mail. Our main question: Can we use machine learning for the appraisal of unstructured information by answering a simple yes or no question. By building a prototype we learned  about the technology, the different classification algorithms and their possibilities. This was just the start. We installed the prototype within the infrastructure of the National Archives. By testing the prototype with real data, in a real environment and involving our own employees we found answers to questions we couldn't think of beforehand.

Building on these lessons we are now starting a new experiment. How can technology help us with privacy assessment and sensitivity review when it comes to our born-digital collection. What challenges do we face for privacy protection (GDPR) when it comes to unstructured data and secondary use of this data. Again the most important aspect of this experiment is to gain insight. Which (technological) steps can we take  now and in the near future. Where do we need to change our processes and what adjustments can or must be made in our policies. We want to learn by doing.


Mette van Essen (1978) studied Photography and Fine Arts at the Royal Academy of Arts at The Hague. In 2005 she started as coordinator of the Audiovisual Department at the Municipal Archive in Rotterdam. In the five years working there she specialized in Digital Preservation and helped develop the Digital Repository. From 2011 until now she is working as a Preservation Researcher at the National Archives of the Netherlands. Her focus is on new technologies, what they mean and how we can use them in the field of archive and information management.