Semantizing and visualising archival metadata: the PIAAF French prototype online

Florence Clavaud (Archives nationales de France | EGAD) | 4 May 2018


The Archives nationales de France, the Service interministériel des Archives de France and the Bibliothèque nationale de France joined forces in 2015 for developing a prototype aiming to convert to RDF some sets of archival metadata, and to display them as graphs.

This project, named “Pilote d’interopérabilité pour les autorités archivistiques françaises" (PIAAF), aimed to serve as a proof of concept about applying semantic web technologies to archival description. The issue was to prove that these technologies can be used for representing accurately, for interlinking and for visualising in a new way the archival metadata sets (finding aids, authority records and vocabularies) that archival institutions create and maintain today in their current information systems.

The project team chose, as the reference model for converting to RDF the selected archival metadata sets, Records In Contexts – Conceptual Model (RiC-CM) and its OWL version, Records In Contexts – Ontology (RiC-O), which are being developed by the ICA Expert Group on Archival Description (EGAD). The prototype is thus a first use case for this ontology.

The prototype was published online in March 2018: see :

Some introductory pages are provided on the issues and history of the project, on the methodology followed and on the content of the website.

You can also download a tutorial that helps to browse and explore the site.

The results of the project open interesting pathes for the partners and, more broadly, for any archival institution willing to use linked data technologies.

The libraries developed during this project will be released before the end of 2018.

A screenshot from PIAAF prototype

A screenshot of PIAAF prototype, showing as a graph the data on some record sets held by the Archives nationales de France, and on the persons and corporate bodies which created and accumulated them (displayed from page.)