Two Dutch DPC Preservation Awards: what is it all about?

Accompanied by traditional festival tunes of Scottish bagpipes the finalists of the 2016 Digital Preservation Awards and their colleagues “celebrated digital preservation”, as William Kilbride called this event last week in London. And in the audience the proud Dutch group of attendees celebrated even more as we won both the Award for Research and Innovation sponsored by the Software Sustainability Institute and the award for Safeguarding the digital legacy sponsored by The National Archives. The 17 international judges looked at 33 submissions, from 10 different countries.  What was the magical ingredient that helped the Netherlands submitting 3 projects, two of them worthwhile to receive the trophees?

With the help of Rijksmuseum digitization

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Developments in Preservation Policies

Often it is unclear whether results from European projects have any follow-up after the project is finished. If so, how can one monitor this? With regard to our work in SCAPE, including the Catalogue of Policy Elements and the list of Published Preservation Policies, however I am under the impression that these tools are still supporting organisations in creating preservation policies. People sometimes tell me this directly and sometimes I see references in articles and presentations.


One initiatives I’m involved in myself is a Dutch working group under the flag of the Network Digital Heritage, that will use the SCAPE Catalogue to create Dutch Guidelines for creating preservation policies, with a focus on smaller organisations in various domains. Not only libraries and data centres – which were involved in the creation of the SCAPE version – but also archives, museums and organisations collecting digital art and architectural materials. These Guidelines should support these organisations and also help them to not only write the preservation policies, but to also implement them in their organisations (often it is the other way around: policies are not written down but actions are based on implicit “policies” ).

The Institute for Sound and Vision is partner in this working group.. Annemieke de Jong, whom I mentioned earlier in a blogpost about their work to become a TDR , created Preservation Policies for their institute. I’ve read all the preservation policies collected here, but this policy is exemplary and should be high on the list of Best Preservation Policies. This is the first preservation policy that looks good, reads well and covers all main topics mentioned in the SCAPE catalogue. The design of this policy shows that this document is not seen as an obligatory task, but as way of communicating with the Producers and Consumers of the content of the digital archive. From what I’ve seen of policies so far is that they are seldom attractively designed. In this case, the text itself is understandable and clear, without too much jargon, but instead explaining the concepts and approaches in a clear language. And as said it covers all topics we identified as Guidance Policies in the SCAPE Preservation Policy model and added much information to it that is part of the Procedure Policies, the middle level in which you translate the high level policies into practical approaches. Based on this policy you will get a good overview of what the Institute is collecting and how this is preserved. With additional internal guidelines, referred to in the text, it should be clear to the employers of the Institute what is expected from them and as I mentioned earlier at iPRES 2014, this is one of the goals of a good policy. A new item on your reading list!

Preparations for getting the certificate


In my last blog post I talked about the NCDD work package on Certification, a Dutch initiative in which 5 major memory institutions will get certified according to either DSA, or DIN (and in the future ISO 16363).  One of the organizations participating is the Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision.  The NISV is the production archive for the Dutch public broadcasters  (without a legal deposit law in The Netherlands this material is not collected in the National Library but  we have shared responsibilities for collecting our national heritage).

The NISV officially started the DSA certification procedure last June, but preparing the organization is an activity that already started a while ago. Read for example their white paper OAIS compliant Preservation Workflows in an AV Archive from 2013, in which they show how they plan to organize their workflows according to the OAIS model.

My colleague Annemieke de Jong , Preservation Officer at NISV, had an interesting interview in AV Insider about the efforts her team made to involve and to prepare the organization before they stepped into the process to get the Data Seal of Approval certification. The article describes for example their approach to guarantee authenticity and integrity and to make audit trails possible.  Valuable recommendations (from a practitioner!)  at the end of the article makes it a must read for everyone thinking about  getting certified.


Dutch digital developments

Some interesting developments are taking place in the Netherlands with regard to (preservation of) the digital heritage. Initiated by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science the Network Digital Heritage (NDE) was set up. The participants in this network are national organizations with large digital collections, like the National Library (Koninklijke Bibliotheek) , the Institute of Sound and Vision, the Cultural Heritage Agency, the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the National Archives, together with other partners like for example the knowledge center DEN.


This Network organized the Week of Cultural Heritage ( 9-12 March 2015) and presented the National Strategy for digital Heritage as well as a short animation . Sadly this is all in Dutch, hence this update.

The national strategy plans to streamline and intensify initiatives with regard to the digital heritage in the Netherlands . The strategy is focused on collaboration between all “cultural heritage organizations’ in the Netherlands. This phrase is perhaps a bit too limited, as for example the scientific community does not feel represented under the term “cultural heritage”, but they are included as well (via the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences).

This national collaboration should take place in two ways: vertically, within certain domains (archives and museums for example) where the big organisations in the domain could offer services and assist their colleagues from smaller organisations. And horizontally, by tearing down the traditional barriers between the domains and to look for shared initiatives to make a variety of collected material more visible to the public.


Three working groups are initiated to realize this in 2015-2016. Their goals are summarized in the slogan “Zichtbaar, Bruikbaar, Houdbaar”, translated as:

  1. Making digital heritage visible (Zichtbaar) This working group will identify what “the public” expects from digital heritage and how they want to use it, how to promote the visibility of the range of digital collections and how to support organisations to make their collections visible.
  2. Making digital heritage usable (Bruikbaar) This working group will deal with connections in all sorts: to aggregate and contextualize collections, to improve findability by making better use of existing thesauri and to work together with researchers to improve search facilities
  3. Preserve digital heritage for the long term (Houdbaar). For a preservationist this is the interesting part, although highly connected with the other working groups! In this working group the infrastructure in the Netherlands for digital preservation need to be developed. Thereby making use of already existing experience and facilities.

One could wonder, how is this related to the already existing National Coalition for Digital Preservation, the NCDD? Well, the NCDD plays a big role in knowledge dissemination about all aspects of digital preservation. This work will be continued, but the NCDD will also be leading working group 3.

These are interesting developments and it looks like many initiatives and plans are finally coming together and will hopefully lead to (a start of) an integrated approach for access to and preservation of our digital heritage. A memorisable moment for me was last February. For the first time it happened in the Netherlands that over 80 Dutch preservationists (and some Belgian colleagues) came together and discussed the national plans, sharing approaches, plans and doubts. Let’s see what we can achieve together!