Digital preservation of archives: experiences and transfer projects

For at least twenty years, digital preservation has been at the center of the initiatives of the Italian legislator, but it is also the subject of standardization interventions at international and European level. In the last decade, custody services have been developed in many countries that comply with regulatory provisions and consistent with the reference standards, in particular with the ISO 14721 (OAIS) standard.

Among the activities and requirements considered critical, a significant weight is recognized to the quality of the payments of archival documents in the storage deposit.

It is on this aspect that the digital talk focuses, with the aim of illustrating the most significant requirements and the most critical issues, comparing some concrete experiences: those carried out in Italy by the Emilia-Romagna Regional Archival Center (ParER), presented by Gabriele Bezzi, and in Europe by the Historical Archives of the European Union, which will be discussed by Samir MusaSilvia Trani is entrusted with the task of describing the project dedicated to payments to the digital deposit of the Central State Archives. Introduces and moderates Mariella Guercio.

Past live events

Presentation of the IHRA Guidelines for Identifying Relevant Documentation for Holocaust Research, Education and Remembrance

For decades, a significant amount of the documentation bearing on the Holocaust and its historical context has been scattered, endangered, and in many cases made inaccessible.
In Italy, for a long time, the office in the Ministry of Interiors opposed to free access to documents concerning individual position of Jews in the file of the Demorazza in the Archivio centrale dello Stato e of Prefettura e Questura in the local State Archives because of their “sensitive” content.

Only in 1996, during the First National Conference of Archives, in accordance with the Union of Jewish Communities, this obstacle was cancelled.

Open access means allowing researchers and the public the ability to find and use Holocaust related documentation for commemoration, education, and research. Open access does not precede privacy regulations but encourages archives to implement these prudently where Holocaust documentation is concerned.

The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s “Archival Access Project” sought to map the status of accessibility to Holocaust period
documentation and the challenges faced by researchers. The project also contributed to ensuring that a specific exception for documents bearing on totalitarian regimes, genocide and crimes against humanity, such as the Holocaust was included in the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in Recital 158.

However, there is a discussion about what kind of documents can be considered Holocaust- related (and, as a consequence, an example of what kind of documents can be considered related to totalitarian regimes, genocide, crimes against humanity and so on).

The IHRA working group “Monitoring Access to Holocaust Collections tried to overcome one of the obstacles: the lack of practical guidelines for identifying relevant documentation for Holocaust research, remembrance and education, thus allowing each archive and each state to adopt a different approach while determining access to their documentation.

These Guidelines will be presented by Elinor Kroitoru the researcher who supported the Project Working Group.
They will discussed together with dr. Sabrina Mingarelli (Direzione generale Archivi) and Laura Brazzo (CDEC, Milan) who will also talk about Italian and European Projects to allow open access to Holocaust documentation.
The discussion will be moderated by Micaela Procaccia (President of ANAI and member of the Working Group)

The building archives in the era of digital transition

The archives of contemporary architecture, engineering and design studios constitute an irreplaceable source of knowledge of a relevant sector of Italian technical-scientific creativity.
So far, great attention has been paid to the recovery of paper archives of great personalities and architects of the past, which in many cases have been digitized and have made it possible to get to know and study the most important professionals of the twentieth century.

However, still little attention has been paid to safeguarding the archival heritage produced in recent decades in contemporary architectural studios, where sketches, drawings, projects, photographs and three-dimensional models on traditional analog supports have gradually replaced the their digital equivalents:
project documents, photographs, animations, videos, renderings are produced in electronic format and have almost totally supplanted traditional documentary types.

The activities of production, management and conservation of digital documents oblige architects, but also protection bodies and civil society, attentive to the protection of memory, to face new and different challenges compared to the past: digital documents require adequate conservation strategies and performing, which start from the moment of their creation. The webinar intends to reflect on these issues while simultaneously presenting the activities of the working group on architecture archives set up within ANAI.

Speakers: Stefano Allegrezza (University of Bologna), Giorgetta Bonfiglio-Dosio (Ca’ Foscari – Venice University; ANAI), Chiara Quaranta (Professional), Lucia Bosso (Based Architecture), Riccardo Domenichini (IUAV), Anna Moreno (iBIMi). Moderator: Micaela Procaccia (ANAI President)

Linked Open Data for cultural heritage

Linked Open Data (LOD) are one of the most important resources for sharing and growing knowledge through the potentially infinite creation of new connections between resources. For this reason, LODs are the basis for the development of platforms for the management and description of cultural heritage of a heterogeneous nature, within environments capable of containing and governing variety.

However, the undeniable advantages of LODs pose new problems and new doubts: how is it possible to merge the specialist approaches of the various communities that make up the GLAM reality within a single shared framework?

What are the specific critical issues for the archival field? What is the impact of Linked Data on consolidated concepts and methods in our disciplines?

Speakers:

Chiara Veninata (Central Institute for Catalog and Documentation), Fabiana Guernaccini (Regesta.exe), Francesca Tomasi (University of Bologna), Federico Carbone (University of  Salerno), Silvia Mazzini (Almawave) and Daniele Del Pinto (Almawave). Moderated by Giovanni Michetti (Sapienza University of Rome).

How is blockchain technology transforming archives and records?

Distributed ledger technologies (DLT), including blockchains, combine the use of cryptography and distributed networks to achieve a novel form of records creation and keeping designed for tamper-resistance and immutability. Over the past several years, these capabilities have made blockchains increasingly popular as a general-purpose technology for use in recordkeeping in a variety of sectors and industry domains, and led to experimentation in its use by archives and other organizations for the safeguarding and preservation of records. Even more recently, some cultural heritage institutions have begun to produce Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTS), cryptographic digital assets that can be traded over blockchain networks, as new marketing tools, while some cultural institutions have incorporated these new crypto-assets into their collections. Yet many open challenges and issues, both theoretical and applied, remain in connection with these novel technologies.

The speakers in this panel will discuss examples of how blockchain technology is transforming archives and records, from the creation of new forms of cryptographic certification and health records, to safeguarding evidence of human rights violations and claims of displaced people to their homes, lands and property, to novel NFTs that may one day end up in archival institutions and have to be preserved. They will reflect on lessons learned from their involvement in blockchain projects and upon the implications of novel distributed ledger technologies for records management, archival appraisal and acquisition, arrangement and description, outreach and public programming, and society as a whole.

This theme will be discussed by Hrvoje Stancic (University of Zagreb, Croatia), Anne Gilliland (UCLA, United States), Jesse McKee (221A,Canada) and Victoria Lemieux (University of British Columbia, Canada).
The session will be moderated by Hrvoje Stancic.

Workshop – Which MAB professionals?

The accessibility and protection of cultural heritage, increased by the widespread use of technologies and AI, even in daily services, could inspire new approaches and require different training from professionals. The meeting is intended to be an opportunity to reflect on the changes underway in current professionalism and on the training characteristics of the professionals of tomorrow.

These figures will be transversal to the traditional disciplinary fields of culture and will be indispensable in the future for the conscious and sustainable management of the analogical, intangible, digitized and native digital cultural heritage.

The considerations on the results of the online survey of the MAB world (by AIB, ANAI, ICOM) and beyond will be followed by suggestions and proposals from experts on emerging professionals in the world of cultural heritage.

Speakers:

Ornella Foglieni, MAB Lombardia
Klaus Kempf, former Director of the Digital
Library, Bayerische Staatsbibliotheck, Munich.
Massimo Cruciotti, Mazzini Lab Benefit, Italo Carli, Arte Generali
Francesca Peyron, Project manager, Mazzini Lab Benefit
Annalisa Rossi, Archival and Bibliographic Superintendent for Lombardy
Luciana Duranti, University of British Columbia, Vancouver

How much is a file worth? The economic value of the archives

The economic value of archives is a topic of fundamental importance for understanding the role of archives not only as a patrimonial asset, but also as a strategic component for the production of cultural, social and managerial value that can ultimately be traced back to an economic value.

The Italian legislator has established that archives and libraries are fully part of the state patrimony and as such must be subject to economic evaluation.

The accounting activity has the merit of having forced the administrations to identify and quantify their documentary assets, but also highlighted the inadequacy of the accounting criteria established by law.

For this reason it is necessary to think about new models and new formulas that make it possible to more accurately identify the value of cultural heritage, thereby indirectly contributing to supporting activities aimed at guaranteeing the protection and conservation of documentary heritages.

Speakers: Sabrina Mingarelli (DGA, Head of Servizio II), Debora Chiarelli (Sapienza University of Rome), Fabio Giulio Grandis and Lucia Biondi (Roma Tre University), Alessandra Federici (ISTAT), Chiara Faggiolani (Sapienza University of Rome) will discuss this topic. Moderator: Giovanni Michetti (Sapienza University of Rome).

What does AI look like when archival concepts and principles inform its development?

In the past, archives have used Artificial Intelligence relying on off-the-shelf tools. This practice has both limited what challenges can be met and made the needs of archives subservient to the larger field of machine learning. It may be a practical thing to do, but many alarming instances of bias have been found in modern machine learning models as applied to archival material. This raises the questions of a) whether off the shelf tools are the best solution for the archival field, b) how archival concepts and principles might influence the development of AI tools intended for records and archives management, and c) how the two fields of AI and archival science can benefit from a partnership.

The speakers will discuss the archival design, development, and leveraging of AI to support the ongoing availability and accessibility of trustworthy records.

We will first explain the types of AI that are most likely to support archival endeavours, and then illustrate studies on the design of AI tools for the identification of ancient records, for the classification of current records, and for detection of privacy information, as well as presenting several other studies focused on using and developing AI to support archival appraisal, arrangement and description, preservation, and access.

This theme will be discussed by Luciana Duranti (University of British Columbia, Canada), Muhammad Abdul-Mageed (University of British Columbia, Canada), Luigi Compagnoni (State Archives in Milan, Italy), Emanuele Frontoni (University of Macerata, Italy), Umi Mokhtar (Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Malaysia), and Jim Suderman (Expert, Canada). The session will be moderated by Luciana Duranti.

Process certification: a quality model

In 2017, the legislator introduced process certification in the Digital Administration Code, with the aim of facilitating the transformation of an analog document into a digital document.

Annex 3 to the “Guidelines on the training, management and storage of IT documents”, published in 2020, summarizes this process, specifying some of its most important characteristics.

However, the need to “ensure the correspondence of the form and content of the original and the copy” requires extreme attention in order to prevent massive dematerialization operations from producing inadequate results.

To this end, the Directorate General for Archives has prepared a detailed model to achieve process certification according to quality and systematic criteria, with the aim of providing a tool to support the dematerialization procedures of public bodies.

Speakers Sabrina Mingarelli (Directorate General Archives, Service II), Giovanni Michetti (Sapienza University of Rome), Gabriele Capone (Archival and Bibliographic Superintendency of Campania), Antonino Mazzeo (University of Naples Federico II), Patrizia Gentili (Agency for Italy digital). Coordinated by Stefano Pigliapoco (University of Macerata).

Digital libraries: a training ground for the hybridization of disciplines and contents

Cultural heritage is a real system, in which objects live in relationships not only with other objects, but also with subjects, with places, with processes of production, use and conservation: in a word, with the context within which they are immersed. How adequate are the traditional disciplinary and professional divisions, which then translate into organizational-institutional divisions, to represent the complexity of the ecosystem of cultural heritage? 

Digital libraries highlight the systemic nature of cultural heritage and therefore seem an adequate tool for questioning traditional models and acting as catalysts of innovation processes with respect to current structures.

The directors of the central institutes will discuss this theme: Laura Moro (Central Institute for the Digitization of Cultural Heritage), Carlo Birrozzi (Central Institute for Catalog and Documentation), Elisabetta Reale (Central Institute for Archives), Simonetta Buttò (Central Institute for the Single Catalog). Giovanni Michetti will moderate.

Not just papers: the archive as an expression of the variety of cultural heritage

The archive is not just paper. There are many archives in which it is necessary to compare matters, materials and objects that are very different from traditional ones, such as to require a specialized approach and sometimes original solutions. It is therefore appropriate to reflect on the way in which traditional descriptive models are adequate to represent such realities, in which the archive document takes on such varied forms.

To discuss about this theme, Giorgetta Bonfiglio Dosio will present the complexity and variety of company archives; Danilo Craveia will focus in particular on the archives of the textile industry; Simona Turco will tackle the theme of photographic archives; Maria Francesca Stamuli will explore the documentary landscape linked to oral sources; and Manuel Rossi will tell us about the archives of the show business. Giovanni Michetti will moderate.

The training of archivists: contents, models, players, perspectives

The tasks of archivists have been progressively expanding over the last few decades. The paper documentation has been joined by the digital one, and the traditional documentary sources by the oral and audiovisual sources, just to name a few. From a professional figure mainly devoted to state documentation or, in any case, public documentation, we have moved on to careful protection of private documentation of all kinds as well, not only that of illustrious families and personalities, but that of professionals, artists, companies, trade unions.
Faced with this broadening of horizons, the regulations of the Archivistics, paleography and diplomatic schools of the State Archives remained the same as they were 110 years  ago, while other training courses (university courses, masters, courses promoted by the professional association) were offered to archivists placed in front of the new tasks.

At the same time, the schools of the State Archives were also updated and expanded the offer, albeit in an uncoordinated manner. Today, on the eve of a new regulation that comes after years of pressure in this sense, Sabrina Mingarelli, Andrea Giorgi, Stefano Pigliapoco, Giovanna Giubbini, Giovanni Michetti and Ilaria Pescini will discuss the training of archivists.
Anna Maria Buzzi, Director General for the Archives, will greet the audience at the beginning of the digital talk.

Risk prevention for cultural heritage

On the occasion of the International Day for the Reduction of the Risk of Natural Disasters, born in 1989 at the behest of the General Assembly of the United Nations, an in-depth seminar will be held on the prevention of risks in places that preserve cultural heritage (museums, archives, libraries , etc.).

The day will be divided into two parts: during the morning, several eminent experts in the sector will hold technical-training interventions and exhibit specific case studies in the cultural heritage area; in the afternoon, in the external space of the ISA, a practical exercise for saving archives will be carried out, simulating a flood, an emergency situation that those who work in the archives often have to face.

Waiting for ICA 2022: upcoming events

From 9 March to 7 June 2021, every 15 days, we talked about archives, in a structured approach path in the sign of cooperation and cohesion that characterize this sector.

During this last appointment before the summer break, we want to report on this initiative, which will start again in the autumn with a rich and intense program, continuing until June 2022, to prepare the archival community for the ICA International Conference, which will be held in Rome from 19 to 23 September 2022.

Understanding Disaster Risk for Digital Heritage

In 2012, hurricane Sandy caused multiple fatalities and more than 6 million homes and businesses experienced prolonged power outages, resulting in billions of dollars of losses in the form of digital assets.

Equally alarming is that 60% of small- and medium-sized businesses experienced a loss or theft of sensitive data in the last 12 months, and the cost of IT downtime was $700 billion in 2015. Disasters such as these result in significant losses of digital assets, which also includes digital heritage.

As part of ICCROM’s new ‘Sustaining Digital Heritage’ initiative, this webinar will promote a better understanding of disaster risk for digital heritage. Noted speakers from the fields of heritage risk reduction, archives, and digital asset management will share their experiences and expertise, and discuss how to prevent large-scale disruption and significant data loss.

Our aim is to build ground for a lively discussion by using interactive features such as live polls and a Q&A format.

Preserving sounds and voices: archives as a place for identity

Audiovisual heritage represents an inestimable treasure, which has been and is fundamental for the construction of individual and social identities, for the cultural formation of people, for the collective memory of peoples. Radio and television recordings, oral testimonies that speak of the past and question the present, that explain, intrigue, teach, amuse or entertain.

Sally Jennings will talk about the Save our Sound project, promoted by the British Library, and Enrico Giannotti will explain how artificial intelligence can bring added value in the processing of video audio content. Maria Francesca Stamuli will tell us what the Vi.vo.project consists of, while Silvia Calamai will introduce the Vademecum for the treatment of oral sources.

 

 

Corporate culture in archives: sustainability, digitalization and training role

What is the social impact of memory loss? And why is it essential to preserve and enhance business archives? Through the archives, training courses are built and the ability to build and create is preserved. For some time now, the archives have also faced two central issues regarding the future: digitalisation and sustainability. 

With Antonio Calabrò we will discuss sustainability and social impact of memory loss; Lucia Nardi will talk about business archive as a tool to strengthen and communicate corporate identity and Daniela Brignone will seak about the archive as a marketing and communication tool; Giorgetta Bonfiglio Dosio will discuss archival training today; finally, Amedeo Lepore will present the case of the digitized archive of the Cassa del Mezzogiorno.

Archive common good: the relationship with communities and proposals for enhancement of the value

The documentation preserved in the ecclesiastical, diocesan and parish archives in particular, is inextricably intertwined with the history of people and communities and places inhabited and built around them. Every action, whether linked to initiatives of knowledge, protection or valorization can only be the concerted expression of a people and its territory. Let’s try to tell some experiences

Mons. Franco Lovignana will talk about cultural and pastoral planning for cultural heritage. We will listen to two experiences: Matteo Savoldi will tell the project of the Veronese ecclesiastical archives online; don Gianluca Marchetti and Veronica Vitali will talk about the “choral” enhancement of the illuminated codes of the Chapter of the Cathedral of Bergamo.

Microclimatic conditions and air quality in archives

The monitoring and control of ambient air quality normally takes place outdoors, but even within the environments designated for the conservation of archival assets there may be sources of concern for pollution or, due to inefficient air circulation systems, pollutants can penetrate from the outside and accumulate.

We talk about it with the biologist Matteo Montanari, expert in the cultural heritage sector, with Matteo BistolettiIvano BattagliaFrancesco Santi and Gregorio Mangano, who will address the issue of safety in relation to sustainability, including in the GLAM environment.

Good practices for securing diocesan archives

Prepare actions for the security of archives, including ecclesiastical archives, is essential to deal in the best possible way with any emergencies and it is important to ensure an orderly and coordinated management on the territory through a series of good practices for securing assets. In the world of ecclesiastical archives, and in particular diocesan archives, the work is carried out in synergy by the various presidios in the territory: the diocese, the ecclesiastical region, the National Office for Ecclesiastical Cultural Heritage and religious building.

Don Valerio Pennasso will talk about the protection of ecclesiastical archivesMarica Mercalli will intervene on the security depots during an emergency; the word will then pass to Don Gianluca Popolla, who will talk about the situation of diocesan archives in Piedmont; we will conclude with Martino Dutto, for a focus on problems, risks and good practices for diocesan and parish archives, with a focus on the diocesan historical archives of Cuneo.

Mitigating fire damage: the new Vertical Technical Rule applied to cultural heritage

In 2020, a new technical regulation concerning the prevention of fires in museums and cultural environment was drafted, published in the Official Gazette n.183 of July 22. The decree, drawn up jointly by the Ministry of the Interior and the Ministry of Culture, approves the Vertical Technical Rule dedicated to the protection of museums and cultural buildings with their assets preserved.

With Gioacchino Giomi and Luca Nassi we will deepen the aspects of this decree, and then talk about appropriate solutions with Emanuele Goretti, who will carry out live a demonstration of use of Novec™ 1230

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