Databases and archives - how do we handle the digital archives ?

Evy Berg


As the databases grow old and mature, new versions have to be created and published. Often with different technologies than the previous version to enhance user experience. But what happens to the old versions – are they dumped in a digital black hole? For some databases there are rules about how to treat an obsolete version. The National Archives in Norway is responsible for the caretaking of all written materiel, also in the form of digital archives, from the public sector. The deliverance of such data is mandatory. When it comes to a SMR (Sites and Monuments register) the rules are less clear. Also, how should the vast amount of field data from collecting and analysing sites be treated? This includes both written reports, but also all files like GIS, pictures, photogrammetry etc. The file formats keeping the content can be very complex and software – specific. How is this materiel archived for long term storage, and what are the chances that the files could ever be opened in 50 or 100 years’ time? And who is responsible for taking care of them? The museum/research institution where the files where created? Or do they fall in under the responsibility of a National Archive? If so, what rules exist, or should be made, for taking care of the content regardless of file formats?