By Maria João Pires de Lima, Director of the Porto Regional Archive, Porto, Portugal
(Portuguese version available by clicking “Keep reading” ; Versão Portuguesa disponível em “Keep reading”)
At the beginning of the millennium, the vision of Porto Regional Archive management for the relationship with the different publics/clients/users, envisaged the globalization of its presence using the information and communication technology. In the absence of the adequate resources, this global project could only be materialized through various projects, two of which – Digitarq and CRAV – with specific relevance, either for the financing obtained, or for the innovating nature and “contribution for the development of the Information Society” as recognized by the prize Fernandes Costa – Agência para a Sociedade do Conhecimento (Agency for Knowledge Society), awarded in year 2004.
DigitArq project (2003-2004) allowed that, as from April 2004, the user could search through the Internet on a database of archival descriptions and view digital images of documents whenever available. The project had two fundamental areas:
1) Conversion of all description/research tools of the almost 700 fonds in our custody, produced along the years, from their analogical supports and formats (paper) and digital (Arquebase, Word, Excel, Access, Filemaker) to one standardized from the archival point of view (EAD, ISAD, ISAAR; EAC) and computing (DTD-EAD e XML) tool.
2) Design and development of a structure to receive/integrate and manage digital objects (DO) limited to digitised images of documents.
We developed applications to manage the descriptive and technical meta-information and the search by user. This information system of archival description (DigitArq) keeps under different levels the description of documents that are being produced, the technical information of digital objects reproducing the documents and the images produced for Internet.
Since the beginning of 2008 that Porto Regional Archive allows the online access to the whole of services provided to users of reference and reading, including in this area, besides the search and reading/consultation of documents (since 2004), the supply of reproductions in digital format and the access to functionalities as the electronic payment of services (credit card and ATM). The system will allow, as soon as legally possible, the remote download of digital certified copies by users everywhere in the World.
This second project, CRAV – Consulta Real em Ambiente Virtual (“real reading in virtual environment”) – gave the user access online not only to the information in our custody but also to the services provided concerning the documents: the research, reproduction and certification.
The projects developed allowed the acquisition of knowledge relevant also to the consulting area and technical assistance. On the other hand, aiming to promote the preservation and access to national archival heritage, under the permit of the Directorate General of the Portuguese Archives (DGARQ) – and, previously, of Institute of National Archives/Torre do Tombo – , Porto Regional Archive allowed the use of the application developed by the DigitArq project to more than two dozens of other entities.
Presently these applications are provided by DGARQ “open source and no charge”. This is a significant step in the direct support to the archival community and to the national institutions extended to the international community.
The recognition of the work developed comprises still the adoption by DGARQ of the set of applications DigitArq for its archives network: remaining Regional Archives, Arquivo Nacional Torre do Tombo (National Archive) and Centro Português de Fotografia (Portuguese Centre of Photography, a national archive for photography).
For further information about Digitarq, please consult the following web pages:
1. “Digitarq project” document http://www.adporto.pt/ficheiros_a_descarregar/1-5_digitarq_project.pdf
2. Porto Regional Archive (CRAV) http://www.adporto.pt/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=17&Itemid=41&limit=1&limitstart=2
Porto Regional Archive can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org