Transfer of the physical and digital archive of the Vooruit arts centre
As a result of renovation work and the phasing out of the heritage project, the Vooruit arts centre decided to transfer its digital and physical archive and collection to Amsab-ISG.
In this report you can read about the practical steps that were taken.
- Decision to transfer and choice of depository: March 2014
- Mapping the archive: April 2014
- Discussion of contracts: May 2014
- Transfer of paper archives: May - July 2014
- Transfer of digital archives: September 2014 – October 2014
- Transfer of posters: September – October 2014
- Transfer of iconographic material: still pending
In 2013, in celebration of its centenary, Vooruit art centre initiated a heritage project. As part of this project, they set up a database using CollectiveAccess to register the archive and collection, which includes posters, photos, videos, audio recordings, objects and documentary materials. In 2014, the heritage project was scaled back because part of the building was being renovated and the spaces where the administrative archive was housed needed to be cleared for the work. To ensure the preservation and management of Vooruit’s archive and collection, it was decided to transfer them to the Amsab Institute of Social History.
- Choice of depository
- Mapping the archive
- Discussion of contracts
- Transfer of archive
- Transfer of physical archive
- Transfer of digital archive
- Transfer of posters
- Transfer of iconographic material
Choice of depository
The Vooruit arts centre decided to transfer its archive to Amsab-ISG. The reasons for this were:
- Historical: the first Amsab-ISG office was in the Vooruit. The basis of the archive collection – the archive of BSP Gent-Eeklo – was found in the Vooruit.
- The archive of the socialist Vooruit organisation is kept at Amsab-ISG.
- Amsab-ISG was a partner in the Vooruit’s centenary celebrations.
- Practical: there were already various mutual contacts and collaboration. In addition, the two institutes are housed opposite each other.
Amsab-ISG is therefore a ‘suitable’ storage place for the Vooruit archive. It has plenty of experience with this sort of archive. Vooruit decided to keep only the dynamic archive and to transfer the static archive and collection. The CollectiveAccess database was also transferred to Amsab-ISG.
Mapping the archive
A date was set to conduct a guided tour of the archive with Amsab-ISG. This gave Amsab-ISG an idea of the extent and diversity of the archive. The archivists took photos of the various components and using these created a preliminary overview of the analogue archive of the Vooruit. The archive was mapped.
The Vooruit has a long history, both as an arts centre and before that as a venues for functions for the socialist movement. There are remnants of this long history in various places. A rough overview of the diversity of areas and material:
- various corridors in the cellar
- ‘treasure room’ in the cellar
- other rooms in the cellar
- Majolica room
- attic under the roof-ridge
- employees’ offices
- rooms at the back of the building on various floors
- equipment: scales, meat-cutting machine, fridge etc.
- cinematic material: cash register, projector, adverts, cinema seats etc.
- rolls of film
- decorative items
- front of building decor: pictures, bas reliefs etc.
- exhibition cases
- magazines and publications
- photographic material
- audio (mainly recordings of concerts): cassettes and CDs
- archive of the artistic process (including clips and documentation)
- administrative, paper archive (salary slips, restoration files, correspondence, contracts, accounting etc.)
A second meeting was held to get an idea of the digital archive. The digital archive consists of:
- a heritage server (approx. 110 Gb)
- a video server (approx. 330 Gb)
- image archive (approx. 330 Gb)
- Vooruit game
- Website and social media
- Digitised DAT cassettes (not all cassettes were digitised)
- External digital carriers (quantity not known)
Discussion of contracts
Private individuals are not duty-bound to transfer their archive. There is therefore no legal basis for this. A lot depends on the arrangements made in the contracts. In the case of gifts, Amsab-ISG usually operates on the basis of trust with the source of the archive.
The various types of contracts that Amsab-ISG uses are:
- Deeds of gift: in this case the archive becomes the property of Amsab-ISG. Vooruit does have a right to access the documents and can be involved in any decisions as to which parts are made available to the public.
- Storage contract: the Vooruit remains the owner and retains full responsibility for the archive. The archive can be recalled at any time by the Vooruit. In that case it pays Amsab-ISG for the costs incurred in processing and storage.
- Collaboration protocol: this is not directly related to a transfer, but involves close collaboration between the depository and the archivist. Support is provided in the management of the Vooruit archive.
A collaboration agreement was signed with Vooruit: Amsab-ISG will help Vooruit in the future to manage the dynamic archive.
For the actual transfer a number of things still have to be agreed on and laid down in writing:
- Priorities: which parts of the archive should be transferred first?
- Selection list: this document contains a summary of which documents and objects from the archive and collection are eligible for transfer. Archive material that is still consulted on a regular basis is, for example, is better off being kept by the creator. Moreover, not every document needs to be kept indefinitely. See for this the tool Waardebepaling.
- Transfer list: this is a list in which archive and collection material that has been transferred is briefly described. The transfer list is the first point of access to the archive.
These agreements are made on the basis of a discussion between depository and creator.
At the Vooruit the transfer arrangements were pragmatic. Priorities were established on the basis of what had to be moved before the renovation work started:
- Secretariat archive: these areas had to be cleared before the work began
- Marketing archive: because the secretariat was moving to these offices, this archive also had to be transferred quickly
- The archive in the ‘royal box’, the poster collection, the digital archive and the iconographic material were not an obstacle to the renovation. These transfers were therefore less urgent.
- Secretariat archive: the archivist came along and made a preliminary selection list according to the descriptions on the archive boxes. This list was then checked and adjusted by the Vooruit. After the list had been finalised, the transfer list was ready and the transfer of this part could begin.
- Marketing archive: After a consultation between Amsab-ISG and the Vooruit it was decided to keep the material from the last few years in the Vooruit. As publications and promotion material had been kept in multiple copies, these were removed on site dubbels verwijderd.
- Archive in the ‘royal box’: the archive of the Artistic Projects and miscellaneous items is situated in this part of the building. It was transferred by Amsab-ISG before the start of the Ghent Festivities.
The Amsab Institute of Social History followed the SODA manual to transfer the digital archive.
In order to prepare for organising the digital archive, Vooruit was referred to DigiGIDS. Amsab Institute of Social History also provided a set of guidelines and questions to facilitate the transfer process:
- Can everything that is going to be transferred be put aside in a separate folder? This makes it very clear what should be moved and what not.
- If passwords and/or encryption were used, can these security access systems be removed? Otherwise, it won't be possible to open the files.
- Is it possible to have a directory print of the whole archive in advance? An Amsab-ISG archivist can come along and do this. This will give Amsab-ISG an idea of the content of the archive and will also act as a means of checking whether the transfer is complete.
- Is it possible to generate checksums of the material to be transferred? Then Amsab-ISG will know that nothing has been damaged since the transfer. If the Vooruit cannot create the checksums, can an archivist from Amsab-ISG come along to do it?
- Do you have any idea of the size (in Gb)?
- Which operating system is in use? Is this Windows only? Do you also use special software or file formats in addition to Microsoft Office? Windows and Mac are used at the Vooruit.
How is the transfer going?
- Vooruit first makes a selection of the digital files that have to be transferred.
- Passwords and encryption are removed.
- A directory print is created. This is an overview of the file structure of digital archive that Vooruit wants transferred.
- Checksums of all files are generated. A checksum is a control count to check whether a file has been damaged. Data loss can occur due to bit rot or errors when copying checksums.
- The transfer can then be done via an external network or an external hard drive.
In September 2014 discussions started on the transfer of the posters. It was also decided which selection should be transferred.
Agreements were also made for this transfer regarding the selection and a transfer list was created.
- The physical archive has been transferred. This material is now safely housed in the Amsab-ISG warehouse and will be kept there for the foreseeable future. In the future the digital archive, posters and iconographic material will also be transferred here.
- The archive is to be made accessible by Amsab-ISG archivists. This makes the archive accessible to the Vooruit itself, but also to researchers and interested parties (if the Vooruit gives its approval).
- The Vooruit and Amsab-ISG signed a collaboration protocol. The Vooruit is now being helped to manage the dynamic archive.
Authors: Nastasia Vanderperren (Meemoo), Gert Van Overstraeten (Amsab-ISG)