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19
instance GeoTIFF, SVG). From the appli-
cation in which the population register is
kept, only the population data will be
archived as XML documents in the long
run.The boundaries of the database are
also determined at that time. After all,
more and more information systems are
linked and borrow information from each
other.Whether this `external' data will be
archived alongside information from the
system depends on whether the linked
database is archived, and on the frequency
with which this happens.
T
he frequency of record-keeping
actions depends largely on the way
the database system deals with changes. If
adaptations are registered without the old
data being overwritten, then the archiving
frequency will depend on the size of the
database and the performance of the infor-
mation system. Several options are possible
with databases where old data are not kept
separately but is being overwritten. It is
possible either to archive all the basic ver-
sions and subsequently all the changes, or
to archive `snapshots' frequently.This last
option risks losing the intervening ver-
sions. A combination of these methods is
probably most appropriate when all ver-
sions need to be preserved.
4
T
ypical for electronic records is the
need for hardware and software to
reconstruct the records in the future. So, at
the moment of appraisal one should not
focus all the attention on the content of
the database alone. Logic elements and
tools have to be considered for preserva-
tion as well.This will usually be the case
when the original `look and feel' and func-
tionalities or behaviours of records need to
be preserved.The logic layer of an infor-
mation system refers to all elements that
relate to the handling of the input and the
way the output is generated.The tools are
the instruments for input and output. So,
the identification of the components that
will be archived does not depend only on
archival value are being created or man-
aged within the information system. It is
important that this is done while the infor-
mation system is still active.
3
It is at this
moment that the decision is made as to
what will be archived in the long run and
if any special quality demands apply for the
information system.These quality demands
can refer to the file formats, creating nec-
essary structured and explicit metadata,
ensuring reliability, encoding , and will
ensure the creation of electronic records
which can be `well archived' over the long
term. It is important to know these quali-
ties before the new or adjusted informa-
tion system goes into operation.The
archival service should be consulted prefer-
ably when evaluating the new information
system or when the quality manual for the
new or adjusted information system is
being edited.
F
or the identification of the records and
the appraisal, information systems are
regarded as a combination of three active
components: the content, the logic, and the
tools.The appraisal should lead to identifi-
cation of the components that give the
document the status of record. Important
considerations are whether the complete
database, a part of the data or only the
generated output forms the records of the
information system. For example, applied
to a GIS application, this can mean that
the data is archived as GML (Geography
Markup Language) documents or that only
the maps are archived as image files (for
goes without saying that this is too flimsy
a basis for important decisions such as the
identification of the records, appraisal, and
the describing of a record-keeping system.
T
o counter this problem, a new
archival instrument was created: the
information system inventory. In this
information system inventory, civil ser-
vants, system administrators and the
archivist collect the metadata on the elec-
tronic information system starting from
the moment of creation.The form in
which this information system is kept can
vary from a word processing document to
a database. For example, the information
system inventory of the city of Antwerp is
represented in a relational database with
Web interface and dynamic data model.
Such an information system inventory can
achieve other goals as well, for example, a
helpdesk function or the management of
the IT infrastructure.This information sys-
tem inventory offers an added value for
the whole organisation, meaning that the
archivist is not the only party who is inter-
ested in and benefits from keeping the
inventory up-to-date.
PROCEDURE: FROM CREATION
TO ARCHIVING
F
rom the moment that a new informa-
tion system is being developed or an
existing information system is being
adjusted, the information system inventory
has to be updated and the archival services
need to be informed of these changes.This
is a compulsory part of the IT procedure
in the city's administration.The archival
services examine whether any records with
3 INTERPARES 1, Appraisal task force report,p. 9-10. (http://www.interpares.org)
4 N. BÜTIKOFER, Archiving snapshots or transactions: extracting the right data at the right time from temporal databas-
es, presentation given at Erpa Workshop `Long term preservation of databases', Bern, 10 April 2003.
(http://www.erpanet.org)