Title:From at risk to open access: The Endangered Archives of the world
Authors:Tristan Roddis, Adam Farquhar
Publication:MW18: Museums and the Web 2018

The Endangered Archives Programme (EAP) contributes to the preservation of archival material that is in danger of destruction, neglect or physical deterioration worldwide.

Delivered by the British Library, London, and funded by Arcadia, a charitable fund of Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin, EAP supports the preservation of important at-risk photographs, documents, manuscripts, and other items from around the world; it facilitates digital capture of these items, and shares over six million images online. The Programme has accomplished this through funding over 320 projects in 80 countries around the world.

The Endangered Archives Programme has been running for over ten years, initially with a mission to preserve, and more recently with an additional mission to digitize and share.

This paper reflects on the shifts in preservation and digitization, process, and emphasis over that time; explores what we have learned (and what we still don’t know) about archiving in the digital age; and looks ahead to the digital archives of the future.

With the shift towards providing access online to the files digitized through the Endangered Archives Programme, we recently upgraded our Web presence, moving from a proprietary system to open-source technologies like Drupal and Solr, and new community-driven frameworks including the International Image Interoperability Framework (IIIF).

We will share key learnings from that process, including how we dealt with substantial amounts (over 200TB) of data and millions of images; how we managed the quality of that data; how we upgraded our systems and processes in line with best practice, including IIIF and Solr search; and how we did it all within an aggressive timeline, with eight weeks from initiating the project to launch.

Our learnings from the Programme as a whole and the recent redevelopment will be relevant, useful, and actionable for anyone working with archives, digital collections, preservation, or large amounts of data.