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2 minutes to read Posted on Thursday February 24, 2022

Updated on Monday November 6, 2023

portrait of Marta Musso

Marta Musso

PR & Communication Manager , Archives Portal Europe

portrait of Kerstin Arnold

Kerstin Arnold

APEF Manager , Archives Portal Europe

Digitise and upload! Promoting ingestion in Archives Portal Europe and Europeana

Archives Portal Europe, as part of its activities as a domain aggregator for  Europeana, recently established two grants for archival institutions to digitise their collections and improve metadata for better retrieval in the portal and on Europeana. We hear about how the grants have enabled digital access to new cultural heritage collections.

Black and white postcard of a row of priests
Ansichtkaart van Titus naar dhr. M.J. de Boer d.d. 8 oktober 1924 vanuit Nijmegen. De kaart bevat een mededeling van de reis van Titus en zijn moeder naar o.a. Nijmegen, Rotterdam, Rijkevoort en Wychen.
Archief- en Documentatiecentrum voor R.K. Friesland
The Netherlands

Two new grants

In 2021, Archives Portal Europe (APE), one of the main Europeana aggregators for historical archives, launched two new grants to promote access and reuse of digitised archival material and to create high quality metadata to be shared on international levels. Both grants were meant to be implemented on a project basis and are part of APE’s contribution to Europeana DSI-4. They were aimed at smaller institutions that might not have the means to be part of international initiatives. 

The first grant was a Metadata Ingestion grant, financed mostly independently by APE. This grant focused on the creation of new metadata for ingestion in APE and on the improvement of existing metadata for better retrieval of archival descriptions. The idea for this grant came from the realisation that there were no funds available to archives to work exclusively on these areas; as an institution dedicated first and foremost to the aggregation of archival descriptions, APE was eager to promote this work. The grant also enabled the creation of enhanced metadata following the Europeana Publishing Framework, such as the inclusion of contextual classes based on Linked Open Data vocabularies to foster discovery.

APE wanted to combine the Metadata Ingestion grant with another funding opportunity dedicated to improved access and reuse of digital archival collections, again following an integrated approach based on the Europeana Publishing Framework. The added value of digital objects was obvious, freeing archive users from long and expensive trips to access the material they need. 

The second grant, the Digitise and Upload grant, was specifically aimed at collections to be shared not only in APE, but also in Europeana, and was allocated in the context of APE’s collaboration within Europeana DSI-4. The grants aimed to support archival institutions to improve access to digitised collections by, for example, integrating direct links to digital objects in the metadata, linking higher resolution images instead of publication versions, or fostering the use of more open licences and rights statements. Applicants to this grant were free in their choice of collections and were supported to prepare the metadata for ingestion in APE as well as aggregating the digital objects into Europeana. 

Winners and collections

In both 2021 and 2022, the grants have been received with a great deal of interest from the international archival community. In both years almost 20 institutions from several countries applied, making it a very difficult task to select the winners! Both grants were open to any institution in the world, whether or not already affiliated to APE or Europeana, as long as they presented collections related to Europe and were willing to accept the terms to become content providers for APE and/or Europeana. The winners were selected based on the potential interest of their collection for users and with the aim to showcase diverse places and historical periods, as well as to support smaller institutions. 

In 2021, there were two winners of the Metadata Ingestion grant. Borthwick Institute for Archives at the University of York (UK) ingested the Oury Archive, the personal collection of colonial-period railways magnate Libert Oury, into APE, making material about economic activities in Mozambique and Zambia available. The Archives Municipales de Lyon (France) used their grant to improve the metadata for collections related to the city that were already available in the portal.

Sketch of the Battle of Gallipoli
Sketch of the Battle of Gallipoli, 3 August 1331 (16 August 1915). In copyright.
Military History Collection, Koç University Suna Kıraç Library
Sketch of the Battle of Gallipoli

The Digitise and Upload grant winners were the Archive and Documentation Centre for Roman Catholic Friesland Foundation (ADRKF) from the Netherlands, which made the family archive of Titus Brandsma, one of the most important Catholic scholars in Dutch history, available on Europeana and APE. Additionally, the Military History Collection of Suna Kıraç Library at Koç University (Turkey) uncovers the lives of soldiers from the late Ottoman period to the early Republic years - see an image from the collection above. You can find more about the winners on the APE blog, with the full reports on the Titus Brandsma project and on the Military Collection report by Suna Kiraç Library. 

The National Archives of Malta were the winners of the 2022 Digitise and Upload grant, with a project that will make a large collection of maps from the island available in digital form for the first time. The Narva City Archives in Estonia won the 2022 Metadata Ingestion grant, and will ingest most of their finding aids in APE. The 2022 grants are still in progress, and the final results should be available by July 2022. 

Find out more 

Given the positive responses and results obtained from the grants, APE plans to make these a long-term commitment of its ingestion strategy. Even small grants like these (from 500 - 10,000 euros) can make a big difference for the digitisation of new collections, and hopefully more institutions in the position to organise small grants for ingestions will follow these steps. The 2023 call for the both grants will open in September 2023 and will be published on the APE blog and social media channels - follow them on Twitter @ArchivesPortal