Archivematica is a digital preservation system that automates the process of preparing digital objects for ingest into a repository, ingesting them into archival storage and providing access to the archived material. The process is monitored and controlled through a Web-based dashboard that co-ordinates a suite of micro-services. It primarily relies on normalisation as its preservation technique.
This project is managed by Artefactual Systems in collaboration with the UNESCO Memory of the World's Subcommittee on Technology, the City of Vancouver Archives, the University of British Columbia Library, the Rockefeller Archive Center, Simon Fraser University Archives and Records Management, and a number of other collaborators.
Licensing and cost
The Archivematica code is released under the AGPL version 3. The tool may be downloaded and used free of charge.
Archivematica version 0.10 was released on 1 May 2013. This is the second 'beta' release of the software; the next release is expected to be the first production version. The source code for the tool is available from GitHub.
Platform and interoperability
Archivematica may be installed directly on a Linux system, and specifically targets Long Term Support releases of the Xubuntu operating system. It is also available in the form of virtual machine images that may be run using VMWare, VirtualBox or KVM, which between them may be run on Windows, Linux, Macintosh, or Solaris. Support is included for using Archivematica as a preservation backend for DSpace.
Archivematica uses a micro-services approach, which means it acts as a wrapper for many task-specific applications such as the BagIt library, Clam Anti-Virus, DigiKam, FFmpeg, FITS (File Information Tool Set), ImageMagick, Inkscape, OpenOffice.org, and 7-Zip. The typical workflow is for the curator to assemble a transfer package in the filesystem: a script is provided for setting up the right folder structure, then digital objects are added to one folder and contextual information (e.g. transfer forms, donation agreements) to another. The package is moved to an input folder 'watched' by the main Archivematica Web tool. Through the Web interface, the curator can decide to accept or reject the transfer. If the transfer is accepted, the tool performs an initial analysis – calculating checksums, assigning UUIDs, scanning for viruses, extracting metadata – and then offers to create a Submission Information Package (SIP); it is also possible to create one or more SIPs manually. Metadata can then be added to the SIP before it is ingested. At ingest, the curator can choose various routes such as Preservation (where the digital objects are normalised to archival formats and transformed into an Archival Information Package, or AIP), Access (where the digital objects are normalised to dissemination formats and transformed into a Dissemination Information Package, or DIP) or repackaging without normalisation. Further functions are provided for moving AIPs into archival storage and uploading DIPs to the Qubit access portal.
Documentation and user support
The online documentation for Archivematica includes a User Manual, a walkthrough tutorial, screencasts, a requirements specification (including use cases, activity diagrams, recognised significant properties of various media and media preservation plans) and a description of the technical architecture. Community support is available through the Archivematica Discussion Group.
The majority of operations are accomplished through a simple Web-based graphical user interface. For some, such as the manual construction of Submission Information Packages, a graphical file management tool (Thunar with additional scripts) is provided, though in future releases such tasks may be supported by the Web interface instead. Reports on the ease of installation and the robustness of the system are mixed but improving; see for example the experiences of Bonnie Weddle and Angela Jordan with version 0.7, and Jenny Mitcham with version 0.9.
The system is easy to use, though as it draws heavily on the OAIS Reference Model some familiarity with that model is needed to understand the workflows Archivematica supports. If using the virtual machine image, some experience of running virtual machines is advantageous but not essential. If installing directly on a Linux desktop or server, a little more technical expertise is required (e.g. for setting up ports correctly). Currently it is only possible to customise the normalisation routes by editing the commands stored in the system's MySQL database.
The functionality of Archivematica is clearly based on that defined by the OAIS Reference Model. The Archival Information Packages generated by the system use the BagIt packaging format, in conjunction with a METS packaging manifest incorporating PREMIS metadata. Metadata entry is through the profile of Dublin Core used by ICA-AtoM (Qubit).
Influence and take-up
Archivematica is used by at least 30 organisations.