A Summary of Progress
The PANDORA Project was set up in June 1996. It has achieved significant results:
- establishing the PANDORA Archive of selected Australian online publications such as electronic journals, organisational sites, government publications and ephemera
- developing policy and procedures for the preservation of and provision of access to Australian online publications
- developing a proposal for a national approach to the long term preservation of these publications.
- establishing a service for indexing and abstracting agencies by archiving indexed and abstracted items upon request and allocating a persistent identifier to them
The current focus of the PANDORA Project is the development of an improved collecting system for gathering Web sites for the PANDORA archive.
At the beginning of 1996, before the PANDORA Project was formally set up, the Selection Committee on Online Australian Publications (SCOAP) developed selection guidelines for Australian Internet publications intended for preservation by the National Library. This was in recognition of the fact that, while it is not yet supported by Commonwealth legislation, the Library's responsibility for collecting the national imprint extends beyond the realm of print publishing to the new forms of electronic publications.
SCOAP acknowledged that in the arena of electronic publishing, the Library would not be able to be as comprehensive in its collecting of electronic Australiana as it is in print. The huge volume of electronic publications and the low research value of many of them led to the Committee adopting a much more selective approach to online publications.
In broad terms, to be selected for national preservation, a significant proportion of an online publication should be about Australia or be on a subject of social, political, cultural, scientific or economic significance and relevance to Australia and be written by an Australian author. Where there are both online and print version of a publication available, the print version will be acquired by the National Collection in preference to the online version. The online version will only be selected for preservation as well if it has significant additional information or value.
The Australian Electronic Unit
The Australian Electronic Unit was set up in April 1996 to implement the recommendations of the Selection Committee on Online Australian Publications and to develop policy and procedures for the management of online publications.
The Unit identifies and selects titles, catalogues them onto the National Bibliographic Database, liaises with publishers, and archives selected titles. Detailed procedures for handling online publications have been documented in the Unit's procedures manual.
In consultation with staff in the Library's IT Facilities Branch, the Unit has also contributed to the development of PAMS, a database for managing information associated with archived titles, and PANTRACK, a system that activates the gathering schedules of titles to be archived.
The Unit has made a practical contribution to discussion in international fora on appropriate practice for the cataloguing of online publications.
The Business Process Model
During the first half of 1997, the PANDORA Project Team developed a Business Process Model the purpose of which was to analyse the business requirements for a sophisticated archive that would robust and scalable to a large collection of titles.
The Logical Data Model
During the second half of 1997, the PANDORA Project Team developed a Logical Data Model which describes the information that would need to be collected and managed in order to administer an archive of online publications. It defines the relationships between data about a given title.
The Digital Services Project
The Digital Services Project was established in 1998 to write the specifications for a technical infrastructure that would support all requirements for the preservation of and access to Internet publications but would also provide an integrated collection management environment for physical format digital publications, digital copies of items in the Library's collection, digital audio recordings, the content of the Library's Information Server, and physical format materials in the Library's collections that require special curatorial control.
The National Model
The National Library considers that the preservation of all significant Australian Internet publications is beyond capability of a single agency and that cooperative efforts among the traditional deposit libraries is essential. It has commenced discussions with the State libraries and ScreenSound Australia with a view to initiating this cooperation. The State Library of Victoria has formally joined the PANDORA Project and is selecting, cataloguing and archiving online Victorian publications. The State Library of South Australia and ScreenSound Australia will also soon become active members of the PANDORA Project. The State Library of Tasmania has its own project in hand to archive Tasmanian online publications, Our Digital Island. The State Library of New South Wales has also been experimenting with archiving selected online titles.
As it is conceived so far, the national model would consist of a network of distributed archives, with each of the National and State libraries working to an agreed set of principles and actions, and gathering the titles for which they accept responsibility into an archive maintained within their own institution. While each library may employ different internal procedures and technical platforms, the basic components of the national model are:
- A set of collection agreements which will delineate the areas in which each participating library will take responsibility for archiving Australian online titles.
- Commitment from each participating agency to catalogue all titles selected for archiving onto the National Bibliographic Database, which will be the principle means of access to the national collection of Australian electronic publications.
- Commitment from each participating agency to undertake the necessary steps to ensure long term preservation of the titles for which it has accepted responsibility.
- Agreement from all participants to negotiate arrangements with publishers that will ultimately ensure open, networked and gratis access to titles in the archive.
Amendments to the Commonwealth Copyright Act 1968 that came into force on 17 February 2016 extended the coverage of legal deposit to digital materials including online materials.
A number of other national libraries and research organisations around the world are also active in investigating solutions for the preservation of Internet publications. The National Library of Australia has sought collaborative relationships with the the National Libraries of The Netherlands, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Canada and Germany, in order to share information and expertise and avoid unnecessary duplication of effort. An issues paper, Developing national collection of electronic publications: issues to be considered and recommendations for future collaborative actionswas presented at an IFLA workshop in August and was positively received. Recommendation 6, 'that national libraries establish a working group to recommend on suitable permanent naming solutions', has already been adopted.
The National Library has implemented a Purl Resolver Service as a partial solution to the need for permanent naming and to address the problem of broken links.
In an attempt to find a more long term and robust solution, as mentioned above under 'International Collaboration', the National Library is a member of a working group of national libraries which has been set up to investigate the use of Uniform Resource Names (URNs).