History and Achievements
In 1995 the National Library identified the issue of the growing amount of Australian information published in online format only as a matter needing attention. The Library accepted it had responsibility to collect and preserve Australian publications, regardless of format.
In January 1996, the Selection Committee for Australian Online Publications was set up to develop selection guidelines for this category of material. In April 1996 the Australian Electronic Unit (renamed the Digital Archiving Section in 2003) was established to select online publications according to the guidelines, to negotiate with publishers for the right to archive them, and to catalogue them onto the National Bibliograpic Database.
Work proceeded on two levels at the same time - developing policy and theoretical models for the work and undertaking practical experiments in web archiving, storage and access using freely available software. The first two titles were downloaded in October 1996. By June 1997 the Archive contained 31 titles.
At the theoretical level, during 1996 and 1997 a lot of effort went into thinking about what we wanted to do and how we wanted to do it. Two key documents which resulted from this process were the Business Process Model and the Logical Data Model.
By 1998, policy, procedures and infrastructure were sufficiently developed to invite the State libraries to become participants and in August of that year the State Library of Victoria became the first agency to join the National Library in this activity. By March 2004 all of the mainland State libraries, the Northern Territory Library, the National Film and Sound Archive, the Australian War Memorial and the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies had become participants, ten contributing agencies in all.
Initially, PANDORA was supported by a technical infrastructure created from public domain software cobbled together. As the Archive grew and more participants wanted to contribute, it was clear that a more sophisticated system was required. The Library preferred to buy a digital archiving system, rather than build one itself, and as a result it initiated the Digital Services Project. The aim of this project was to acquire technical infrastructure to support all of its digital collections, including PANDORA, and in 1998 it issued an Information Paper. After analysis of the comments provided by potential suppliers of products and services, the Library concluded that there was not yet available in the marketplace a product that would support PANDORA. It therefore decided to build its own digital archiving system.
The Digital Archiving Section worked with first the Business Systems Support Branch and later the Applications Branch to specify the requirements of a digital archiving system, and it was built in-house. The first release of the PANDORA Digital Archiving System (PANDAS) took place in June 2001, with version 2 being released in August 2002. A fully re-engineered and improved version of PANDAS (version 3) was released in July 2007.
The PANDORA Archive has achieved the following objectives:
- a world class archive of selected Australian online publications, such as electronic journals, government publications, and web sites of research or cultural significance;
- policy, procedures and selection guidelines for the collection and provision of long term access to items in the Archive;
- a collaborative national approach to the archiving and long-term preservation of Australian online publications, involving the participation of State libraries and other cultural institutions
- a digital archiving system (PANDAS) to streamline the gathering and loading of publications into the Archive, store information about them, and manage public access to them. As well as the Production system, Test, Training and Evaluation systems are maintained. Agencies which are seeking to support web archiving programs are invited to evaluate PANDAS;
- a scheme for persistently naming all objects in the Archive and a resolution service to them;
- arrangements with indexing and abstracting agencies under which publications that they are indexing or abstracting are archived in PANDORA and persistent identifiers are provided for citation and persistent access;
- policy development and research into preservation of online publications, including preservation metadata, migration, and risk analysis.