Tuesday 18 October 2011

Visit of the Polish National Digital Archives

On Friday 14th October ARMMS had a visit from Sebastian Zduńczyk, Artur Łysik, Arkadiusz Świątek and Andrzej Kochaniak of the Polish National Digital Archives - Narodowe Archiwum Cyfrowe (NAC) – who gave a presentation about the their organisation. The NAC is one of the three main sections of the Central State Archive in Poland and is located in Warsaw.

Although an ‘Archives of Audio-Visual Records’ had existed in Poland since 1955, it was not until 2008 that it was transformed into the National Digital Archives as a response to the emergence and growth of information technologies. Its main activities are to preserve digital and non-digital photographs, film and audio recordings, and to create digital versions of non-digital archival material for sharing online. At the beginning of 2011 the archive held 30 terabytes of data. Although the NAC is part of the Central State Archive many of these collections are from external organisations.

A large part of this process involves scanning microfilm and each year; between one and a half and two million frames are scanned using state of the art equipment. The NAC also scans photographs and documents, either from its own collections or sent by external organisations. As well as being digitised these items are microfilmed as part of an overall preservation strategy and the NAC now holds some 72 million microfilm frames.

The NAC is also developing websites that permit public access to much of the digitised material and there are over 150,000 digital images on the Audiovis website. Another initiative is the development of a web interface – ZoSIA - that permits access to information about archival collections in the Central State Archive as well as regional State archives across the whole of Poland..

After the presentation the NAC team was given a tour of the University Archives. They were surprised to see photographs of a young Andrzej Wajda, the famous film director, taken by the Hungarian photographer Michael Peto, as well as other Peto photographs showing Warsaw’s immediate post-war restoration and development. These included an image of a part of Warsaw very near the NAC’s own building.

This insight into the work of the National Digital Archives was very interesting and enlightening and we were particularly impressed by the scope and scale of the organisation’s work.

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