The eastern and north-eastern European archives between digitisation, Web 2.0 and social media

Vortrag von Doreen Kelimes M.A. (Stadtarchiv Speyer), APEx-Conference, 26. – 28. Juni 2013 / Dublin

– The presentation “The eastern and north-eastern European archives between digitisation, Web 2.0 and social media” based on an article for the German blog “Archive20” and presents briefly several online-databases and digitisation projects of archives in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and their Web 2.0 activities

– The following topics are:

1. Digitisation projects

2. Social media

– Several cultural institutions seize the possibilities to present their collections digitally and create virtual reading rooms and online-databases

– Especially the first projects based on the digitisation of register of births, deaths and marriages and church books

1.1 Estonia

– The National Archives of Estonia create a Virtual reading room to centralize web resources and essential information aimed at archives users

– Two databases of Estonian sources for research are SAAGA and AIS

– The most important project SAAGA is a collection of digitized archival records from National Archives of Estonia and Tallinn City Archives

– In November 2004 the first prototype of SAAGA was released and made available in the local network in the reading room of Estonian Historical Center and the first public web version was released in May 2005

– The initial objective of SAAGA was to enable access to several archival materials, for example church records, soul revision lists, military records, family archives and also to German Baltic genealogical sources, which were digitized during the cooperation project of Estonian National Archives, Marburg Herder Institute and Baltic German Genealogical Society (from 2011 to 2013)

AIS is a electronic database of the National Archives of Estonia and Tallinn City Archives, which enable users to find books in the library’s collection and allows users to search for documents preserved in the archives

– Other information systems for audio-visual archival records can be found on FIS (Filmarhiiviinfosüsteem) and FOTIS (Fotodeinfosüsteem) for searching in the archival photo collection

– The user have also an access to a register of the maps (Kaartide Infosüsteem) in the National Archives of Estonia, which contains descriptions and digital images of maps that are stored mostly in the two largest archives of Estonia – Estonian Historical Archives and the State Archives

– At the moment the archives are involved in further projects, for example:

– Two Beginnings of the Republic of Estonia

– APEX (Archives Portal Europe network of eXcellence), package 6 “Usability and Web 2.0 (portal will be completed by 2015)

– YEAH (You! Enhance Access to History), there will be implemented the principles of crowdsourcing and descriptions of the software for e-services of the archives by 2014

SHIPWHER (Ship Wrecks in the Baltic Sea)

1.2 Latvia

– The mission of the Latvian State archives is to secure the accumulation, appraisal, description, preservation, access and use of national documents

– The main aim of the important project Raduraksti, which realised from 2007 to 2010, is to create and support on-line resources for family history research and ensure the proper preservation of originals of the microfilmed and digitalized records

– The records were also presented in a virtual reading room and the project realized the Directorate General of Latvia State Archives, the Latvia State Historical Archives and the Central Micro photocopying and Document Restoration Laboraty

Central Register of National Archive Fond (contains information about the records of National Archival Fonds of Latvia, i.e. about the fonds of state and municipal institutions and enterprises, commissions, significant events and activities

Database of the State Archive of Latvia

– European archival legislation online Euronoms

– The Baltic Connections – is an international effort to uncover the archives of the common post of the countries around the Baltic Sea during the period from 1450 to 1800

– The database aims at covering the most relevant repositories in Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Poland, Russia and Sweden and comprisesthemes such as trade, shipping, merchants, commodities, diplomacy, finances and migration.

1.3 Lithuania

Epaveldas is a project for digitisation of Lithuanian Cultural Heritage with project duration of 30 months after signing the agreement in 2010

– Project partners are the Lithuanian Art Museum, Lithuanian Archives Department under the Government of the Republic of Lithuania and the National Library of Lithuania (MartynasMažvydas)

– Project objective include the expansion of the network for the creation of digital content by establishing new digitisation centres and units; expansion and development of the virtual system for digital cultural heritage; ensuring digitisation of cultural heritage objects and access to them

– Another great project by Lithuanian Central State Archives is called Filmarchives online – Finding Moving Images in European Collection

– Filmarchives online is the result of the MIDAS project and had been initiated as pilot project in the MEDIA Plus programme of the European Commission

–  It ran from 2006 until 2009 and was carried out by 18 institutions and archives under the lead of the DeutschesFilminsitut – DIF

– The focus is on non-fiction material, i.e. documentary and educational films, newsreels, travelogue, advertising

1.4 Poland

– The cooperation of the Polish archives in digitisation is very comprehensive and they are involved in several projects to digitalize their whole archival collections

– The online-database is a project by the National Digital Archive with a release in 2009 and serves as a basis for the digitized collection of several Polish States Archives such as Lublin, Poznan, Warsaw and Gniezno

– Its primary purpose is to provide online descriptions of archival material from the National Archive and other cultural institutions, gathered in the Integrated Archive Information System ZoSIA

– In 2013 especially the online-database is expanded in two steps: Firstly the website is redesigned and a digitized collection of more than 5 million images is added to the database in March and June 2013

– The aim of the site is full accessibility and openness

– Other projects such as SEZAM, IZA, PRADZIAD and ELA offer a possibility to research in several archival collections and contain information, descriptions and data of various archival materials preserved in all state archives

– The Head Office of State Archives is involved in projects such as:

– Casualties and victims of repression under the German occupation since 2006

– APENET Project – Archives Portal Europe

– Reconstruction of the Memory of Poland

– Index Programme


2 Web 2.0 and Social Media

– The technology and the Internet is changing the ways that archivists interact with their user and it is becoming an increasingly integrated part of our whole lives

– The term Web 2.0 now is more relevant than ever and the so-called social media point out to a new generation, a new perception of the Web

– With the use of the Web 2.0 technologies the archives also create a new form of interactive conversation with users and also with other institutions

– An important aspect of these new conversation is also be the way that they change the relationship between the archivist and the user and of course this could be a basis to becoming an interactive archivist

– Networking as an important keyword means new ways of public relations and communication, but much more possibilities (i.e. tagging, crowdsourcing, collaborative, descriptions)

– Web 2.0 means Wikis, blogs, micro blogging, social networks, social bookmarksand podcasts

– The most important and the largest social network is Facebook, where the archive address a larger and younger audience, find possibilities for contacts, promoting and community building

– Generally, all the presented archives are using the social networks, especially Facebook

– The use of the social media by the current archives is very different, but the activities are not at a standstill

– The communication in social networks is especially in the native language

– In due to that fact the communication depends on the current user

– Mainly all the archives of the presented countries are using Facebook and other applications, for example Twitter, Foursquare, Skype, Flickr, Pinterest

– Posting on Facebook by all archives means: actual information and photos about practical work “live photos”, invitations / reports, articles about events, presentation of historical photos

– All current archives didn’t ignore the fact, that for the most Internet users social media is everyday life

– The following examples of joining Facebook will show you the time when the archives started to use Web 20 applications

– In Estonia the “Virtual Reading Room” and the social media activities are an integrated whole

– The archives of Estonia have been using Facebook since 2010

– On Facebook the user not only finds the presentation of the archives, but also Estonian archival projects, for example SHIPWHER

– In the case of the Latvian Archives the use of social media is very different

– There is no clue for social networks with the exception of the Latvia State Archive of Audio-visual Documents

– In 2012 the archive joined Facebook, so the use of social media is very new.

– The Lithuanian Archives are centralized on the website of the Office of the Chief Archivist of Lithuania as a guide to each archive

– Here the user finds news-blog, online-exhibitions, projects and reports

– In Lithuania the use of social networks is very different, too

– The first archive joined Facebook in 2009.

– These archives are the Lithuanian Special Archives, the County Archives Vilnius and the National Library, which provides also the project of Epaveldas

– The main page of the Polish archives is “The Head Office of the State Archives” and here the user get all his information about the archival structure, addresses, news, reports about events, aims, publications and links to the online databases

– In Poland the archives use the possibility of social media very comprehensive.

– For example the National Digital Archive already joined Facebook in 2008 and has more than 36.000 likes.

– This archive was one of the first to use this new possibility to present its archival work with help of the Web 2.0 applications in Poland

– The Head Office of State Archives joined Facebook in 2010 and centralized all the news of the several state archives.

– At the moment the most of State Archives have their own Facebook account to communicate with their user.

– In the last two years the State Archives expand their Web 2.0 applications.

– Especially the Head Office of State Archives uses regularly other applications, like Foursquare and Twitter


– All the presented archives are working on many projects to use the possibilities of digitisation and Web 2.0

– The social networks are used especially by the Polish and the Estonian Archives as a possibility to communicate interactively and to promote their institutions

– The Lithuanian and the Latvian Archives use social networks very hesitantly and prefer a centralized website, where the user gets all the archive-related information

– So Web 2.0 changes Internet-use and is also a challenge to the archives

– Working in Web 2.0 offers new ways of public relations and communication with the user community


Thank you very much!

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Joachim Kemper (2013, 2. Juli). The eastern and north-eastern European archives between digitisation, Web 2.0 and social media. Archive 2.0. Abgerufen am 24. Juni 2024, von

Joachim Kemper

Wiss. Archivar (Stadt- und Stiftsarchiv Aschaffenburg), Historiker

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