CASE STUDY

Digital archive objects from several eras from the Burgerbibliothek Bern archived on piqlFilm

Burgerbibliothek Bern

The Burgerbibliothek in Bern is a cultural institution of the Burgergemeinde Bern and houses administrative and private archives, an extensive audiovisual collection and several historically important manuscripts.

The Burgerbibliothek is at the service of the public and research institutions and has therefore digitised a large part of the centuries-old codicis to make them available to the public, while ensuring the protection of the originals. 

In addition to physical archival material, the Burgerbibliothek also manages a number of digitally-born data repositories from the administration of the Burgergemeinde and is responsible for the archiving of these records.

The aim of the pilot project with Piql, in collaboration with archivsuisse, was to comprehensively preserve a diverse selection of data from the Burgerbibliothek’s digital holdings for the long-term on the future proof storage medium piqlFilm. 

With piqlFilm, data can be stored independently and perpetually without recurring data migrations to newer mediums or formats. 

For the project, digitally-born data from the estate of a writer, retro-digitised codex from the 15th century, more than 2,000 digitised historical photographs from the 19th and 20th centuries, and film recordings from the Natural History Museum in Berne that are more than a hundred years old were archived for eternity using the “data on film” principle.

CHALLENGE

Historically significant digital objects such as those held by the Burgerbibliothek, must remain available for a very long time as authentic history. 

Cost-intensive retro-digitisation projects inevitably lead to large and continuously increasing storage costs over time. 

With piqlFilm, the data now stored can be kept offline for centuries without cost-intensive migration of the data or storage medium. 

Once the piqlFilms have been created, they can be stored sustainably without electricity for over 1000 years. 

We have a great responsibility with our valuable and internationally renowned collections, which is part of Swiss cultural heritage, and as an archive that is entrusted with the secure archiving of administrative documents. We see piqlFilm as a convincing and sustainable solution for the permanent archiving of digitised and digitally-born documents, which require large amounts of storage space and do not have to be immediately available.

CLAUDIA ENGLER | Director, Burgerbibliothek Bern

SOLUTION

The various file formats from the writer’s estate were converted from the proprietary formats of the 1990s to PDF/A, retaining the original files so as not to lose any information from the original bitstreams. For the readability of PDF/A and TIFF, relevant applications and format specifications were also placed on the film to ensure future access. 

Likewise, all metadata from the existing archiving system of the Burgerbibliothek was taken over and redundantly stored on the film by means of ingest in the corresponding OAIS-compliant AIPs. 

FUTURE

By storing all this data on piqlFilm, a practical and pioneering example has been provided of how important objects of cultural and historical value can be stored digitally for the long-term without dependence on proprietary software or technology and constant electrical connection. 

The risk of data loss is virtually eliminated and there is no loss of information due to the secure storage of the bitstream.