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PReserving Online Multiple Information: towards a Belgian StratEgy (PROMISE)

Research project BR/175/A3/PROMISE (Research action BR)

Persons :

Description :


The web is an essential means of communication, which makes it very valuable from a heritage perspective. However, the preservation of online content has not received much attention to date. The short lifespan of online content poses serious challenges for preserving this digital heritage for future research. Compared to other European countries, where national archives and libraries have been working for many years to implement web archiving, Belgium is lagging considerably behind in this area.

To tackle these challenges, Federal Scientific Institutions (FSI's) need to address web preservation as a cultural and historical necessity. These kind of projects are relatively new in Belgium and it seems natural that the question of online information preservation and web archiving should be studied by the two FSI skilled in the domain of heritage preservation: the Royal Library of Belgium and the National Archives. In this context, PROMISE aims to set up a long-term web archiving strategy for Belgium.

From a methodological point of view, the PROMISE project will first collect data (from legal texts, existing initiatives, institutions’ roles) by means of a literature review and in-depth semi-structured interviews with representatives of web archiving initiatives abroad. Based on the gathered information, a viable strategy and policy to capture and preserve online content on the Belgian web will be drafted. This model will be validated by undertaking a pilot web-archiving exercise. Lastly, the PROMISE project will draft recommendations for the implementation of a sustainable web archiving service in Belgium.

PROMISE is an inter- and multidisciplinary project that integrates different scientific disciplines. The different partners offer a variety of skills: collection, preservation and management expertise at KBR (coordinator) and AGR (partner 2), knowledge of the legal frameworks in place and issues in domains such as ICT and archiving at CRIDS (partner 3), knowledge of library science at URF-SID (partner 4) and skills in communication and digital research at Ugent (partner 5). Also, the nature of digital data studied from a preservation point of view in PROMISE is very diverse in terms of format (e.g. e-administration, online publications, blogs, official and non-professional websites, etc., …) and in terms of content given the particular linguistic characteristics of Belgium.

First, the PROMISE project will enrich scientific research and knowledge regarding the legal issues linked to the legal deposit obligation in an online context and to web archiving. Secondly, this project is in line with the work done by information sciences specialists to meet the new challenges in terms of archival/library sciences and records management. The scientific community that will be reached by this project is very large: professionals from the information sector, professionals from the IT sector, professionals from the law sector, users from different fields who are interested in web archives.

The scope of the PROMISE project complies directly with different national and international policies.

The PROMISE project aims to guarantee access to information, which is one of the major challenges of our society. The preservation of an important part of today’s information and work, i.e. information and work disseminated through the web, is of great interest to heritage preservation.

At the end of this project, KBR and AGR will have a viable model for preserving online information to enrich their collections and provide new content (historical data) to its general and scientific audience. Indeed, the strategy developed by the PROMISE project will allow these two scientific institutions to increase their resources in order to ensure their legal mission and to meet citizens’ expectations (administrative transparency, observing the political life). Thus, the research project will serve as stepping stone for the modernisation of the roles of public institutions.

At the end of the second year a colloquium will be organised, the objective of which will focus on interdisciplinary approaches to a web archiving initiative. This one-day event will also offer the opportunity to exchange ideas and experiences with other professionals with regard to similar initiatives and other observed facts.

Documentation :

  • Project Website

    Preserving Online Multiple Information: towards a Belgian strategy (PROMISE) : final report 2020  Di Pretoro, Emmanuel - Geeraert, Friedel - Mechant, Peter ... et al.  Brussels : Belgian Science Policy, 2020 (SP2881)
    [To download

    Preserving Online Multiple Information: towards a Belgian strategy (PROMISE) : summary  Di Pretoro, Emmanuel - Geeraert, Friedel - Mechant, Peter ... et al.  Brussels : Belgian Science Policy, 2020 (SP2882)
    [To download

    Het bewaren van veelsoortige online informatie: naar een Belgische strategie (PROMISE) : samenvatting  Di Pretoro, Emmanuel - Geeraert, Friedel - Mechant, Peter ... et al.  Brussel : Federaal Wetenschapsbeleid, 2020 (SP2883)
    [To download

    Préserver les multiples informations en ligne : vers une stratégie belge (PROMISE) : résumé  Di Pretoro, Emmanuel - Geeraert, Friedel - Mechant, Peter ... et al.  Bruxelles : Politique scientifique fédérale, 2020 (SP2884)
    [To download

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