What technical skills are required to install/maintain/operate Archivematica?
To install and maintain Archivematica successfully, you or someone in your organization should be comfortable using and maintaining Linux-based servers, logging in to the server and performing operations via the command line. This individual should also be able to read and understand and/or research errors in Linux based systems to assist with troubleshooting.
Operating Archivematica takes place in a web-based dashboard so an archivist/librarian/curator does not necessarily need to have the same skill set described above, so long as someone in their organization is able to provide technical support. Some familiarity with OAIS will make Archivematica more intuitive to use but is not necessarily a prerequisite.
Organizations that are unable to provide in-house technical support may consider a maintenance contract through Artefactual Systems.
I’m having a problem with installation/Why is Archivematica difficult to install?
Archivematica is a complex piece of software with many dependencies, all of which are open-source. Because of its complex, open-source nature, it is not feasible to create a click-through executible file for installation.
If you encounter errors during installation you are welcome to post your errors to our user forum. Artefactual Systems, or other Archivematica community members, will do their best to help you. Please be patient: answering questions from users is unsponsored work and it can take a while for us to respond when we are busy.
What does Archivematica do?
The main purpose of Archivematica is to create standards-based, self-documenting and system-independent archival information packages (AIPs). An AIP includes a METS XML file with a robust PREMIS preservation metadata implementation, and is packaged in the Library of Congress BagIt format, which includes file manifests and information about the AIP contents. The physical and logical structure of the AIP is described in the METS structMap.
Does Archivematica perform fixity checks?
Archivematica generates checksums upon transfer of objects into the system, and will verify those checksums before storing the AIP. It is also possible to include pre-existing checksums, which Archivematica will also verify.
To check fixity of AIPs in storage, Artefactual has written a separate command-line app called Fixity (further user documentation for Fixity is pending).
Is Archivematica a storage system?
Archivematica is purposefully designed to be storage system agnostic, leaving the door open for integration with a wide variety of existing storage systems.
What is the Archivematica Storage Service and why is there a separate application?
The Archivematica Storage Service manages the storage and transfer source locations for Archivematica installations. Our recommendation is for each institution to have one or two administrators who are responsible for managing the Storage Service and restrict access to only those individuals. This is one of the reasons why it is maintained as a separate application; another reason is so that multiple Archivematica pipelines can be managed through one Storage Service.
What is Archivematica’s capacity? How much can it handle?
Capacity is highly dependent on the resources allocated to the servers on which the software is installed. Archivematica has been successfully tested with SIPs of 100,000 files and with video files of several TB each. No maximum size or number of files can be specified; Artefactual works with clients to determine optimal use cases and workflows on a per-institution basis.
What is the format and structure of the Archival Information Package (AIP)?
The Archivematica AIP consists primarily of the ingested objects, any preservation masters generated during processing, and technical, preservation, audit and descriptive metadata encoded in METS XML. The METS file contains a robust PREMIS implementation, including the Object, Event, Agent and Rights entities. Dublin Core is supported as a descriptive metadata standard.
What kinds of preservation metadata is included in an AIP’s METS XML file?
Archivematica by default includes a very robust PREMIS implementation which includes the Object, Event, Agent and Rights entities. Standard Events include ingestion, fixity check, message digest calculation, unpacking, decompression, virus check, format identification, format validation and normalization. The names of the software platform, the organization and the logged-in user are captured as Agents for each Event. Rights statements can be ingested as csv metadata or added by the user via a metadata-entry template during processing.
Can I appraise and arrange records in Archivematica?
Yes! In Archivematica 1.6 an appraisal dashboard allows the user to perform archival appraisal and arrangement activities on ingested files. Submission documentation such as donor agreements, transfer forms and accession records can be added to the SIP for preservation along with the ingested digital objects, and are identified as submission documentation in the preservation metadata in the AIP. In AtoM, an accessions module allows users to record accessions, accruals and deaccessions and to record information about appraisal and selection.
Why doesn’t Archivematica have a module for providing access to digital materials?
In a manner of speaking, it does! It’s called AtoM and it is another open-source, freely available software application managed and developed by Artefactual Systems. Archivematica and AtoM are developed in conjunction with one another, and you can send access copies from Archivematica to AtoM, while maintaining a link between your preservation copies and the access copies. AtoM can also be used to manage archival descriptions for all of your digital and analogue material, so your users do not have to consult multiple systems to do their research.
We recognize that you may wish to use a different access system than AtoM, which is why we have developed workflows with CONTENTdm, Islandora, DSpace, Archivist’s Toolkit and ArchivesSpace, for example. Other integrations are possible; see the next question below.
Can I describe content in Archivematica?
You can ingest metadata as a CSV file or through the dashboard while processing. However, Archivematica is not an archival description system. In-depth contextual and content description can be done through an access system like AtoM.
How does Archivematica prevent viruses?
All ingested content is automatically scanned for viruses and malware using clamAV, a well-established open-source software tool that comes bundled with Archivematica. Virus definitions are updated on a regular basis.
What is normalization and how does normalization work?
Transcoding, or normalization, is automated through the use of preservation commands entered into the Format Policy Registry. Bundled tools for transcoding include ffmpeg, Inkscape, Ghostscript and ImageMagick. The FPR comes with hundreds of format-specific commands which can be edited by the user.
How do I know if there are errors during ingest?
Errors are indicated in the Archivematica dashboard during processing. Alerts can also be emailed to designated users and certain types of error reports are retained in the Administration tab of the dashboard. The corrective action will depend on the nature of the error; examples include rejecting the transfer or SIP and starting again, accepting the error and continuing the process, taking corrective action and re-running the micro-service or troubleshooting the issue through the command-line.
I need to use Archivematica in conjunction with another system (for access, storage, etc). How can I integrate the two systems?
The list of systems and tools that Archivematica is integrated with grows with almost every release. If you are interested in having Archivematica integrate with a system which is not currently on our Roadmap, here are a few ideas:
- Post to the user forum and ask community members if they have any experience creating a workflow between Archivematica and the other system.
- If you have software development skills, consider writing to code required to integrate the two systems. If practical, we would gladly accept the code into the Archivematica code base via a pull request .
- Contract Artefactual Systems to write the code. We will work with you to identify requirements and include the new integration code in the next software release, for the entire community’s benefit.