History: the KB and digital preservation

In the 1990s the KB was one of the first (national) libraries to become fully aware of the electronic revolution in the publishing world and to develop a strategy for digital publications. Various research reports had already indicated that digital publications have countless advantages, such as almost immediate world-wide distribution through the internet, but that their longevity was threatened by frequent changes in software and hardware (a.o. Rothenberg, 1995, rev. 1999). It rapidly became apparent that special measures would be needed to secure long-term usability of digital resources. As to the exact nature of those measures, more research was called for.

Dedicated storage and technical research

From the beginning, the KB actively participated in those technical research projects, which are often organised at the European level. One of the first milestones was constituted by the NEDLIB-reports (KB with IBM, 2000), and many publications have since seen the light of day, as the technology continues to develop and new challenges have to be met all the time (see also the KB Research pages).

The KB also decided to build a dedicated storage facility for long-term preservation of digital publications. As this was new territory, and a market for such systems had not yet developed, the KB entered into a joint-venture with IBM to develop a system for long-term preservation of digital objects.

On 12 December 2002 the first journal artikel was loaded into the dedicated DIAS system (more information on these early days can be found in Steenbakkers, 2002 and Steenbakkers, 2003). The e-Depot system was based on the reference model of the Open Archival Information Systems standard (OAIS), the first version of which had been published in 2002. The DIAS system was developed primarily to secure long-term preservation of Dutch electronic publications in the Dutch deposit library. A special e-Depot department was created to manage the e-Depot workflow.

Developing the international e-Depot service

Even before the e-Depot system was launched it had become apparent that electronic publications would not only have technical consequences, but would also greatly affect the organisation of the publishing world and the role of (national) libraries. It had been customary for many years for national libraries to collect publications from within their national borders and to archive them for posterity. The KB is one of those deposit libraries for Dutch printed heritage.

Electronic publications, however, are simultaneously published all over the world by international publishers and often lack a clear-cut 'nationality'. The KB therefore decided to develop a new type of service: digital archiving for international scholarly publications. The concept was developed of a 'Safe Places Network' in which four or five digital archives, located in different parts of the world, would make sure that scholarly information would remain usable into the future. The international e-Depot was born.

A successor for the DIAS system

After almost ten years of service, the DIAS system was phased out. In 2012 it was succeeded by a digital repository which is being updated in-house continually.

More information

More information about the KB and digital preservation through the years as well as the history of the e-Depot is available from the references in our list of publications on digital preservation.