Technical overview

SFU Archives' digital repository is built around two open-source technologies: Archivematica for digital preservation and AtoM (Access-to-Memory) for access.


Archivematica is an open-source software application developed by Artefactual Systems Inc. Archivematica processes transferred digital materials through a series of scripts and a suite of integrated, open-source tools. Micro-services uncompress all zipped files, assign unique IDs and checksums to each object, run virus checks, extract and record technical metadata, identify file formats, and normalize files (make copies) to preservation and access formats based on rules codified in the Archives' Format Policy Registry (FRR).

At the end of the micro-services "pipeline," Archivematica produces two outputs: an Archival Information Package (AIP) and a Dissemination Information Package (DIP). The AIP contains the original digital objects, plus copies normalized to the preservation format, plus all the associated metadata wrapped together as a single object using the METSPREMIS, and BagIt standards; the AIP is sent to archival storage for long-term preservation. The DIP is a smaller, more portable access copy that can be easily presented online or delivered offline. If no access or copyright restrictions apply, Archivematica will send the DIP to the Archives' public access system, SFU AtoM, for further description by an archivist.


SFU AtoM is the public access component of the Archives' digital repository and runs on AtoM (Access to Memory), an open-source, web-based application for archival cataloguing that integrates with Archivematica, allowing digital materials to be directly linked to their archival descriptions.

SFU AtoM implements the Canadian descriptive standard, the Rules for Archival Description (RAD). It is shared by SFU Archives and SFU Library's Special Collections and Rare Books division to provide a single portal for researchers to search the archival holdings of both repositories. In additional to the digital access copies processed through Archivematica, SFU AtoM also includes descriptions of paper and analog holdings that can only be accessed in Archives or Special Collections reading rooms.

Last updated: May 10, 2024