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 transforms digital objects transferred to the repository into standardized Submission Information Packages (SIPs). It then processes them through a series of micro-services provided by Archivematica scripts and a suite of integrated, open-source tools bundled in the Archivematica system. 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. (i) The Archival Information Package (AIP) contains the original 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. (ii) The Dissemination Information Package (DIP) contains an access copy plus minimal descriptive metadata. Depending on whether access or copyright restrictions apply, Archivematica will either store the DIP offline or send it to the repository's access system, SFU AtoM, for further description by an archivist and public access.


SFU AtoM is the public access component of the repository and runs on AtoM (Access to Memory), an open-source, web-based application for archival cataloguing that integrates with Archivematica and allows 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. SFU AtoM includes descriptions of paper and analog holdings that can only be accessed in Archives or Special Collections reading rooms, as well as access copies (when available) of digitized and born-digital records processed through the Archivematica preservation system.