Three Archives

Creating an Extensible Cultural Heritage Digital Library


The University of Cape Town (UCT) Centre for Curating the Archive (CCA) is responsible for the digitisation and curation of cultural heritage collections containing artefacts from distinct historical events occurring in Cape Town. Three such collections include: Movie Snaps, a collection of photographs taken in and around central Cape Town before and after Apartheid; Harfield Village, an aggregation of artefacts about forced removals of Claremont residents; and Sequins Self and Struggle, a collection containing multimedia objects from the Miss Gay Western Cape and Spring Queen beauty pageants.

Problem Statement

The CCA has successfully digitized the artefacts contained in these archives and has stored them on local hard drives. Thus, the information is inaccessible to scholars, artists, researchers and community members outside of the CCA. Not only are the artefacts inaccessible, but they also lack information such as rich description fields.
The importance of solving these problems lies in the necessity to digitally preserve cultural heritage presented in these archives. Solving these problems will create awareness of minority groups in Cape Town and encourage public contribution, making the collections richer in content.

Solution Outline

A software system was built that provides services that makes the three archives accessible to people outside of the CCA and allows user contribution. These services include browsing, searching, creating and viewing exhibitions, uploading content, viewing user history, populating maps with content, and downloading and adding annotations to content. The system followed a three-layered architecure as per Figure 1. The back-end was responsible for the digital object repository and database to house and manage the digital objects; the interface layer provided the users' with a mechanism to interace with the system and the service layer housed the archival services for the digital library. In addition to this, a configuration layer is present throughout the layers. The configuration layer is responsible for the enabling and disabling of archival services dependent on which archive is being explored. The configuration layer assisted in the creation of an extensible digital library

Figure 1: System Architecture

system architecture

Software Development Procedure

The project was conducted using Crystal Clear and Feature-Driven Development. Crystal Clear is ideal for small groups and was used to manage the project life cycle following the three factors of Crystal: frequent delivery, close communication and reflective improvement. Feature-Driven Development was used to direct the software development process with an iterative process of: plan by feature, design by feature and build by feature.

Figure 2: Feature-Driven Development


The Team

Under the supervision of Hussein Suleman :
Image of Nicole

Nicole Petersen



Exhibition Service
Upload Service
Image of Noos

Noosrat Hossain



Downloads Service
Annotations Service
Maps Service
Image of Nox

Noxolo Mthimkulu



Search and Browse

Copyright © 2015 Nicole Petersen, Noosrat Hossain and Noxolo Mthimulu