Archives in Flight: Delivering Australian Archives to Researchers

Associate Professor Gavan McCarthy1, Mr PeterTonoli1

1eScholarship Research Centre, University of Melbourne, Parkville, Australia,

2eScholarship Research Centre, University of Melbourne, Parkville, Australia,


The eScholarship Research Centre (ESRC) at University of Melbourne has linked its archival services with AARNet’s storage service “CloudStor” by using the Filesender API. As the digital transformation of research expands so too do the research support and collection services evolve through integration with national research infrastructure. Rather than attempting to provide access to privacy and rights-compromised materials online, the ESRC are working to deliver these types of unpublishable materials directly to the researcher under explicitly articulated conditions. The service is designed to allow archival collection materials to be delivered via request by an online form to researchers anywhere in the world.  A policy framework (where the user supplies information and agrees to the conditions by click-through) combined with the file sending and notification functions in CloudStor support utility and efficacy interests of the ESRC and the research community.

A researcher searching the web (the ESRC finding aids and item descriptions are indexed by search engines), will locate the archival item they want (that has defined conditions of use), click the link which takes them to the online form to complete, and click deliver.  The process called the Digital Archives Delivery Service (DADS) is envisaged as an extensible web service and operates as follows.

  1. The researcher’s request conveys to DADS the key metadata describing the materials, the associated obligations and the location of the material for transfer.
  2. In response to the request the DADS then batches and loads the files into CloudStor.
  3. A notification is sent through the Filesender function in CloudStor to the researcher that reiterates the obligations associated with having a copy of the materials.
  4. The researcher, if happy to comply with those obligations, can then download the files.

The request for the supply of archives process happens in a matter of seconds through lightweight technical integration and because CloudStor operates on the national high speed network provided by AARNet that meets the needs of research and education. The transaction is documented both as records (emails) and data and is provided to the archive enabling both accountability and continuous reporting.

The DADS source code, and documentation is located on GitHub ( for those interested in what happens technically through the use of the Filesender API, e.g. get/send commands.  The ESRC have completed the first two cycles of proof-of-concept with DADS and the capacity to report on the implementation phase is anticipated by 2018.

This presentation will cover the journey of implementing DADS, from ideation, working with the different perspectives in a multi-disciplinary environment, to creating a minimum viable product (MVP). The benefits of working in an agile manner, and developing a MVP, as opposed to a ‘perfect product’ in the academic environment will also be discussed.


Associate Professor Gavan McCarthy is Director of the University of Melbourne eScholarship Research Centre in the University Library founded in 2007. His research is in the discipline of social and cultural informatics with expertise in archival science and a long-standing interest in the history of Australian science. He contributes to research in information infrastructure development within the University and his projects highlight strong engagement with community. His distinctive cross-disciplinary research reaches into other fields such as education, social work, linguistics, anthropology, population health and history. He re-examines theoretical foundations and tests new theories through practical interventions with a focus on public knowledge domains, contextual information frameworks and knowledge archives.

Peter Tonoli is an Information Technology Consultant at the eScholarship Research Centre University of Melbourne, with a Masters Degree in Information Technology Management majoring in Information Security, Graduate level qualifications in Project Management and Management, and industry certifications in IT Project Management, Information Security and IT Service Management. He is a freelance information security, digital rights and online privacy consultant, servicing individuals and organisations across the government, media, community, non-profit and medical research sectors. His involvement in information technology security and management dates back to the establishment of the Internet in Australia. He has a long history of voluntary community involvement including holding committee positions on various IT industry peak bodies. Peter is currently a Board Member of Electronic Frontiers Australia, and a Non-executive Director of Internet Australia

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