Arca Info for Your BCHDP Grant Application

Are you:

  • thinking of or in the process of applying for a BC History Digitisation Program (BCHDP) grant?
  • considering using the Arca repository to make your digital content available to the public?

If so, the following information may be useful for your grant application.

What is the Arca digital asset management system/repository?

Arca is BC’s award-winning collaborative digital repository, used by over 50 post-secondary and public libraries, galleries, museums, archives and historical societies. Through shared infrastructure, centralised coordination and a collaborative approach, Arca maximises system efficiencies through centralised licensing, expertise, best practices, and support. Visitors to the Arca repository at can search across free, online digital assets from all participating organisations.

Arca is built on Islandora, a Canadian-developed open-source repository platform. A shared instance of Islandora is hosted in BC at the SFU Cloud Hosting facility. The Arca Administrative Centre, hosted at BC ELN, provides centralised service support and training for all participants.

Digital materials off all kinds can be hosted in Arca, including images, books, newspapers, PDFs, citations, videos and sound recordings. Arca is primarily an open access repository with materials freely available online; however access to specific collections or items can be restricted to certain users or groups of users. 

Arca was initially developed with seed-funding from the Ministry of Advanced Education to provide BC post-secondary institutions with access to shared digital repository infrastructure. The Arca Advisory Committee, representative of Arca participants and responsible for oversight of Arca operations, has since extended Arca's mandate beyond the post-secondary sector in order to benefit other BC GLAM sector organisations. 

For more information about Arca, visit the Arca pages on the BC ELN website

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What standard metadata schema does Arca use?

Arca uses the Metadata Object Description Schema (MODS):  We adhere as much as possible to the DLF Aquifer Guidelines for Shareable MODS.

The Arca Administrative Centre will support you in using our MODS metadata templates and guidelines for creating or transforming existing metadata. This will include guidance on field order, use of controlled vocabulary and mandatory fields including title, creator, type, and date.

We will work with you to ensure standardised application of metadata guidelines to the information you have for your content. Additionally, once uploaded into Arca, your metadata will be automatically transformed into Dublin Core and made widely searchable throughout the Internet via Arca's OAI-PMH feed.

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How will my digitised materials be made freely available online?

Content uploaded into Arca that is intended to be openly accessible is freely searchable via an intuitive, user-friendly search interface at As well as seaching your content alonside over 800 other BC collections, users can choose to search within your specific content via collection-specific search forms. Arca's powerful SOLR indexing and search engine allows your users to search the full-text of newspapers, books and articles, which are automatically OCR'd during upload into Arca. 

Collections each have a unique and persistent URL, as does each individual object, making it easy to link to collections or objects from an existing website. Each Arca collection leverages the visibility of all other Arca collections from more than 50 GLAM and post-secondary organisations. Collections also benefit from Arca's standard search engine optimisation, ensuring high placement in Google searches. 

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How can Arca support my digital preservation plan?

Hosting digital materials in Arca provides an additional access copy of content beyond the archival masters you maintain yourself. Arca access copies are securely stored on SFU's Cloud servers, and backed up as part of SFU Cloud standard backup procedures. If you do wish to preserve your archival masters in Arca, this can be done for an additional cost through our partnership with COPPUL's WestVault archival preservation service; please contact the Admin Centre for details.

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Last updated: 2020/09/29