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Berndorf digital archive growing all the time: stories of one thousand and one uploads



BERNDORF (4 July 2018) – The team behind the “Topotheque” digital archive at Berndorf recently celebrated a major milestone. At the end of June the number of pictures, texts and sound files in Berndorf AG’s public web archive passed the one thousand mark. The electronic exhibits, open to everyone at http://berndorf-werk.topothek.at, provide some highly personal insights into 175 years of history at the company’s Berndorf plant.

With the number of exhibits up by 130 percent since the archive went online just nine months ago, the Berndorf Topotheque is the eighth fastest growing archive of its kind in the whole of Lower Austria. The original idea behind Topotheques was to give local authorities – with the support of volunteer curators from the general public – somewhere to digitalise, upload, tag and add keywords to images and documents charting everyday local history in the communities they serve for people to browse and add comments to on the internet.

In September 2017 Berndorf AG became the first company to adopt the system, when it enlisted the support of a dedicated team of retired and active employees to help document the 175-year history of the original Berndorf site. Since the launch, the initial collection of 400 historic documents and photos has grown to just over 1,000 digital exhibits.

Info, photos and documents wanted!
“This milestone was only possible thanks to the amount of support we received from the community,” explained Walter Gruber, long-serving master electrician at BSG in Berndorf, talking on behalf of the Berndorf Topotheque team. There are other ways to contribute besides providing historic photos and other images, the team members are always happy to receive additional information on existing exhibits. “Anyone know who the people on this photo are?” is the most commonly asked question that crops up on the internet.

Fresh information and tips from users can help provide direct answers and additional information. Anyone with old photos or documents relating to the site’s past or who wants to help share Berndorf’s captivating history should get in touch with Andrea Gruber (topothek@berndorf.co.at). The archive’s capacity for remembering details is growing all the time as a result – highlights from the Berndorf archive include historic apprenticeship certificates, accounts of the company fire service’s flood rescue operations, photos of retirement parties and documentation of one-off commissions and forgotten products.

Topotheques conquer Europe, with Berndorf leading the way.
Photographs and documents relating to the historic Berndorf bell foundry during the interwar period were recently cited in a meeting of the Lower Austrian State Archive as an example of the unique nature of the digital records stored in these highly diverse databases. There are already 200 such archives online in Europe, 50 of which are outside Austria in countries including Croatia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Romania, Sweden and Spain, and more are launching all the time.