Out and about or Hub contributor training

Every year we provide our contributors and potential contributors with free training on how to use our EAD editor software.

The days are great fun and we really enjoy the chance to meet archivists from around the UK and find out what they are working on.

The EAD editor has been developed so that archivists can create online descriptions of their collections without having to know EAD.  It’s intuitive and user friendly and allows contributors to easily add collection level and multi-level descriptions to the Hub.  Users can also enhance their descriptions by adding digital archival objects  – images, documents and sound files.

Contributor training day

Our training days are a mixture of presentation, demonstration and practical hands on. We (The training team consists of Jane, Beth and myself) tend to start by talking a little about Hub news and developments to set the scene for the day and then we move onto why the Hub uses EAD and why using standards is important for interoperability and means that more ‘stuff’ can be done with the data. We go from here on to a hands-on session that demonstrates how to create a basic record. We cover also cover adding lower level components and images and we show contributors how to add index terms to their descriptions. (Something that we heartily endorse! We LOVE standards and indexing!).

We always like to tailor our training to the users, and encourage users to bring along their own descriptions for the hands-on sessions. Some users manage to submit their first descriptions to the Hub by the end of the training session!

This year we have done training in Manchester and London, for the Lifeshare project team in Sheffield and for the Oxford colleges. We are also hoping (if we get enough take up) to run courses in Glasgow and Cardiff this year. (6th Sept at Glasgow Caledonian, Cardiff date TBC. Email archiveshub@mimas.ac.uk to book a place)

So far this year three new contributors have joined the Hub as a result of training:  Middle East Centre Archive, St Antony’s College, Oxford; Salford City Archive and the Taylor Institute, Oxford. We’ve also enabled four of our existing contributors to start updating their collections on the Hub: National Fairground Archive, the Co-operative Archive, St John’s College, Oxford and the V&A.

We have been given some great feedback this year and 100% of our attendees agreed/strongly agreed that they were satisfied with the content and teaching style of the course.

Some our feedback:

A very good introductory session to working with the EAD editor for the Archives Hub. I have not used the Archives Hub for a long time so an excellent refresher course.

This was a fantastic workshop – excellently designed resources, Lisa and Jane were really helpful (and patient!). The hands-on aspect was really useful: I now feel quite confident about creating EAD records for the Hub, and even more confident that the Hub team are on hand with online help

The hands on experience and being able to ask questions of the course leaders as things happened was really useful. Being able to work on something relevant to me was also a bonus.

Excellent presentation and delivery. I came along with a theoretical but not a practical knowledge of the Archives Hub and its workings, and the training session was pitched perfectly and was completely relevant to my job. Many thanks.

The Hub team train archivists how to use the EAD editor, archive students about EAD and Social media and research students in how to use the Hub to search for primary source materials. You can find our list of training that we provide on our training pages: http://archiveshub.ac.uk/trainingmodules/ .  We’re always happy to hear from people who are interested in training – do let us know!

HubbuB

Diary of the Archives Hub, June 2011

Design Council Archive poster
Desing Council Archive: Festival of Britain poster

This is the first of our monthly diary entries, where we share news, ideas and thoughts about the Archives Hub and the wider world. This diary is aimed primarily at archives that contribute to the Hub, or are thinking about contributing, but we hope that it provides useful information for others about the sorts of developments going on at the Hub and how we are working to promote archives to researchers.

Hub Contributors’ Forum

At the Hub we are always looking to maintain an active and constructive relationship with our contributors. Our Contributors’ Forum provides one way to do this. It is informal, friendly, and just meets once or twice a year to give us a chance to talk directly to archivists. We think that archivists also value the opportunity to meet other contributors and think about issues around data discovery.

We have a Contributors’ Forum on 7th July at the University of Manchester and if any contributors out there would like to come we’d love to see you. It is a chance to think about where the Hub is going and to have input into what you think we should be doing, where our priorities should lie and how to make the service effective for users. Just in case you all jump in at once, we do have a limit on numbers….but please do get in touch if you are interested.

The session will be from 10.30 to 1.00 at the University of Manchester with lunch provided. It will be with some members of the Hub Steering Committee, so a chance for all to mix and mingle and get to know each other. And for you to talk to Steering Committee members directly.

Please email Lisa if you would like to attend: lisa.jeskins@manchester.ac.uk.

Contributor Audio Tutorials

Our audio tutorial is aimed at contributors who need some help with creating descriptions for the Hub. It takes you through the use of our EAD Editor, step-by-step. It is also useful in a general sense for creating archival descriptions, as it follows the principles of ISAD(G). The tutorial can be found at http://archiveshub.ac.uk/tutorials/. It is just a simple audio tutorial, split into convenient short modules, covering basic collection-level descriptions through to multi-level and indexing. Any feedback greatly appreciated – if you want any changes or more units added, just let us know.

Archives Hub Feature: 100 Objects

We are very pleased with our monthly features, founded by Paddy, now ably run by Lisa. They are a chance to show the wealth of archive collections and provide all contributors the opportunity to showcase their holdings.  They do quite well on Google searches as well!

Our monthly feature for June comes from Bradford Special Collections, one of our stalwart contributors, highlighting their current online exhibition: 100 Objects.  Some lovely images, including my favourite, ‘Is this man an anarchist?’ (No!! he’s just trying to look after his family): http://archiveshub.ac.uk/features/100objects/Nationalunionofrailwaymenposter.html

Relevance Ranking

Relevance ranking is a tricky beast, as our developer, John, will attest. How to rank the results of a search in a way that users see as meaningful? Especially with archive descriptions, which range from a short description of a 100 box archive to a 10 page description of a 2 box archive!

John has recently worked on the algorithm used for relevance ranking so that results now look more as most users would expect. For example, if you searched for ‘Sir John Franklin’ before, the ‘Sir John Franklin archive’ would not come up near the top of the results. It now appears 1st in results rather than way down the list, as it was previously. Result.

Images

Since last year we have provided the ability to add images to Hub descriptions. The images have to be stored elsewhere, but we will embed them into descriptions at any level (e.g. you can have an image to represent a whole collection, or an image at each item level description).

We’ve recently got some great images from the Design Council Archive: http://archiveshub.ac.uk/data/gb1837des-dca – take a look at the Festival of Britain entries, which have ‘digital objects’ linked at item level, enabling researchers to get a great idea of what this splendid archive holds.

Any contributors wishing to add images, or simple links to digital content, can easily do so through using the EAD Editor: http://archiveshub.ac.uk/images/ You can also add links to documents and audio files. Let us know if you would like more information on this.

Linking to descriptions

Linking to Hub descriptions from elsewhere has become simpler, thanks to our use of ‘cool URIs’. See http://archiveshub.ac.uk/linkingtodescriptions/. You simply need to use the basic URI for the Hub, with the /data/ directory, e.g. http://archiveshub.ac.uk/data/gb029ms207.

Out and About

It would take up too much space to tell you about all of our wanderings, but recently Jane spent a very productive week in Prague at the European Libraries Automation Group (ELAG), a very friendly bunch of people, a good mix of librarians and developers, and a very useful conference centering on Linked Data.

Bethan is at the CILIP new professionals information day today, busy twittering about networking and sharing knowledge.

Lisa is organising our contributors’ workshops for this year (feels like our summer season of workshops) and has already run one in Manchester. More to follow in Glasgow, London and Cardiff. This is our first workshop in Wales, so please take advantage of this opportunity if you are in Wales or south west England. More information at http://archiveshub.ac.uk/contributortraining/

Joy is very busy with the exciting initiative, UKDiscovery. This is about promoting an open data agenda for archives, museums and libraries – something that we know you are all interested in. Take a look at the new website: http://discovery.ac.uk/.

With best wishes,
The Hub Team

Training and the Archives Hub.

A couple of weeks ago I took part in a training session for postgraduate students from the English department at the University of Salford. This had been organised with Ian Johnston, University Archivist at Salford, and Professor Sharon Ruston from ESPaCH. (School of English, Sociology, Politics & Contemporary History)

Training Room

Sharon kicked off the session by explaining what archives mean to her career and how she had actually made her name and written a book on the strength of some new evidence that she uncovered about Shelley and his desire to be a doctor: Shelley and Vitality (Palgrave Macmillan, 2005), which explored the medical and scientific contexts which inform Shelley’s concept of vitality in his major poetry.

She went on to detail some of her new research on Humphry Davy (examining poetry & science) and explained that although it can often be a lot of effort to look for archives, it can pay dividends if you put the time and energy into searching.

Ian then took the floor and showed the students some of the hidden gems from the University’s archives. He also brought some items with him – a letter from Edith Sitwell, papers from the Duke of Bridgewater archive etc. He also showed some photos of Salford University in the 1970s. We were all fairly amazed by the picture of the paternoster lift, which is a lift that doesn’t stop. Literally you have to jump on as it’s going past. Talk about students living dangerously!

Ian explained why Salford University contributed to the Hub: the benefits of profile in being part of a national cross-searching service leading to more researchers benefitting from the Salford University Archives Collections.

I then did a demonstration of some different websites where you can search for archives online and went on to show how the Archives Hub, Copac and Zetoc work and the different types of information that you can find in each.

Prior to the session, Ian and Sharon had asked the students for their research areas and I used these as my examples. I find if students cannot easily see how and why something is relevant to them, then they switch off. It’s important to tailor your examples to your audience, whatever level they are studying at.

We then got the students to have a go themselves as we walked around the room and gave more individual help. This worked really well as each student got at least 5 or 10 mins of one-to-one help on searching for their particular subject area.

We were all really pleased with how the session went. I could actually see the students sit up and take notice when Sharon was talking about making her name from finding new knowledge. It underlined how primary source material can lead to students incorporating unique perspectives to their research. I feel that this was key to the success of the session. The students were able to see how important archives had been to someone who they respected and knew was an expert in her field.

Ian showed them actual papers and letters from the archive and this allowed them to see concrete examples of what we were talking about, as opposed to thinking about archive materials in an abstract and ‘virtual’ way by just looking at online finding aids.

Sharon and Ian did a great job of explaining the benefits of using archives, I just told them how to find stuff… It was great to see how engaged the students were with what we were explaining to them. So much so I’ve been asked back for a repeat performance. (With the academics!)