Review of 2006

Archives Hub Christmas CardIt’s been an eventful year for the Archives Hub, so I thought I’d take this chance to select a few highlights.

Development work has been proceeding fast on the Spokes software. John Harrison (over in Liverpool), Jane and Steve have put a lot of energy into this and we’re also grateful to all the ‘early adopters’ who’ve given us so much useful feedback. I’m sure that 2007 will see widespread uptake of this software, which gives institutions a low-cost way of presenting their EAD files online. ELGAR is the Spoke installation at the John Rylands University Library here in Manchester, which has not been live for long, but which is already appearing in search engine results for searches on the names of John Rylands collections.

The Hub’s collections of the month have been brilliant this year: I think my favourite one was June’s look at Romanies and Gypsiologists, which is a great example of the way that services like the Archives Hub can bring together related collections from a range of archive-holding institutions. Thanks to Paddy for all the work that he does on this aspect of the service.

We’ve had a couple of interruptions to the Archives Hub’s service this year: a major power cut to Manchester Computing’s building in May and a hard disk failure in October. Steve ensured that the interruptions were as brief as possible!

We are a small team here, with five of us sharing an office, but all three of the men became fathers during 2006, so best wishes to all the new families for their first Christmas.

In the last week a complimentary review of the Archives Hub and other MIMAS services was published in the Guardian newspaper (scroll down the article to ‘The MIMAS Touch’), which was an excellent way to end the year.

We wish all our users, contributors and colleagues a happy Christmas and a fulfilling 2007.

The image is of the 2006 Archives Hub Christmas card, in case you didn’t get a hard copy version. Snowflakes were made using the Make a Flake site.

Spokes 3.1 update

Hammering spokes into wheel hub using head of axe: wheelwright Evan Jelbert and father, James, in workshop at Gulval, Penzance, Cornwall / photograph by Fox Photos Ltd.; from Farmers Weekly picture libraryJohn Harrison is working away in Liverpool on the next version of the Spokes software, which we hope to make available for download in August. So if you are thinking of installing the software, we’d advise waiting for the next version rather than going ahead with the current version, 3.0.4.

The image shown here is from the photographic collections at the Museum of English Rural Life (P FW PH2/W20/3).

Both a sp

Had a meeting in Aberystwyth yesterday with some archivists who work for higher education institutions in Wales. Some are interested in using the Spokes software to host their multi-level finding aids. It soon became clear that the attitude of their respective IT departments had a lot of influence on the likelihood of their adopting the software. One institution faced a long wait before the software could be installed, while another’s IT section was willing to set a machine up almost immediately, happy to give their team more practice with setting up a Linux server.

Much of the discussion revolved around the problem of obtaining funding for creating those multi-level descriptions. It is widely felt that getting money for cataloguing projects is increasingly difficult, despite the widespread need for the backlogs to be tackled. Catalog Cymru is a project that has recently started in Wales to assess the significance and extent of uncatalogued materials held in 22 repositories in the country.

Another point of discussion was whether the Archives Network Wales would be able to host full finding aids in the future, as this is a purely collection-level service at present. Again, the answer will depend on the availability of future funding.

I think that the title to this entry reads ‘Hub and Spokes’ in Welsh, but please let me know if that’s wrong!

Spokes software now available

Town Crier ringing handbell
We are delighted to announce that the Spokes software is now ready to download for testing. You can preview the software on our test Spoke here in Manchester (which has a random selection of various repositories’ records at the moment). We’ll post URLs of other Spokes as repositories make them available to the public. You can download the software from Full instructions are available from the Hub site, whether you are installing for the first time or updating an existing Spokes 3.0 installation.

We took this photograph from our office, by the way.