Some good developments
We’ve started off 2012 with two new developers for Mimas, both of whom will be doing some work for the Hub. Neeta Patel will be working on the UKAD website and some of the Hub interface developments and challenging global edits to help us improve the consistency and utility of the data. We also have Lee Baylis, who is working on our Linked Data project, Linking Lives. He will be helping to design the interface, and is currently beavering away on some exciting ideas for how researchers could customise their display for our biographical interface.
Punctuation for Index Terms
Something that may seem small, but is mighty complicated to execute: Currently we have a mixture of index terms with punctuation and no punctuation. This is because some descriptions came to us with, some without, and some through our EAD Editor – which adds punctuation (so these descriptions are all fine).
Just go to browse and search for ‘andrews’, for example, to see what I mean. You can see:
Andrewes, Lancelot, 1555-1626, Bishop of Winchester
Andrews Barbara B 1829 Nee Campbell
The second is a little confusing without punctuation. But it is not easy to find a way to include punctuation for so many different names, with titles, dates, epithets, kings, queens, floruits, circas, etc. So, we are going to attempt to write scripts that will do this for us, and we’ll see how we go!
Alternative and Former Reference
We’ve taken a while, but finally we are displaying ‘former reference’ with an appropriate field heading. It has been complicated partly because descriptions with these references often come from the CALM software, and some contributors want the former reference to be the current reference, because they don’t use the CALM automatically generated reference, whilst most want it to be the former reference, and for some it is more of an alternative reference. Finding it impossible to attend to all these needs, we are displaying any reference that is labelled as ‘former reference’ in the markup with the name of ‘Alt. Ref. Number’. This is a compromise, and at least ensures that all references are displayed.
Assessment of ICA AtoM
The Archives Hub is undertaking a review of current software, and as part of this we are looking at ICA-AtoM (Access to Memory). We will be undertaking a fairly detailed assessment of the software, from installation through to upload, search, display and other aspects such as scalability, Google exposure and APIs. We feel that AtoM offers a number of advantages, as free open source software, conforming to archival standards and with the the ability to incorporate name authority records and controlled vocabularies. We are also attracted by the lively international community that has built up around AtoM, and the ethos of sharing and working together to improve the functionality.
It will be interesting to see how it compares to our current software, Cheshire 3, which offers many advantages and sophisticated functionality, build up over 10 years to meet the needs of the Hub and archival researchers. Cheshire has served us very well, and provides stiff competition for any rivals, but it is important to assess where we are and what is best for us going forwards. Looking at other systems offers us the opportunity to think about functionality and assess exactly what we need going forwards.
We are constantly updating our pages, and adding new ones. Recently we’ve revamped the ‘Why Contribute?’ page as well as creating a new page, Becoming a Contributor. If you know of any archivists interested in the Hub, maybe you could point them to these pages as a means to provide some compelling reasons to be part of the Hub!
Our two latest contributors illustrate admirably the great diversity of Hub repositories. We have the Freshwater Biological Association with a collection about lakes and rivers in Cumbria and Scotland (if you ever wanted to know about bacteria counts, for example…), and also the National Meteorological Archive looking for a fair outlook by promoting their collections on the Hub.
Some of you may have seen the announcement of the Open Data Strategy by the European Commission. This is very much in line with the increasing move towards open data: “The best way to get value from data is to give it away”. The Archives Hub fully supports this ethos, and we will release all our data as open data unless any contributor wishes to opt out.
The Hub team wishes you all the best for 2012!