25 September 2006

Web archiving milestone

Mugs, teapot and kettleGood to see in the Washington Post that the British Library's UK Web Archiving Consortium shares the Hub team's high opinion of the Nice Cup of Tea and a Sit Down site.


21 September 2006


1980s C.N.D. badge: Protest and Survive September's Collections of the Month is on the theme of nuclear power and nuclear weapons, and takes its title from the stunning BBC television drama Edge of Darkness (1985). It's difficult to think about nukes without going apocalyptic - early drafts for this Collections of the Month had the working title "Wormwood", from Revelation 8:10-11.


15 September 2006

And we thought indexing for the Hub was hard...

An accidental posting by Ellen Chapman (of the Archives & Manuscripts Department at the University of Hawaii at Manoa) to the US Archives and Archivists mailing list brightened my morning today. It was a link to an article by Philip O'Leary in the most recent edition of the Annals of Improbable Research about the complexities of indexing Celtic languages. The article is available in PDF format, and is definitely worth reading if you've been struggling with creating index terms in English.


14 September 2006

EAD has a new schema (nearly)

I have been looking at the beta version of the new EAD schema today. This will eventually replace the DTD that we currently use to validate our EAD files. Usually when I investigate new standards and technologies, the way is fraught with problems, but this was almost indecently easy.....Actually, I should make clear that I mean easy to link to and validate some test documents. When it comes to actually thinking about making all of our Hub data validate to the schema, that may throw up far more issues. It seems that the main changes for us will be to do with the values for date ranges, the use of xlink to create links, and the need to change the repository code values (i'm still a little unclear about how this will actually work). Isn't it nice when something turns out to be far more straightforward than you thought it would be!


12 September 2006

Journey through time and space

At the Society of Archivist's annual conference, I presented a talk as part of Louise Craven's 'What are Archives? Use and Users' programme. The complete text and images of my talk are now on the Hub website.


The Tomorrow People

I attended the Society of Archivists' conference last week. It was quite a long and full programme, extending from Tuesday afternoon to Friday morning. The theme was 'Education, Development and Tomorrow's Professionals'. I used to want to be one of the Tomorrow People when I was a kid and at this conference I gave a talk on myself as a 'tomorrow's professional'. Well, I'm not able to teleport and I'm not telepathic, which is a shame, but I thought it was worth raising the subject of an archivists, such as myself, who do not actually look after archives, be they paper or binary. As I work for the Hub, an archival gateway, my work is all about enabling cross-searching of descriptions of archives. I hope that I made the case for the importance of archivists being willing to become more technically-aware and the importance of understanding technical concepts and language to a degree in order to work successfully with software developers and systems support staff. Whilst the majority of archivists are not likely to need to gain an in-depth knowledge of systems, metadata standards, protocols, etc., it is going to be necessary for an increasing minority to be willing to work more closely with new technologies. In addition, we need to be aware of the way that younger people especially are working with the Web. The morning session during which I gave my presentation was introduced with a very fine paper by Louise Craven from The National Archives talking about new ways of thinking about archives and the status of community archives and internet archives. Caroline Williams from LUCAS then talked very eloquently about the new prioritising of personal papers, which have traditionally been under-valued compared to organisational archives. Both of these papers raised the concept of context, which is so central to the way that we think about archives. The lively discussion after the session continued this theme. We usually think in terms of archival context, but it is something that is worth thinking about in a broader framework. For instance, the whole issue of context on the Web and the way that people use Web resources is well worthy of further thought. It may be that archivists find it increasingly difficult to promote the importance of archival context in an age where users so often create their own context. In the end, documents can have any number of contexts, and this will affect the way that they are interpreted. Maybe all we can do is to ensure that the archival context is maintained, for those who want to recognise it.


08 September 2006

Well worth going to see

The CILIP Rare Books and Special Collections Group Conference was fascinating: there were some excellent, thought-provoking presentations and an opportunity to see the Giant's Causeway (described by Samuel Johnson as "worth seeing, yes, but not worth going to see"). The slides from the presentation I gave on the Archives Hub are available in PDF format. In the talk I mentioned that we have recently changed the collecting policy of the Hub to make it possible for institutions beyond the higher and further education sectors to contribute descriptions to theRock formations at the Giant's Causeway, Northern Ireland service. This formalised the existing situation, where some such institutions were already represented on the service through involvement with collaborative projects, and also brought us into line with the practice of our sister service, COPAC, which describes books and other printed materials in a range of research libraries.


04 September 2006

Conference season

Members of the Archives Hub team will be out and about this week speaking at two conferences. Paddy and Jane are both going to be at the Society of Archivists' Conference in Lancaster, with talks entitled Permitted use and users: fallout shelter's sealed environment and The new Digital Archivist: From relative isolation to global interoperability, respectively. I'll be crossing the Irish Sea to Coleraine, where I'm talking about the Archives Hub in Opening up the archives: from basement to browser in the conference of the CILIP Rare Books and Special Collections Group.