25 March 2007

Archival Word of the Week: Chit

Chit saying 'This person is entitled to one Hot-Cross bun'Noun, Anglo-Indian. Alright, it's not an archival term, but it might be useful for certain kinds of memo. Perhaps it just entered the lexicon at the wrong time! I hope this handy word won't be killed off by American English. All the vocabulary in this weekly feature so far has been of Latin or French origin. A variety of Latin was used by officials and academics into the 18th century, and of course archival theory developed in France. That's not to mention those Anglo-Normans! See also: Collections of the Month: Cor, blust, squit!


18 March 2007

Archival Word of the Week: Provenance

Rugby playerEvery archival collection is unique, and the individual documents within them are likely to be unique as well, so it's essential to establish where a collection has come from, and what has happened to it over time - so that researchers can then judge the quality of the material, and place it within a context where it can be interpreted. Descriptions on the Archives Hub provide details of provenance under the headings 'Custodial History' and 'Immediate Source of Acquistion'. Archivists and researchers also use the phrase 'chain of custody' or 'chain of ownership' when discussing provenance. See also: Guided Tour: Custodial History and Immediate Source of Acquistion.


16 March 2007

Undergraduate experience of university libraries

Library shelves, University of ManchesterA post by Brian Mathews (a librarian at the Georgia Institute of Technology) on his Ubiquitous Librarian blog compares undergraduate levels of library usage and satisfaction in UK and US universities. He looked at information from SCONUL and compared it with statistics from the US Association of Research Libraries (ARL). He notes that usage of libraries by undergraduates is much higher in the UK:
...86% indicate daily or weekly use, while the US is around 50%. When asked about using library web resources they were at 77% daily/weekly, while US was between 40-50%.
but that levels of satisfaction with space and resources are much lower and that our printed materials and journals are 'barely adequate'. He expresses surprise at this, but it sounds like an issue of under-resourcing to me and probably won't surprise staff working in UK universities. The difference in usage levels are interesting though - why are they so much higher here?


15 March 2007

BBC 2.0

BBC2's opening night logoThe Archives Hub's funding body, JISC, held a one-day conference on Tuesday in Birmingham. One of the keynotes was by Tom Loosemore, of the BBC's Future Media and Technology section. The slides and notes of Tom's talk on the fifteen Web Principles of BBC 2.0 are worth a look. The image of BBC2 on its opening night has been taken from The Ident Zone. The logos from the BBC's own site can't be shared on the web (cf. Principle #13).

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11 March 2007

Archival Word of the Week: Muniment

A Rolls There are lots of muniments described on the Archives Hub, sometimes within the records of universities themselves. An Anglo-Norman word, a muniment is a legal document, such as a title deed, preserved to protect ownership or privileges. Muniments may date back many centuries. Often found in rolls. Links: Not to be confused with monuments or Humument ...


07 March 2007

Watt a good idea

Archives Hub is steam-poweredAmanda sent me a YouTube link on the theme of Web 2.0 a few weeks ago. I was reading about James Watt (1736-1819) at the time, for a Collections of the Month feature. Watt devised a radical improvement for the widely-used but inefficient Newcomen steam engine, by simply separating out a key process into an external mechanism. It struck me that this was a lot like XHTML, and a fundamental principle of XML ...

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06 March 2007

Travel tip for Berlin conference

I'll be talking about the Archives Hub at the International Standards for Digital Archives Conference which runs from 24-26 April in Berlin. I'd booked my flights a month or so back, but discovered yesterday that British Airways had cancelled them. Great. Couldn't alter the booking online, so I spent 10 minutes on hold on the 0870 number trying to get through to the airline to get alternative flights. Then my brighter other half used the brilliant 'Say No to 0870' site to see if there was an alternative, cheaper number. Even better, there's a freephone number: 0800 123111 and my call to that number was answered straight away (as BA have pay for those calls). Thought I'd share this just in case anyone else is in the same situation!


05 March 2007

Archival Word of the Week: fl.

Flower bedAbbreviation for the word 'flourit', 'fluorit', or 'floruit'. The Oxford English Dictionary says 'floruit', but you will probably see these variations, even on the Archives Hub, very sorry about that. Pronounced 'floor-yuh-it'. When an index term for a proper name requires a date, but if neither the birth nor end date is known to the cataloguer, then the archival material being described can provide a date when its creator 'flourished', in the sense that they were obviously active, rather than at the peak of their career or somesuch. Illustration with apologies to Sonny Carter. See also: Archives Hub Guided Tour: Personal Name.