Thursday, 22 March 2012

UKAD Archives Discovery Forum 2012

A few reflections on the UKAD Archives Discovery Forum 2012 that I attended yesterday

The day started with a really interesting keynote piece from Bill Thompson (BBC) about his role in using the archives to forge partnerships with a range of organisations and he highlighted the range and diversity by talking about several projects including a project this summer with the Arts Council, the centenary of the First World War and an exciting initiative called Digital Public Space (diagram on collectionslink website)

Joy Palmer (MIMAS) gave a talk about the JISC Discovery programme and the ongoing work to demystify aspects like APIs, persistent URIs, user interfaces and measuring both impact and value.

Teresa Doherty (The Women's Library) then spoke about name authority records and how you can help make your collections more discoverable by adding links to the archives from relevant biographical pages on Wikipedia - something we started to do at Hull several years ago but this was a useful reminder to revisit this simple approach that can have a huge impact on the visibility of your collections.

After a great networking opportunity called lunch Lindsay Ould (Kings College London) talked us through the JISC funded FIDO project (Forensic Information in Digital Objects) and their experiences, highlighting a range of technical, skills-based and ethical issues and also their use of OS Forensics software.

I then gave a presentation about born-digital archives, but took a different approach - instead of focussing on the work we have undertaken at Hull I presented a very brief SWOT analysis to highlight many of the issues we have experienced.

There was then a series of short presentations including Sam Velumyl (The National Archives) who gave an overview of the TNA Finding Archives project , Teresa Dixon (West Yorkshire Archives Service) spoke about the History to Herstory website which features over 80,000 images including the Amy Johnson letters held at the Hull History Centre.

Kimberly Kowal (British Library) spoke about a crowd-sourcing map project which saw 725 maps geo-referenced in a week (see a blog entry about this project) and Alison Cullingford spoke about the Research Libraries UK Unique and Distinctive Collections project.

The final session was from Bill Stockting (British Library) about the completion of the Integrating Archives and Manuscripts System - bringing a vast number of legacy data sources and systems and over 1.5m records together and this now sits behind the site.

Despite all of this there were a host of other sessions I would like to have attended including linked data, the National Archives new catalogue and the Old Maps online project.

Update 2nd April - slides from the sessions have been added to The National Archives website, see the Documenting Collections page

Monday, 19 March 2012

Archives and Society

Two weeks ago I spoke at the Archives and Society series of tasks held at the Institute of Historical Research about the progress and work at Hull as a result of the AIMS project. Whilst highlighting the AIMS White Paper the bulk of the talk was about the practical steps we had taken at Hull with born-digital archives; starting with a simple survey of collections and then followed by photography of media and creating a forensic workstation (a tale told in multiple parts see - part 1, part 2 and part 3).

I sought to encourage those present to download software like Karen's Directory Printer and DROID and to have a go - using a few test files will help increase your familiarity with many of the issues associated with digital preservation.

I managed to stop in time for questions - and these included aspects relating to the fact that the issues I raised were not "new" and whether we would still be making the same case in 5 years time (I hope not) and the need for automated tools to help us cope with the sheer volume of material (an obvious need) and the associated risk of releasing material that you haven't explicitly checked because of the sheer volume of files..

A PDF version of the slides is available - the talk was also recorded and I will add a link to the podcast when it is available.