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Interoperability Without Effort

Presentation on the distributed Archives Hub given at the International Standards for Digital Archives conference in Berlin, 24 April 2007

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Interoperability Without Effort

  1. 1. Interoperability without effort: the development of the distributed Archives Hub Amanda Hill University of Manchester, UK too much
  2. 2. What do we want from a union catalogue of finding aids?
  3. 3. Sustainable Owned by the community Comprehensive Ubiquitous
  4. 4. Archives Hub <ul><li>Developing since 1999: a union catalogue for archives held in universities, colleges and other organisations throughout the UK </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Funded by the JISC </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Now holds c.20,000 finding aids from 150 institutions </li></ul><ul><li>Distributing the data was part of the plan from the early stages of the service </li></ul>
  5. 5. Frustrated Happy Graph inspired by Jessica Hagy
  6. 6. Testing Feedback Development
  7. 7. Cheshire Development Team, University of Liverpool Archives Hub service team, Manchester and early adopters at universities in Scotland and England Direct from testers and more formally through Spokes Users and Developers group and Contributors’ Forum Testing Feedback Development Cheshire for Archives 3.2
  8. 8. Quick guided tour
  9. 9. Spoke home page
  10. 10. Results display
  11. 11. Collection-level record
  12. 12. Full multi-level finding aid
  13. 13. Search term ‘photograph’
  14. 14. Administration interface
  15. 15. Managing EAD files
  16. 16. Overview of activity
  17. 17. Technical details <ul><li>Runs on a Linux (Red Hat or Fedora) server </li></ul><ul><li>Cheshire3 information retrieval software </li></ul><ul><li>Cheshire for Archives EAD-specific software </li></ul>All open source
  18. 18. Installation <ul><li>Takes around one hour to install </li></ul><ul><li>Free to download ( </li></ul><ul><li>Documentation and support from Archives Hub website and Spokes mailing list </li></ul>
  19. 19. Cheshire for Archives <ul><li>Provides Web, Z39.50 and SRU interfaces to archival descriptions </li></ul><ul><li>Highly customisable: XHTML display controlled by XSLT and CSS </li></ul><ul><li>Search options make full use of EAD’s descriptive markup </li></ul>
  20. 20. Issues <ul><li>Time: software development is a time-consuming business </li></ul><ul><li>Evolving standards: Z39.50 being succeeded by SRU has entailed additional work </li></ul><ul><li>Requirements: institutions’ needs and preferences vary considerably - important to build flexibility into the software </li></ul><ul><li>Communication: importance of keeping a wide user community up to date with developments and any problems </li></ul>
  21. 21. Benefits for Archives Hub community <ul><li>Software gives control of data back to the repositories </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Makes it more likely that they will add new descriptions and expand upon existing ones </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Built-in interoperability means that data can be accessed by a wide range of services, from search engines to metasearch applications </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Including the Archives Hub! </li></ul></ul>
  22. 22. Sun Mill Company
  23. 23. John Rylands’ Spoke
  24. 24. The Archives Hub becomes… <ul><li>More sustainable </li></ul><ul><li>Community-owned </li></ul><ul><li>Increasingly comprehensive </li></ul><ul><li>Available to users wherever they are </li></ul>