Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Second Archivists' Focus Group

A second archivists' focus group was convened on Wednesday 27th July. In attendance were representatives of Senate House Library, Wandsworth Heritage Services, London School of Economics, ULCC, King's College London, London Metropolitan Archives, the Institute of Education and the National Archives.

The group reviewed progress since the last meeting and viewed a demo of the new back end editing area of AIM25. The back end area allows individual, several or all ISAD(G) fields in collection level descriptions to be analysed against the existing AIM25 version of UKAT, a fuzzy match option against UKAT to identify synonyms and against OpenCalais using the OpenCalais service. These returns are listed alphabetically alongside the record in collapsable lists and these entities also highlighted in the text using a colour-coding formula to distinguish subject, place name, personal name and corporate names, and triples where those were identified. Analysis normally takes a matter of seconds though timing-out can occur with longer records.

A mouse roll-over feature has been inserted for each term in the text, allowing users to identify the particular attribute of the term in a tick box drop down menu, using a connect to one or more external services including Geonames (is 'London' the capital of the UK, a place in Canada, an author or part of a corporate name?). Triples can also be interrogated in roll-overs in order that the editing archivist might validate or clarify these entities. These choices can be saved and then exported. The enhanced content will be expressed in a new front-end delivery for the test records that demonstrate linking with external services, in order to enhance the user experience by pulling together reliable external information on a place, name, subject etc relevant to that collection.

The debate centred on how the editing process can be speeded up - for example by 'signing-off' the capital-of-the-UK version of London for all examples of 'London' across all ISAD(G) fields after review of the first instance ('treat all subsequent examples of 'London' in this record as the capital'). Linking with the NRA is desirable to identify authority terms set out in NCA format. Linking with Library of Congress was raised as an important deliverable in order to maximise the opportunity for synergy between archive and library descriptions, particularly in local authority record offices.

The question of updating UKAT in an ongoing fashion was raised - maintaining an RDF version of AIM25 UKAT must require minimum ongoing effort given constrained budgets and workloads. Analysis reveals the limitations of the existing thesaurus but also the possibility and desirability for external services like OpenCalais to be enhanced by input from ALM thesauri and vocabularies. This requires a conversation between JISC or key UK institutions and OpenCalais and similar services.

Next steps are to improve and tidy the editing area (for example by changing colour coding), plugging this into the front-end for test records and exploring NRA/ARCHON collaboration.

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