Friday, 15 March 2013

The Dott project on the road!

This week, our Project Archivist Louise tells us about her participation in a conference at the National Archives, Kew:

On Thursday 7th March, LHSA’s Norman Dott case note cataloguing project took its first trip out of Edinburgh to attend the UK Archives Discovery (UKAD) Forum held at the National Archives, Kew. Together with my colleague, Clare Button, Archivist for the Towards Dolly project (cataloguing materials related to the development of animal genetics in Edinburgh), I presented a poster explaining the way in which the Centre for Research Collections has been working to open up history of science records to new researchers.

Clare and I are both funded by the Wellcome Trust, and have been using the Encoded Archival Description (EAD) standard to create catalogues that reflect both the specialist nature of the scientific archives with which we work and the needs of the different groups of researchers who use them. EAD is based on eXtensible Mark-up Language (XML), ‘tags’ that allow text to be labelled and structured for online display. For example, the use of EAD in the Dott project allows me to highlight certain sections of catalogue descriptions for online searches and hide other information from public view that identifies patients.

The poster

The UKAD Forum is a chance to hear current thinking on the different ways in which archives can reach new and current audiences through information technology, enabling them to link data on their collections with other institutions and provide better finding aids for the public. The popularity of the day proved that making archive catalogues available and accessible, promoting collections online and securing the future of digital holdings and electronic records are essential aspects of the archivist’s role in the twenty-first century. Clare and I heard presentations from those at the cutting edge of online delivery of archival material (Google Cultural Institute, Wikipedia, Europeana and the BBC’s Digital Public Space) to smaller archives building up their own online presence through the imaginative use of blogs, Facebook and Twitter. During our poster session, Clare and I answered questions related to our projects and made valuable connections with archivists around the country working with similar records and sharing similar objectives.

All in all, it was a hectic but eye-opening day, and was wonderful to be in a position to tell fellow archivists about the work that LHSA is doing to highlight modern medical case notes as research tools.

Useful Links:

Dott project page:

Towards Dolly:

UKAD Forum 2013:

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