Back in 2012 I had the opportunity to be involved in the ‘Day of Archaeology’, writing a brief post on the workflow involved in the accession, preservation and dissemination of archaeological field reports through the Archaeology Data Service’s (ADS) Grey Literature Library. Over the past couple of years the library has grown exponentially, largely thanks to continued support of OASIS amongst the archaeological community and the hard work of digital archivists at the ADS. Work on the library continues this week as my colleague, Jenny O’Brien, has been adding more reports to the library. Thanks to her work the library now boasts some 27,000 pieces of grey literature. You can read more about this important work in Jenny’s ‘Day of Archaeology’ post.
In contrast to this time two years ago, today I will be spending much of my time today accessioning those digital collections deposited through our new e-archiving system, ADS-easy. For those who have not heard about ADS-easy, it is essentially a system that allows the electronic submission of digital archives, along with associated metadata, from archaeological fieldwork and research to the ADS. As many of you will know, traditionally deposits to the ADS often involved the physical movement of files on portable hard-drives, DVDs or CDs from the depositor to the archivist; in contrast ADS-easy allows this movement electronically from the desktop. At the same time, much more than a glorified ‘Dropbox’ style system, ADS-easy allows users to create both project and file level metadata for these archives electronically through on-line forms, or through a downloadable template. As many of you will have already seen, last month we released our first submission through ADS-easy, an archive from work at the Former NXP Works in Southampton, Hampshire deposited by Oxford Archaeology (South).
While much of the publicity surrounding ADS-easy has been devoted to the outward facing impacts of the system, these changes have also had a significant impact on my work and that of the other digital archivists at the ADS. Most significantly the new system allows files to be transferred digitally from the desktop of depositor, through ADS-easy, to our file-servers here at the ADS; a process that now requires minimal input from me. At the same time, whereas as traditionally a significant part of my work involved the manual input of project metadata for digital collections, ADS-easy allows this information to be transferred directly from source into our collections management system. And not to forget that all important file level metadata, something I continually harp on about and which is essential to the preservation of digital objects, which can be brought directly from ADS-easy and stored within our databases. Of course these changes have resulted in the development of new workflows and internal systems to facilitate the transfer of data and metadata, something that I have been working on with the technical ‘dynamic duo’, Paul Young and Lei Xia. These new developments have not replaced the good work being carried out by me and the other digital archivists, but has certainly made the accessioning process of data a whole lot easier, and it is hoped more sustainable. Anyway I’d better get back to accessioning that data, otherwise there will be no more archives to release.