ARCHivER is the product of an ANDS HVC grant (May 2016-June 2017). Our goal was to prepare for open access 18,000 digitised documents from the State Library of New South Wales’s signature archival collection on Australian publisher Angus & Robertson. We orientated the project around the creation and configuration of a suitable database structure with the implementation of linked open (meta)data standards and controlled vocabularies at the collection, volume and item levels.
This core work was undertaken through the engagement of a Research Officer in Digital Humanities via the ANDS HVC grant in full, whose role included: identification and digital curation of key sources; editing and standardisation of digital research data; taxonomic classification of archival documents; and data entry and data analysis. Parallel to this was the Western Sydney University contribution in development of a graphical interface for humanistic inquiry, with a general-purpose suite of data-driven tools for examining networks of knowledge and correspondence within the 18,000 digitised documents and 70,000 metadata records. A key goal was to implement data structures and vocabularies in ways that aligned linked open data requirements with humanistic methods. Within the humanities, there remains the added complexity in any research translation project of externalising what is often a very internalised thought process. The result therefore was the careful construction and application of a workflow to standardise 70,000 metadata tags associated with these documents.
The final product ARCHivER is a tool that enables reflective humanistic practice by using metadata to think through thousands of historical documents, and which also allows all images and data to be downloaded in forms (XML, RDFa, Turtle, N-Triples) highly suitable to external digital environments exploiting linked open data concepts (as well as CSV). Like many historical sources, documentary metadata can be incomplete but ARCHivER supports scholars building an understanding of formerly print-based Australian historical materials through working with, and adding to, their metadata.
While the project has been the result of work by ARCHivER’s Research Officer in Digital Humanities (Dr Helen Bones) and ARCHivER’s primary investigator and lead developer (Dr Jason Ensor), this project would not have been possible without the support of the Western Sydney University Librarian (Michael Gonzalez), the Western Sydney University Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Research & Innovation (Professor Deborah Sweeney), the Western Sydney University School of Humanities and Communication Arts Dean (Professor Peter Hutchings), the State Library of New South Wales (Richard Neville), the Western Sydney University Research, Engagement, Development and Innovation unit (Stephen Hannan), the Western Sydney University Digital Humanities Research Group (Professor Simon Burrows, Dr Rachel Hendery, Dr Katie McDonough, Dr Laure Philip) and – crucially – the Australian National Data Service (Dr Ines Hessler, Dr Rowan Brownlee).
The core files of the Linked Archives project are open source as per requirements of the funding agreement between the Australian National Data Service, the State Library of New South Wales and Western Sydney University. As the project is still current this repository lacks an installation wrapper, example archival documents and the main database file. The installation wrapper is in development with completion expected February 2019, and the database file plus associated images will be released after the project's launch in early 2019. In the meantime, a functioning version of the project can be viewed at https://linkedarchives.com.