Felix Schäfer from IANUS visits ADS

Over the past two weeks the ADS has been extremely pleased to have hosted Felix Schäfer from IANUS for a training placement as part of the ARIADNE project. IANUS is a project to establish a National Research Data Centre for Archaeology and Ancient History in Germany. One of the reasons for Felix’s visit to ADS is to provide IANUS with a behind-the-scenes insight into the workings of a well-established and successful digital repository. Here is what Felix had to say about his time at ADS.

 

For two weeks I had the wonderful chance to stay and work at King’s Manor in York and look behind the scenes of the Archaeology Data Service. As IANUS is still a relative young project to build up a similar discipline specific  research data centre for the German archaeological and historical community, IANUS is very happy to see other successful institutions and learn from their experiences (and failures). And what better place to go than the ADS and look over the shoulders of the staff members, asking them numerous questions, inspecting their present and future systems, discussing issues about standards and guidelines and even processing some of my own German-type project collections according to the ADS’s workflows and checklists. All this has proven to be very inspiring and informative for me and I hope I can remember most of the insights when I’m back in Germany.


Hopefully, the learning and teaching from ADS will have twofold benefits. The first benefit is definitely gained from the information provide by ADS, e.g. what workflow steps are necessary to create AIPs (Archive Information Packages) and DIPs (Dissemination Information Packages) from SIPs (Submission Information Packages), which will speed up the construction of IANUS which still is in its conceptual planning phase and strives to offer “real” services to users as soon as possible. The second benefit is a long-term goal to apply the same or similar criteria for documentation, e.g. the type of metadata required for different file types, as the ADS, which will ease the international exchange of data across different international repositories as ADS has already successfully undertaken through the TAG project with tDAR.

So what did I actually do during my hours sitting within the medieval walls of King’s Manor? Well, in the first week I had several talks with different ADS staff members about different aspects of ADS. I got introduced to the internal Collections Management System, got explanations about the charging and licence policies, got an overview on all the social media channels being feed with information, and much more. At the end I had gained enough knowledge to process a small dataset from an archaeozoological project in Jordania, conducted by the German Archaeological Institute in Berlin. So, IANUS now has our very  first archive compliant collection, which in theory could go online if the data owners wished it to do so …

In my second week my focus was more on the Guides to Good Practice. One reason for this is that IANUS is now preparing similar recommendations for the German community, which we aim to published online on the IANUS  homepage in a first version by the end of this year. Already at the time of writing this IANUS has heavily profited from the enormous efforts ADS has put into the digital preservation field over the last years. Maybe there will be some passages at the end where the German “IT-Empfehlungen” can complement the English “G2GP”, who knows?

Another motivation for my visit to ADS was to write a case study about a specific aspect, namely the selection and retention of files in big data collections, and exemplify the documentation of files which are part of a longer digital process as it is in the case of laser-scanning or photogrammetry. For this purpose, I decided to use the digital documentation of excavation trenches in Pergamon/Turkey, a long-term project of the Istanbul department of the German Archaeological Institute. I just need to write this up during my last day here at King’s Manor and hopefully it will appear in the near future somewhere in the wonderful digital world of the ADS.

To end it just remains to say a very big thank you to Julian Richards who made my training placement possible and to all the members of the ADS staff who always had more than open ears and minds for my concerns, questions and discussions. The mental openness and willingness to share ideas and insights is impressive. I have enjoyed and profited enormously from my stay here and it might well be the case that it was not the last visit of a crew member of IANUS !

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