DAI IANUS visits the ADS!

ADS was pleased to recently be the host to three Data Curators from a project called IANUS  as part of the ARIADNE project.  ADS spent two weeks immersing Martina, Anne and Philip in the day-to-day duties of a fully established repository. Here is what they had to say about their visit.

DAI IANUS visits the ADS!
By Martina Trognitz, Anne Sieverling & Philipp Gerth

From the 23rd of November until 4th of December, York had three more German inhabitants: us (Anne, Martina and Philipp)! We came all the way from Berlin to learn from the ADS.

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In Berlin we work at the German Archaeological Institute (DAI) in a project called IANUS. It is funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) and a first three year phase is now being followed by a second, which just started in March 2015. The aim of the project is to build up a digital archive for archaeology and related sciences in Germany.

The first phase of IANUS was wholly dedicated to the theoretical background of digital archives: we evaluated existing archives (yes, the ADS as well), learned about persistent identifiers, got ourselves acquainted with the OAIS model of SIPs, AIPs and DIPs, collected and assessed test data, and even had a look at possible useful software systems. But we still lacked something essential to thoroughly build a digital archive: actual practical archiving of digital data.

This is where the ADS comes into play. The staff at the ADS can look back on almost 20 years of archiving digital archaeological data. What better place is there to learn about how it is actually done?

The first impression we got from York was, well, impressive. On our way to the ADS we always could walk on the medieval city walls which allow for a good overview of York’s skyline. The ADS is situated in the time-honoured building of King’s Manor where we were warmly welcomed by the staff.

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After two weeks of hard work we finally had time to get acquainted with the mysterious calf in front of the ADS offices

The first day kept us all busy with presentations about all the different parts that constitute the ADS: a general overview, data deposit and preservation, data procedures, dissemination, and ADS-Easy. Already on the first day we did what would be our main activity in the next two weeks. We asked a lot of questions and scribbled down every bit of information we could get.

We were fully immersed into the day-to-day duties of the ADS and even attended meetings where tasks for preservation and organizational details were discussed. We also got involved into the Department of Archaeology by attending talks, drinks, and even joining in trips to the pub.

For the practical part each of us got an actual dataset from ADS-Easy that we archived. From this we learned, that not everything can be done by a computer, because some parts have to be done by human beings to guarantee completeness, integrity, and intelligibility of data. Each dataset was then reviewed by another member of the preservation team to make sure we did everything right (this is done with every dataset that gets archived in the ADS) and then was released into the World Wide Web.

By end of the first week our list of questions did not seem to end and thus we had plenty to ask in the second week, where everybody still answered our questions patiently and at full length. This all helped us in understanding what the requirements for an archiving system are and what we can tell our software developers to develop.

Nonetheless we had a bit of spare time to discover York and its old buildings and new museums. Especially the Viking ride in Jorvik was a memorable experience.

We are grateful for the excellent and extensive training from all the staff members! We will stay in touch.

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This is how people at the ADS think of data.