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Cooperation Statement between the Archaeology Data Service and the MDA (now Collections Trust)

March 1999

The newly-relaunched MDA (formerly the Museums Documentation Association) is dedicated to supporting the information management needs of museums, galleries and heritage organisations as they face the challenges posed by information and communication technologies. MDA actively ensures that museums and heritage bodies are equipped to harness information and communications technology to realise their information assets; to fulfill their educational remit in terms of creating knowledge from information; and to demonstrate accountability for their collections. Where necessary, mda supports this work by collaborating with relevant organisations to develop appropriate standards, resources and guides to best practice.

The aim of the ADS (Archaeology Data Service) is to collect, describe, catalogue, preserve, and provide user support for digital resources that are created as a product of archaeological research. The ADS also has a responsibility for promoting standards and guidelines for best practice in the creation, description, preservation and use of digital information. Archaeology is in a special position in that much of the creation of its data results from destruction of primary evidence, making longterm access to data critical in order to test, assess, and subsequently reanalyse and reinterpret both data and the hypotheses arising from them. Over the years, archaeologists have amassed a vast collection of fieldwork data archives, a significant proportion of which remain unpublished and access to data, even those which are published, is often difficult.

Subject to the resources available on each side, ADS and MDA have identified areas of cooperation to be:

  • promoting awareness and use of standards.
  • standards development and integration.
  • promoting good digital archiving practices.
  • communication about relevant initiatives in which each organisation is involved.
  • cooperation to facilitate museum access to digital archives.

ADS looks to the MDA for:

  • expertise in museum information management and the information and communication technology needs of museums.
  • expertise in documentation and terminology standards.
  • expertise in training and user support.
  • promoting awareness of, and uses for, metadata as a cataloguing tool for signposting distributed collections.

MDA looks to the ADS for:

  • promoting access to and reuse of digital archaeological information.
  • promoting and coordinating distributed archaeological archives.
  • developing and distributing basic catalogues of archaeological information by site type, period, etc.
  • independent assessment of user needs with respect to digital data, digital collection policies, and digital cataloguing.
  • developing protocols for digital archiving and cataloguing.