Jo and I recently went to Edinburgh to run a workshop about the redevelopment of the OASIS form and find out the sort of things we would have to take into account to accommodate our users ‘north of the border’. We were really pleased with the outcomes of the day and the level of engagement from those who came, so thank you to both the Royal Commission for hosting the day and all those who attended for making it such a worthwhile event.
We bit the bullet and asked attendees what they most loved, and hated, about OASIS… and despite our worst fears we were encouraged by the response. Most people were very supportive of the concept behind OASIS, that of record once and use many times, and they liked the fact that the system provides easy access to the relevant data set. They also appreciated the easy access to the Grey Literature that the system afforded in addition to the fact that from the system could be derived a basic HER or Canmore record.
On the minus side of the equation, most of the comments which came under the ‘could do better’ category and seemed to focus on the function, look and feel of the form itself, which, we have known for some time, is clunky at best. Importantly though, we also received several comments that their was a perception of an extra burden imposed on hard pressed staff by the use of the form and some frustration expressed that, where it was a requirement, there was no enforcement of its use.
We also had a productive session on the work flow and the scope of the form. We came away from the workshop thinking that we need something much more sophisticated; the general consensus of the workshop attendees was that it would be good to add in the museums sector into the form to record and ‘track’ the deposition of archives. In England this would be a little less of a challenge as we do not have the Finds Allocation Panel; but while we will obviously have to consult them closely, we don’t feel this is an insurmountable problem.
The other main concern, which has been highlighted in OASIS Board meetings with some regularity, is about communication and promotion of the form in the sector… we know that, despite our best efforts, this has always been an issue… Answers on a postcard please!