The ADS is an accredited digital repository and data that’s deposited with us is available open access via our archives or library but what actually happens to the data?
First off, it depends on how the data is deposited with us and what the end state of the data will be but it also depends on what kind of data has been deposited.
Each deposit method has varying amounts of manual checks done to the data by archivists with large deposits requiring the most checks and OASIS requiring the least.
For reports that have been deposited via OASIS, minimal additional checks are done by archivists into the contents of the reports as the reports themselves are checked via OASIS both programmatically and through an approval process. Similarly, ADS-easy has a number of checks built into the system but it then becomes the archivist’s job to check the actual data submitted. Large datasets on the other hand require nearly all checks to be completed by an archivist.
At the best of times starting a new job can be a nerve-racking experience. So starting a new job during a pandemic should therefore be worse, right? However, from the moment I was interviewed virtually for the position of User Support Assistant at the Archaeology Data Service (ADS), I felt at ease and welcome. It has been a long time since I’ve interviewed for any job role having been in my previous role for ten years, and I have never interviewed virtually so it was a surreal process all round. However, there was nothing to worry about as before I knew it, I was offered a position as User Support Assistant here at the ADS.
I must admit, starting my new role in a pandemic has been strange as I have had to meet the ADS team, HR and other University members of staff virtually. Although during my first few weeks I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to meet some members of the team in the sunshine outside Kings Manor and my fellow new starters on campus for a coffee which proved that they do exist beyond a screen! I needn’t have been worried though as despite all of my induction and subsequent training sessions being online it hasn’t made my inclusion in the team or the effectiveness of the training received any less. Everyone has been so friendly, approachable and supportive.
If there is one thing that I really enjoy, it’s exploring data spatially. I really enjoy being able to look at a map and see where clusters are and see if I can find trends or even if there is anything near me. To me, this has been one of the main things that I’ve felt that the ADS is missing on its website. There is such a wealth of spatial information in our database that it only makes sense that we should have a really good map, right?
Well, eventually we will, as soon as I build it.
So what is the plan? I, Teagan, digital archives officer and map enthusiast, will be working towards making a searchable map interface that will work for the ADS Library and maybe more someday, but baby steps. This post will work as kind of a dev library to let everyone know what we’ve (I’ve) been doing towards making this map a reality.
I started working as a Digital Archives Assistant with the Archaeology Data Service in August 2021. Since completing Undergraduate and Postgraduate studies in 2016, I’ve been working in the heritage sector within different collections management, conservation, education and visitor experience roles. I was keen to find a new position where I could continue working with heritage resources whilst building brand new skills and the Digital Archives Assistant role has definitely allowed me to do this.
A big part of my work with ADS involves accessioning, processing and disseminating digital archive collections so that they can be publically accessible on our website. In my first month I’ve received training sessions from colleagues in the team on how to undertake each step in this process. I also completed an online course with the Digital Preservation Coalition to strengthen my understanding of digital preservation and access. Whilst I’ve worked with archives and collections management before in previous roles using internal systems and databases, much of the digital archives process we use of ADS was completely new to me when I started. It was really useful to gain a greater understanding from these training sessions before I started working on my first archive.
I was assigned a collection from Historic Building Recording undertaken on a Grade II Listed barn at Hall Barns Farm, Stonyhurst as my first ADS-easy archive. Photography of the interior and exterior of the building and an associated report were produced to fulfil a condition of Listed Building Consent for proposed repair work, and the archive was then deposited to ADS.
Hello! I’m Evelyn, and I started my role as a Digital Archives Assistant for the Archaeology Data Service at the beginning of August.
Having previously worked as an archive assistant for a commercial archaeology unit, I was involved in compiling and preparing digital data for deposition with museums and repositories including the ADS. I thought I was fairly well versed with the world of digital archiving, but in my short few weeks here I’ve found that digital preservation is a bit like an iceberg – there’s so much more beneath the surface than I initially thought! In my first week or so I found the AIPs, DOIs, CMS, SQL, redsquids and all the other weird and wonderful terms relating to digital data processes a little daunting. But sure enough, as soon as I began to tackle my very first ADS-easy archive and began my journey as part of the wider digital preservation mission, everything started to fall into place.
My tasks so far have been delightfully varied and have included archiving small ADS-easy data sets, promoting new releases on social media, ADS Library cleaning, updating archive image captions, taking part in CATS (Curatorial and Technical Staff) Week, and searching the collections for notable archives from the last year to feature in our annual report as ‘highlights’. I’ve really enjoyed being able to develop my IT skills, which admittedly I was a little worried I didn’t have enough of, but I’ve learnt so much in such a short period of time I am just so eager to see what other new skills I develop. In the next six months or so I’m looking forward to learning more about GIS, vector graphics and 3D object collections, and trying my hand at HTML coding. The role of a DAA sounds pretty technical, but as part of the archiving process I have been able to explore some truly fascinating collections, such as building recordings, monument surveys and assemblages of material culture – all from the comfort of my home computer, which really is the beauty of digital archives!
Throughout the month of May, the ADS has been investigating and debunking some of the myths and misconceptions that surround archives, digital preservation and the Archaeology Data Service.
You may have seen us using the Twitter hashtag #MythBustingMay to highlight some of these common misunderstandings, signpost useful resources and evoke the occasional PDF-related public outcry. The project has been well received and we hope has provided a useful insight into digital preservation best practice and the services the ADS provides.
As the month draws to a close and we hang up our deer-stalkers, we’ve decided to free ourselves of the shackles of 140 characters and compile a blog to discuss some of the key issues and ideas the project has highlighted.
It’s been six weeks since I started working at the Archaeology Data Service and went down the rabbit hole and into a world of checksums, AIPs, OMS, CMS and DROIDs. I knew fairly little about digital preservation before starting, so had no real idea of what I might be letting myself in for. Alongside trying to keep abreast of the plethora of acronyms, I’ve been involved in some interesting and varied projects so far and I’m very grateful for how welcoming the ADS team has been.
Following a BA in archaeology at the University of Durham, I moved to London to study the archaeology of Egypt and the Near East at UCL, with a focus on GIS and computational methods in archaeology. I developed an interest in archives and collections documentation during a placement at a museum during my master’s degree. Admittedly, I’d anticipated taking a more traditional route of working with material objects and I knew quite little about digital collections. Joining the ADS is my first foray into digital preservation and I’m excited to be learning about such an interesting subject and working with archaeological data. I’m especially looking forward to developing my technical skills; and of course still being able to have fun with GIS from time to time.