Archives Hub is an aggregator of content from nearly 300 UK institutions. It focusses on the needs of researchers in Higher Education (in contrast with other archival sites which focus on the needs of family historians). The main content of the hub is archival finding aids which vary in complexity from simple high level descriptions of the contents of an entire archive to complex, hierarchical records which go down to individual item level. These archival descriptions are linked records describing repositories and records describing people and organisations.
When Jisc went out to tender for a new system to replace the existing hub, the requirement was not only to provide an improved discovery interface for researchers but also to improve the workflow for the ingest, quality checking and enhancement of data supplied from a wide range of diverse systems and to allow aggregated content to be supplied onwards to international initiatives such as Archives Portal Europe.
We responded to this challenge by adopting an innovative approach to the storage of large hierarchical data structures as individual ‘chunks’ (which alleviated many of the problems encountered by the existing system) combined with close collaboration with the Archives Hub team to ensure that the workflow met their needs and led to real efficiency improvements.
Technically, this was achieved by integrating a new workflow component into the existing CIIM management application. Custom data importers were produced for the different types (EAD for archival descriptions, EAG for repositories and EAC for people and organisations). Building on our track record of successful collaboration on similar projects, Gooii worked as subcontractors to develop the end user interface based on the CIIM ElasticSearch index and Sero Consulting assisted in the user consultation process.
The beta version of the new Archives Hub is available at http://admin.archiveshub.jisc.ac.uk/. It is due to go live later this year.