(Lots of!) NSW archives information now available in Research Data Australia October 25, 2013

Research Data Australia is an Internet-based discovery service designed to provide rich connections between data, projects, researchers and institutions, and promote visibility of Australian research data collections in search engines. It is designed to enable Australia’s research data to become a national strategic resource to support better, more efficient and defensible research, and improved policy input.

Image: researchdataaustralia.ands.org.au

Image: researchdataaustralia.ands.org.au

This year State Records was pleased to be part of a small team lead by the Public Record Office Victoria to work with the Australian National Data Service (ANDS) on harvesting archival data into Research Data Australia.

Often referred to as ‘humanities’ data, information about archival collections contains pointers to an incredibly rich array of government information. By including this data in RDA, researchers will now be just as likely to come across an archival series on past management of national parks, for example,  as current collections of scientific data collected in national parks.  Archival records, whether digitised or not, will gain greater exposure and use, and as more archives keep born digital records as archives these will be discoverable as research data too.

Following a period of development and testing, the project successfully delivered 17,068 metadata records harvested from PROV and 19,548 metadata records harvested from SRNSW. In State Records’ case, these records comprise descriptions of 15,759 collections (record series), 3604 groups (agencies) and 185 persons. The work to harvest this data was made immeasurably simpler for State Records by virtue of the fact that we have had an API (Application Programming Interface) to our archival control system since 2011. Read more about the API and our Open Data project here.

State Records NSW’s and the Public Record Office Victoria’s archival information can be searched and viewed at RDA here. By clicking on a collection you will see that each one includes a permanent URI to the information about the series on State Records’ website, as well as citation rules, access rights and more.

Software and documentation developed as part of the project have been published on SourceForge and are available for download here. The User guides provide details and examples of both the ICT hardware and the software installed to assist with understanding the customisation that may be required at other archives.

In addition to offering a solution for other archives, the solution is capable of being enhanced to:
•    Support other XML metadata formats (e.g. Dublin Core, EAC-CPF)
•    Permit metadata harvesting by other data services (e.g. NLA)
•    Enrich existing metadata (e.g. adding spatial references)
•    Facilitate the collection of reuse analytics (i.e. using Digital object identifiers and automated Citation metrics)
•    Improve discoverability of linked records (i.e. automated linking and search aggregation across jurisdictions by data services)

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