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OPEN ARCHIVE ? a new web based system for accessing our past
[Image: openArchivelogo4.png]
OPEN ARCHIVE ? a new web based system for accessing our past

The wealth of information gathered by local archaeological groups and societies on excavations, surveys and documentary research is one of the important sources of data for the study of archaeology in the UK. Currently, this archive of British archaeology is stored locally, within libraries and local history centres as well as with the originating group themselves. In addition, PhDs and other research can be found in locations often scattered throughout the country. The premise of Open Archive is to collect the records of the past and present and share them with everybody.
Open Archive is an accessible library of user generated reports and publications where archaeology societies, PhD research students, graveyard recording and community groups can share their discoveries with a wide audience.

The easy to use interface combines intuitive searches by period, type of project and location with a map based view showing the location of the selected documents. Each item can then be viewed as either a short description or as the complete publication. This resource creates a public portal to the records of our shared heritage that were previously only available on a few local archaeology group websites OR as paper copies in the local library. The idea is to allow this to be both interactive and open to sharing via feeds and direct data transfer.

The data entry form is modelled exactly on the Discovery and Excavation Scotland (DES) fields, and has the potential to allow direct transfer of this data to the record. (For future projects this would mean every record sent to Open Archive that is located in Scotland could be automatically be sent to the DES along with a copy of the report.) In addition, we are working on automatically sending Treasure Trove reporting, Open Archive is developing for the future and your comments are welcome.

Loading the pdf versions of the document onto Open Archive is a quick step by step process, maintaining ease of use without compromising the value of the information gathered. The more users that utilise this secure public archive, the more useful it becomes, building a written record of the past in Britain by those that know it best.

Free to register and use, we are currently in consultation to help take paper records and transform them into searchable digital formats, where the rediscovery of these publications may even re-ignite interest in the area.
Open Archive is exactly that ? a public resource, created for everyone.

You can view the current Version here
and we welcome comment
David Connolly and Steve White (Digital Past)
For really I think that the poorest he that is in England hath a life to live, as the greatest he
Thomas Rainborough 1647
Any thoughts peeps? :face-confused:
For really I think that the poorest he that is in England hath a life to live, as the greatest he
Thomas Rainborough 1647
Excellent idea! One of your very best. Would you like some of my stuff? It's building history, not archaeology.
That does it for me... Smile YES PLEASE
At the moment locational data can only be a single point

however, other general text can be anything.

Buildings do it for me too! Big Grin
For really I think that the poorest he that is in England hath a life to live, as the greatest he
Thomas Rainborough 1647
OK. May be a while.
Great idea David. Certainly use of the Scribd platform is one way forward. The big issue is going to be copyright, i feel. Having worked on an HER website project, we were keen to start putting grey lit online. However, as part of a county council we ran into massive problems over copyright. Even if units/individuals were very happy to grant copyright clearance, many reports still contain OS map extracts which would be a breach of copyright.

I am however very supportive of putting stuff out there. I know, for instance, Wessex Archaeology have seen a massive rise in access to and use of their grey lit now it's on Scribd.

I will definitely watch the progress of OA with of the most annoying things about leaving uni was loosing my Athens e-journal access...perhaps this can start to fill the gap!
Thanks Knap,

There are definitely a couple of good points in there. (and of course... thanks for the thumbs up)

WE are hoping (if we can achieve a funding backer... British Academy perhaps?) to move from the Scribd Platform to our own API - though - we already store a copy of the report as well as it being processed into SCribd.

The copyright problem is perhaps the most worrying, and amusingly, we are all now in trouble... however, there are ways round this, and to be honest ... so far the OS have failed to attempt legal action (as far as I am aware) they are perhaps only too aware that this is not a threat - but would be if they started to come down heavy. They are after all a tax payer funded organisation. and are - shall we say... liable to political will.

Even the use of OS coords is copyright .. ! can you believe it... I look to America with envy!

And like Wessex, BAJR guides and my own company reports have at last been 'seen' and read... in comparison with traditional venues of information - the figures were staggering.. and in terms of Wessex.. amazing!

top let people see what I/you mean.. and show just how powerful this is


Historic Building Recording - Guidance for Curators and Commercial Archaeological Contractors
3,343 Reads | 378 Downloads

How To Get Involved In Archaeology (BAJR Guide) after 60 days
2,216 Reads | 173 Downloads

Short Guide to Digital Photography in Archaeology
7,004 Reads | 1,180 Downloads

Survey Basics ? Laying out a Trench and Levelling
6,323 Reads | 517 Downloads


Now reports for me are quite good, given the obscure nature of my work..

Newhailes Estate Flower Garden Wall ( a heated brick wall)
3,231 Reads | 69 Downloads

Water Newton rally 2007
3,482 Reads | 114 Downloads

Big Cousland Dig 2008
732 Reads | 30 Downloads (plus 100 paper copies sold)

but look at wessex! with over 14,000 subscribers

Aircraft Crash Sites at Sea - a Scoping Study project report
24,702 Reads (downloads unknown)

Roman Durnovaria - 7 Animal bone
18,769 Reads (downloads unknown)

Pottery identification sheet
4,553 Reads |

This is no fly by night method of opening up our data...

its the future
For really I think that the poorest he that is in England hath a life to live, as the greatest he
Thomas Rainborough 1647
Open Archive - Britarch Comments

david Wrote:The recent announcement of the new 'Open Archive' service for
archaeology by the British Archaeological Jobs Resource and Digital Past
has raised a number of questions (for example, here on the Britarch
discussion list). While the Open Archive certainly has good intentions,
it raises some important points about long-term digital archiving and
sharing of information which have ramifications for everyone in the
archaeological community. In particular, whilst data-sharing
environments are potentially useful, the approach adopted in the 'Open
Archive' does raise some concerns pertaining to both its use as a form
of reporting mechanism and also the use of the term 'archive'.

Regarding a reporting mechanism, an online reporting mechanism for
archaeological events already exists for Scotland and England (and
similar arrangements are under discussion in Wales) in the form of OASIS
(Online Access to the Index of Archaeological Investigations) which has
been developed over a decade and tailored to meet the requirements of
Discovery & Excavation in Scotland (DES). Users in Scotland can include
all relevant details into one form serving the HER, NMR and DES. This
was done after careful consultation with archaeological practitioners,
national heritage agencies and the HER/SMR community. It is free and
open access, and has the added benefit that should practitioners wish to
upload grey literature then these reports are archived with the ADS and
made available via the Grey Literature Library. While there should be
nothing to stop practitioners also using the 'Open Archive' system, it
should perhaps be made clear that the OASIS system is frequently the
required method of reporting fieldwork, including to DES. It would be
useful to clarify what the mechanism of transfer is between documents
held in the 'Open Archive' and DES, or the relevant HER and NMRs around
the UK?

The second concern focuses on the 'archive' element of 'Open Archive'.
While the site has a method for delivering information to the public
over the web it is unclear in what way it actually constitutes an
archive. The Archaeology Data Service (ADS), which hosts both the Grey
Literature Library and numerous PhDs, as well as the hugely varied
outputs of archaeological projects such as databases, image collections,
CAD files and so on, follows the OAIS reference model (Open Archival
Information System, ISO 14721:2003).

ADS works closely with RCAHMS which carries out a similar function in
Scotland. These archives have to have all the necessary technical, legal
and financial systems in place to ensure data security and long-term
sustainability irrespective of commercial factors. At ADS, this is
monitored by an advisory group which represents all the various sectors
of archaeology across the UK in an open and transparent way which gives
more confidence in the long-term sustainability of their approach.

With the ADS, deposition of both grey literature reports via OASIS and
PhD theses from the UK is currently free of charge. In addition to the
use of the OAIS framework when dealing with deposited data, archives
such as the ADS hold an endowment fund and actively maintain
relationships with other professional archival systems (in particular
the UK Data Archive) to ensure long-term sustainability of the data. It
is not clear what processes and safeguards the 'Open Archive' has in
place to guarantee the long-term safety of its contents? What is the
migration strategy either on format change or when it proves necessary
to transfer documents to a system other than 'Scribd'?

Archaeological archiving works best when it is based on cooperation and
collaboration, and the groups and mechanisms to facilitate this are
broadly in place. While we are very pleased to welcome new approaches in
this field, and encourage innovation and data re-use, it would be useful
to know more about the Open Archive's long-term data storage strategy,
its future plans for inter-operability and its relationship to the
existing digital archives and data standards bodies.

Stuart Jeffrey, Catherine Hardman (Archaeology Data Service)

Dan Hull, Mike Heyworth (Council for British Archaeology)

Keith May (English Heritage)

Diana Murray (Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments
of Scotland)

Hilary Malaws (Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments
of Wales)

The reply from Digital Past is below
For really I think that the poorest he that is in England hath a life to live, as the greatest he
Thomas Rainborough 1647
Many thanks for so many bodies coming together to ask these questions.

I should be clear about three separate issues

1) This is not a British Archaeological Jobs Resource initiative.

2) There is comment about the "approach adopted in the 'Open
Archive' raising concerns" - let us be clear that data standards are
crucial, and to this end, the current structure (as remember this is a work
in progress, requiring seious input) is based exactly on the DES structure.
(if it is good enough for DES, it must be good) - More crucially, there
seems to be a misunderstanding concerning the direction. It does NOT and
HAS NOT made any claims to replacing or duplicating OASIS - that is a mainly
commercial archaeological system. This is dealing with a different
audience the local group - and is proactively engaging them.

3) The second issue is about 'archive' - We are aware of the long-term
sustainability issue and we are addressing this as we continue to develop.
To be specific, we do not view Scribd as the final solution; we are busy
designing and developing our own internal systems. In terms of
interoperability, we would welcome the adoption of web services and APIs
written to defined standards.

I sincerely hope that you see the benefit of a system that enhances, expands
and increases knowledge, and as you rightly say, "Archaeological archiving
works best when it is based on cooperation and collaboration, and the groups
and mechanisms to facilitate this are broadly in place." Our request is
that you (as a group) allow us to do just that, we are more than willing
(indeed it was our hope) that we can cooperate and collaborate with you. On
looking at another thread by Mike Heyworth we found the following lines
useful and quote them below:

Quote:"I do not believe it is divisive to have separate groups representing
different parts of our sector (IfA, CBA, ALGAO, FAME, etc) as long as we
work to a common agenda which I believe is the case."

"In particular we need to work out ways of engaging with a broader 21st
century audience."

At Digital Past, we want to enhance our record of the UK's Past, not overlap
or duplicate, but bring new opportunities to the 21st century and the
concept of sharing data in a way that suits people.

This discussion is best continued on a more formal manner - and we look
forward to hearing from the interested groups to discuss how best we can
move forward. Our contact details are below - so look forward to hearing
from you collectively or individually - we are more than happy to talk, to
meet and to assure. This is about access to material not previously
accessible as a central resource, it is about embracing new technologies and
it is about opening archives to all, and yes - sharing.

At Digital Past, we are more than happy to share, and welcome
collaboration, so look forward to your help and support to ensure that the
resulting resource meets a broad need and satisfies the exacting standards
we all hold to.

Many thanks for your interest and thank you for your questions.

Steve White
Digital Past
T: 01686 626 962

David Connolly
Digital Past
T: 01620 861643
M 0787 6528 498
For really I think that the poorest he that is in England hath a life to live, as the greatest he
Thomas Rainborough 1647
I have added a link to Open Archive from my introductory page on researching historic buildings, in the section at the end where I urge people to share their findings.

Copyright is a problem. It is one that a local development body hit when they wanted to put a report of mine online. The problem is not only caused by OS maps, but satellite/aerial shots and some historic images. It is unreasonable to demand vast reproduction fees when a report is being made available free, and particularly when the images in question are long out of copyright. But it may be necessary to remove certain images to spare you problems.

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