23 April 2013: the Archives Portal Europe@HOPE in Rome (IT)

The scientific coordinator of APEx, Angelika Menne-Haritz, was invited to give a key note speech at the Closing Event of the HOPE (Heritage of People’s Europe) project in Rome (IT) on 23 April 2013. Further speakers were Gabriella Ivacs (Open Society Archives, Hungary), Armin Straube (NESTOR, Germany) and Enrico Natale (Infoclio, Switzerland). The meeting was chaired by Henk Wals, HOPE Project Coordinator (The Netherlands) and Andrew Lee, IALHI Foundation (USA).

Angelika Menne-Haritz examined the Chances and Risks for Users of Archives in the Digital World reasoning for the follwoing:

  1. to thoroughly focus on enhancing and improving the user experience which results from the immediate interaction with the user interface
  2. before reflecting on the data model needed for the purposes identified.  

As the digital world bears a high feasability of insecurity, archives depend on the trust of their users in the information they provide. However, obsolescence and fluidity is built through IT technology and is necessary for routine operations and constant data development. Yet it endangers the stability of rather static information like archival descriptions.

A possible solution suggested was to create and offer more anchors for plausibility checking by the users. This would include several features of the Archives Portal Europe which A. Menne-Haritz explained, like the use of structured displays, the possibility to select parts of a whole before a search instead of only being able to refine the search results in retrospect and the use of XML files, like EAD, for sharing complete data files of finding aids including their own metadata and for the original order to remain stable. This also includes the linking of finding aids to holding guides which further give an overview on fonds that are not yet described in online finding aids. This way a encompassing and comprehensive search result can be offered instead of only displaying single search results.

In conclusion A. Menne-Haritz advocated for any operation done with the data to remain transparent and recommended to think about more productive features to support users in evaluating the information provided by the archives at their own.

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