APEx@CENDARI Summer School

As part of the CENDARI Summer School, Susanne Waidmann of the Bundesarchiv (Federal Archives of Germany) presented the Archives Portal Europe on 22 July 2014 to students and researchers from across Europe and North America, followed by an evaluative talk with the participants about possible innovations.

Half of the participants had already used the portal for their private research whilst the others were not so familiar with it. Two possible new features were mentioned, concerning in particular, the aspect of multilingualism on the one hand and improving the transparency of the amount of content accessible via the portal on the other:

  • Due to the multinational character of the project, the search results are often displayed in different languages. Therefore the participants have asked for a feature which would automatically translate important keywords when using them for searching.
  • Furthermore, it was proposed to include a visualisation both of the quantity of archives per participating country and the total quantity of content accessible per archival institution. Using this visualisation, visitors to the webpage could inform themselves about the progress of the project at anytime, eg using a pie chart which is filled in according to the progress made by participating countries in providing their material. Those charts, together with features such as a mouseover, could also give a detailed account of the project’s advance in general, improving the transparency of what is already available on the portal and what could be expected in the future.

In general, the participants liked that the focus of the project seems not to be on digitised material but rather on the descriptive information about the material. However, it was recognised that different descriptive methods are used by different archives, especially in terms of the level of detail provided. The participants would like to see an improvement in harmonising the archives in this respect and they stressed the importance of providing detailed data for each object.

Beyond that, it was suggested that the portal be connected with already existing online platforms for research such as researchgate.net. A possibility for users to add information to archival material was also requested; the participants stated that this could be another useful feature for the portal, even if user-generated content might not always be 100% correct.

The APEx project team would like to thank all participants for this creative and inspiring think pool!

About the Author

Silke Jagodzinski

Silke Jagodzinski, Diploma in Archival Science and Master in History and Cultural Science. Silke worked five years as member of a digital history project and after that as traditional archivist. She became digital archivist and got advanced training in digital technology related to Information Science. Before Silke started to work for the APEx project at the Federal Archives of Germany in 2012, she gathered experiences with several XML technologies and archival standards in a company for data conversion. Within the APEx project, Silke is involved in most of the Work Packages and has a focus on archival standards and metadata tasks.

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