AIM25 - Archives in London and the M25 area

Objectives and remit

AIM25 (Archives in London and the M25 area) commenced in January 2000 and is supported by two rounds of funding from the Research Support Libraries Programme. The principal objective of AIM25 is to prove a single point of networked access to descriptions of the archives of AIM25 consortial partners (listed below). These comprise more than fifty institutions, consisting of the principal colleges and schools of the University of London, other universities and Higher Education institutes in the area, and some of the most important royal colleges and societies of medicine and science based in London.

The institutional records of the partner organisations, traditionally a neglected historical resource, have a local, metropolitan, national, colonial and international perspective. They may be used for a vast array of different research topics, ranging from biography to studies of social mobility, professionalisation and gender as well as for the history of individual disciplines. Deposited collections held by our partners represent some of the premier groupings of archival material in the country relating to anthropology, politics, law, economics, social and cultural history, education (from primary to tertiary levels), languages and literature, religion, missionary studies, military history and the history of science and medicine.

AIM25 hopes to encourage greater awareness and cross disciplinary use of these archival collections, to facilitate research planning and access for users of archives in the project area, and to enhance understanding of the broad social, demographic and historical significance of higher education in the nation’s capital city and environs.

Methodology

The project is directed by Patricia Methven, Director of Archive Services at King’s College London. A central team of peripatetic archivists, compile descriptions for the HE partners, led by Robert Baxter, the Project Coordinator who also provides editorial support for descriptions submitted by the ‘external’ or non HE partners. All team members are professional archivists. The project team and partners prepare descriptions in a format known as the General International Standard Archival Description (usually known as ISAD(G)). Smaller archive collections are usually covered by a single description; for larger collections (particularly in the case of institutional records), a description is produced for each discrete sub-collection.

Technical architecture

Frances Blomeley and colleagues at the University of London Computer Centre have developed the AIM25 website, which uses a MySQL relational database. The website allows researchers to browse ISAD(G) descriptions by repository and to conduct searches using two types of text search engine or the indexes of personal, corporate and place names and a subject thesaurus based on the UNESCO Thesaurus.

Interoperability has been achieved with the National Register of Archives. AIM25 is compliant with Z39.50 and with the OAI (Open Archives Initiative). Work is currently being done to achieve cross-searching of AIM25 and InforM25 (the online search facility of the M25 Consortium of HE libraries). Technical development has also been undertaken to ensure compatibility with the UKOLN Collection Description Format and with EAD (Encoded Archival Description).

Progress, development and achievements to date

Researchers can view complete or significant coverage of archival holdings for, amongst others, the Courtauld Institute, Imperial College, the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, King’s College London, the London School of Economics, Royal Holloway, the Royal Institution, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, the School of Oriental and African Studies, University College London, the University of London Library and the Wellcome Library. Further work will be undertaken on indexing descriptions, with improvement of the subject thesaurus by incorporating terms from other relevant thesauri. The web interface has recently undergone a user evaluation through a detailed questionnaire, and a number of refinements have been made. A more detailed evaluation of AIM25’s technical architecture and webs interface will be made towards the end of the project in mid 2002. AIM25 Data is structured to be platform independent and is expected to map to any forthcoming development of the National Archives Network.

Researchers can now view complete or significant coverage of archival holdings for many of our partners. Researchers are also able to access AIM25 descriptions from the National Register of Archives. Further work has been undertaken on indexing descriptions, with improvement of the subject thesaurus by incorporating terms from other relevant thesauri. The web interface has recently undergone a major user-evaluation, funded and published by Resource (the Council for Museums, Archives and Libraries) in conjunction with other strands of the National Archives Network. AIM25 may now provide the model for a much larger database of collection descriptions for repositories across the London area.

Contact Details

Robert Baxter
AIM25 Project Coordinator
College Archives
King’s College London
Strand, London WC2R 2LS

Tel: 020 7848 2011
E-mail: robert.baxter@kcl.ac.uk

Project website

www.aim25.ac.uk

Partners

Association of Anaesthetists

Birkbeck College

British Library of Political and Economic Science at London School of Economics

Brunel University

City University

Courtauld Institute of Art

Goldsmiths College

Imperial College

Institute of Advanced Legal Studies

Institute of Classical Studies

Institute of Commonwealth Studies

Institute of Education

Institute of Germanic Studies

Institute of Latin American Studies

King’s College London

Kingston University

London Business School

London Guildhall University

London Institute

London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

Middlesex University

Queen Mary & Westfield College

Royal College of Art

Royal College of General Practitioners

Royal College of Music

Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists

Royal College of Physicians

Royal College of Surgeons of England

Royal Free Hospital

Royal Geographical Society

Royal Holloway, University of London

Royal Institution of Great Britain

Royal London Hospital

Royal Society

Royal Society of Arts

Royal Statistical Society

St George’s Hospital Medical School

St Bartholomew’s Hospital

School of Oriental and African Studies

School of Slavonic and East European Studies

South Bank University

University College London

University of East London

University of Greenwich

University of London (Library - Senate House)

University of North London

University of Surrey

University of Westminster

Wellcome Library


Content: Gill Davenport
Last updated 2 July 2002