Navigational Aids for the History of Science,
Technology and the Environment (NAHSTE)
- To provide international standard descriptions of archives and manuscripts collections, relevant to the History of Science, held by the three partner institutions, and to provide additional on-line research aids.
- To make the descriptions and other aids fully accessible on the World Wide Web.
- To stimulate increased research usage of History of Science resources.
- To conserve the collections being described by the project.
- 1000 ISAD(G)2 descriptions (General International Standard Archival Description) completed, including 34 at collection level. Depth of description for each collection decided, and tools to monitor progress towards targets and use of collections in place.
- Detailed cataloguing instructions incorporating data formatting guidelines produced.
- XMetaL software customised to provide a data entry vehicle. This followed receipt of a consultantís report which advised capturing data directly into XML (extensible mark-up language), in line with the international Document Type Definition, EAD (Encoded Archival Description).
- Detailed specification of the projectís IT Delivery requirements completed in conjunction with Glasgow Universityís GASHE project, and EDINA, within Edinburgh University Computing Serviceís Data Library is developing Internet user interfaces and searching facilities.
- Dissemination of the project via web site, electronic mailing lists, journal articles, leaflets and events. Successful conference held in Edinburgh, incorporating two papers read by academic users of the collection, and impressive display of NAHSTE archival material.
- Conservation programme ahead of target. Over 75% of collections have received assessment/treatment. Conservation work has included re-packaging using archival quality materials plus specialised repair and re-binding work.
- Academic User Group assembled. AUG has provided much useful advice, is contributing the projectís on-line essay and is helping the editorial process.
Each of the project archivists had collections assigned to them. Preliminary research was undertaken concerning the appropriate level of ISAD(G)2 descriptions: collection, series or item. These were captured directly into XML using the projectís EAD and data format specifications, and the customised XMetaL data entry tool mentioned above. Four access points were specified and these were created using Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH), and National Council of Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names (NCA Rules). These were tracked using Access databases. International Standard Archival Authority Records (ISAARs), were created in addition to personal name access points in collection level descriptions. These utilise the XML DTD developed on the project and provide more detailed biographical histories of individual scientists.
Throughout the project, exemplars of original documents being catalogued were selected for digital imaging and included both illustrations and text in line with the advice of the Academic User Group. To emphasise some of the projectís jmain themes such as links between the partner institutions, one of the AUG members, Dr. John Henry, contributed an on-line essay entitled ďA Short History of Scientific and Technical Education in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Heriot-Watt UniversitiesĒ. Short summaries of related data held by the associate partners consituted another useful data component and were compiled towards the end of the project.
A detailed specification of the projectís IT Delivery requirements was completed by the end of the first year in conjunction with Glasgow Universityís GASHE project. EDINA (Edinburgh Data and Information Access), a JISC funded national data centre based at Edinburgh University Data Library within the Universityís computing service, agreed to carry out the work required. Main design motivations included speed of web access and simplicity of mangement, and the project team worked closely with Mr. Gavin Inglis of EDINA on various prototypes and end user interfaces to produce the final version. The web-based facilities developed vis NAHSTE are now being used in other similar projects at Edinburgh.
- 5000 ISAD(G)2ís (General International Standard Archival Description)
- 4500 separate access points, Ė subject terms, personal/corporate/place names
- 75 ISAAR (International Standard Archival Authority Record) biographies
- 100 exemplar images of illustrations and text drawn from the projectís collections
- Sound clips of interviews with prominent British scientists, drawn from the projectís collections
- Informed links to related data held in partner repositories and elsewhere
- Potential research uses incorporating Ďon-line essayí linking to specific collections on project web site
- Project specific DTDís (document type definitions) based on EAD (encoded archival description)
- XMetaL software customised to provide a data entry vehicle allowing direct data capture in XML (extensible mark-up language)
Collection/Series/Item level descriptions (approximately 4400) plus associated ISAAR records and (up to) 100 digitised exemplar images of documents.
Web-based search tools permitting cross-institutional searching/browsing among partnersí holdings by name, subject, place, date etc. plus linkages to additional on-line aids.
Conservation of approximately 700 linear metres original material.
Contributions to the development of electronic access methodologies, archival descriptive standards, and web-based delivery mechanisms.
- University of Edinburgh, (Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections)
- University of Glasgow, (Glasgow University Archive Services)
- Heriot-Watt University, (Heriot-Watt University Archives)
- National Archives of Scotland
- National Library of Scotland
- Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh
- Edinburgh City Archives
- Scottish Cultural Resources Access Network (SCRAN)
Arnott T Wilson
Special Collections Division
Edinburgh University Library
Edinburgh EH8 9LJ
Tel: 0131 650 6865
Fax: 0131 650 6863
Content: Gill Davenport
Last updated 2 July 2002