What is ASAP?
To improve access to Australia's scientific, technological and medical heritage by helping to preserve records and artifacts and communicating the existence of this heritage to a wide audience.
Identification and Preservation
ASAP aims to play an active role in the identification of records and artifacts of historical value that add to our understanding of the history of Australian science, technology and medicine. ASAP is proactive in the identification of valuable materials and in acting to prevent their loss.
ASAP provides professional archival, historical and records management services, with the aim of helping to manage and document those records significant to our scientific, technological and medical heritage, for both individual clients and the wider community.
ASAP communicates the significance of Australia's scientific, medical and technological heritage to both the general and research communities, and aims to present the history of Australian science to an international audience. ASAP also promotes the importance of sound records management and archival practice to scientists and technologists to further their understanding of the importance of their own records and heritage.
ASAP works to encourage cooperative links between heritage institutions with the aim of fostering understanding, interaction and the development of shared goals. We also seek to develop international relationships with related bodies in order to ensure that our work meshes with similar work being performed overseas, and to assist the professional development of our staff.
A Brief History
The Australian Science Archives Project (ASAP) was established in 1985 at the Department of History and Philosophy of Science, The University of Melbourne. ASAP established a Canberra office in 1993 to enable it to fulfil its national mission.
ASAP is an organisation that aims to provide access to Australia's
scientific, technological and medical heritage. It has links
with Australia's major scientific and cultural institutions including
the National Library of Australia, Australian Archives, the Australian Academy of Science and the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering.
ASAP's products and services are designed to meet the specific
needs of its individual and corporate clients, within the framework
of its national cultural responsibilities. As a professional archival body, ASAP uses leading-edge database and computer technologies to ensure that our products are efficient and effective and match
current archival and business needs.
ASAP makes information about Australia's scientific heritage
widely available and acts as a national resource centre. Our
Internet site (ASAPWeb) provides a variety of resources relating to the history of science, technology and medicine. ASAP promotes the use of the World Wide Web within the archival and heritage communities and offers guidance and support to related organisations seeking to develop their own online resources.
Safeguarding Our Scientific Memory
What is scientific memory? What is corporate memory? What is cultural
memory? What are the archives of science?
ASAP believes that information about the people, context and
history behind scientific achievement is vitally important. Without
this knowledge, it is impossible to accurately trace the development
of scientific ideas, changes in practice, and institutional structures
and organisation. Unfortunately, the survival of such knowledge
cannot be assumed, and its loss may have an enormous impact on
future scientific endeavour, along with broader cultural, legal
and financial ramifications. The preservation of memory has to
be tackled at all levels of society, from the individual, family,
corporate, and government, to the broad national and international
ASAP is proactive in the identification and preservation of records
and artifacts important to Australian scientific, technological
and medical heritage and undertakes archival and historical work
on the records of individual scientists and scientific, technical
and medical societies.
ASAP communicates the significance of this heritage to both the
general and research communities, and aims to present the history
of Australian science to an international audience. However,
awareness of preservation issues needs to be instigated at the
time of records-creation so ASAP also promotes the importance
of sound records management and archival practice to scientists
and technologists. This in turn helps to further their understanding
of the importance of their own records, heritage and contributions
ASAP offers professional advice and project management across
the full spectrum of archives, records management and information
services. ASAP services include project planning and management,
surveying, backlog processing, appraisal and scheduling, establishment
of in-house archives and records programs, imaging of records,
provision of software, and on-going advice and support for clients.
These services are based on the ASAP Archives and Records Program
model (ARP) and the ASAP Archival Data-management System (ADS).
The ARP provides the conceptual and strategic framework that
enables the systematic documentation of records. The ADS, a combination
of methods and database software, provides the tools to implement
an Archives and Records Program. This flexible methodology can
be applied equally well to detailed descriptions of records of
individuals or societies through to the management of records
holdings within complex environments.
ASAP has successfully completed projects for archival repositories,
scientific institutions, a variety of heritage organisations,
families and individuals as well as some of the largest single
archives and records projects ever attempted in Australia for
the power and pharmaceutical industries.
ASAP is constantly looking at new ways to provide imaginative,
informative and accessible resources for the history of Australian
science, technology and medicine. The Internet, through ASAPWeb,
enables these resources to reach both local and international
audiences, and ASAPWeb has become one of the principal
sites in the world for information on the history of science,
technology and medicine.
ASAP's central WWW resource is Bright Sparcs which is based
on the Register of the Archives of Science in Australia. Constantly
growing, Bright Sparcs incorporates biographical and bibliographical
details about Australian scientists with links to related articles
and images. The WWW Virtual Library for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine provides hundreds of links to information resources in these fields, while the Directory of Archives in Australia provides access to information on over 400 archival
repositories around Australia.
ASAPWeb also provides a virtual home for a number of Australian scientific, technical and medical societies, including the Association of Science Communicators, the Australasian Association for the History & Philosophy of Science & the Social Sciences, and the Australian Society of Archivists.
Research and Development
ASAP maintains an active research and development program funded
through industry collaborations and the Australian Research Council.
It is designed to develop innovative archive and record-keeping
products and services that not only meet current industry and
business needs but also promote the practice of responsible and
Recent studies have shown that although sound record-keeping
practices are essential to the successful conduct of science,
few scientists or science administrators take adequate care or
have sufficient knowledge to implement workable archives and records
programs. The advent of electronic records keeping has made this
an especially urgent task.
Outreach and Collaboration
ASAP works to encourage cooperative links between heritage institutions
with the aim of fostering understanding, interaction and the development
of shared goals. This extends to the development of international
relationships with similar bodies to ensure that our work meshes
with that being performed overseas. These activities assist the
professional development of ASAP staff and help ensure that ASAP
is aware of the latest advances in archives and records management
ASAP is a member of the Australian Council of Archives, the Society of American Archivists and AusHeritage (a national export enterprise network of heritage industry practitioners which provides heritage consultation services to the Asia-Pacific region). ASAP staff
also hold memberships of the Australian Society of Archivists
and the International Council on Archives. ASAP is a main contributor
to the Science, Technology and Medicine Archives (STAMA) special interest groups of both these organisations.
Further information can be obtained by contacting ASAP's Head
Office in Melbourne, or the Canberra Office. Details can be found in ASAP's Staff Directory.