1996 marked the end of ASAP's first decade and the conclusion
of a period of dramatic growth. As a self-funded body within
The University of Melbourne, ASAP has always had to secure enough
funding to continue our work on a year-to-year basis. This, for
many years, has hampered our attempts to create a strong research
program, or to develop strategies for the long term. However,
ASAP's continued success in obtaining commercial contracts, and
our ability not only to sustain but significantly to increase
our activities over this decade, has assured us of the value of
our work and given us the confidence to start looking at our longer
term goals and aspirations. With increased security and a decade
of experience behind us, ASAP is now in a position to tackle directly
a range of issues that concern both us and the wider archival
and heritage communities.
In 1996 we became more aware of the theoretical significance of
many aspects of ASAP's work and the potential for our projects
to feed into contemporary archival research. The importance of
such research, and its links to our work with industry, was confirmed
with our success in obtaining an Australian Research Council Collaborative
Research Grant with one of our power industry clients. This recognition
has strengthened our belief in the importance of developing strategies
for dealing with the records of science, technology and medicine.
These records often require unique methods for their management
and retention, and have both heritage and commercial value.
With continued success in tendering for archival projects, ASAP's
archival processing projects undertaken in this period were worth
more than A$2.96 million. These contracts permitted ASAP to put
time into developing our products and structures, and to expand
our core team of staff.
ASAP's projects continued to focus on the Victoria power industry;
we were involved in a variety of archival and records management
projects - some new and some on-going. These projects enabled
ASAP to hone its skills and tools and provided us with opportunities
to demonstrate the on-going value of archival records to the commercial
world. Our experience this year has shown very clearly that archival
records are not only valuable from a heritage perspective but,
when managed and accessible, provide an important resource for
business and industry. Refinements in our project processes and
protocols have allowed us to present clearly-defined goals and
outcomes for each step of the archival process, and to improve
the quality and range of professional services we can offer our
In particular, this year saw increasingly sophisticated demands
upon our ASAP Archival Data-management System (ASAP ADS).
The package was moved to a Microsoft Access platform, providing
more user-friendly features and considerably faster data processing
times. Joanne Evans has been the driving force behind the improvements
in ASAP ADS, and the dedication and innovation she has shown
has been invaluable.
ASAP's information services continued in the development of innovative
WWW-based resources. Most importantly, 1996 saw major changes
to ASAP's central online resource Bright Sparcs. The value
of Bright Sparcs was recognised by a grant from the Australia
Foundation for Culture and the Humanities.
Our program of outreach also continued in a variety of ways.
Perhaps the most notable was ASAP's attendance at the Australian
Society of Archivists Conference 1996 in Alice Springs. The conference
presentations by ASAP staff members highlighted ASAP's successful
performance in the commercial and academic arenas, and the success
of our methodology and tools (not to mention staff input and innovation)
in carrying out projects that, to many, would be considered impossible.
ASAP's presence at a number of international conferences considerably
increased our international visibility and will allow valuable
contacts and cooperative projects to be planned for the future.
ASAP has been extremely lucky to have been able to attract a team
of dedicated and talented archival and support staff who share
our vision and whose input into our work cannot be overstated.
With an increased number of professional staff, who look to us
for their professional development, the task for ASAP's management
staff has been to provide our staff with opportunities to develop
their own skills and specialties, which also support our work,
and strengthen the future viability of ASAP as a whole. In 1996
we concentrated on creating a strong infrastructure to support
our clients and the work of our archival staff, as well as establishing
the support systems necessary for active research by ASAP staff.
Overall, 1996 saw ASAP continue our search for innovative, informative
and accessible resources - not only for clients, but also for
our staff. Our focus on staff involvement has always been our
strength, and we have been actively seeking ways to facilitate
staff communication and input, in recognition of the expertise
that our staff have developed through their work and their dedication
to ASAP's vision.
As ASAP moves into our second decade of service to the Australian
community, we look forward to further consolidating the knowledge
gained and networks made during our first ten years of operation.
Supported by the dedication and imagination of our staff, ASAP
will continue to improve access to Australia's scientific, technological
and medical heritage while increasing our expertise in the field
of archival practice.
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