Research and Development
In 1997, ASAP staff also commenced work on a number of broad areas of archival research which were identified as having particular relevance to both the science, technology and medicine heritage area and the more commercially focused projects. These areas included: data visualisation; records and archives issues surrounding the decommissioning of major engineering works such as nuclear power stations and dams; and the possible roles of encoded archival description. ASAP staff also played a consultative role in the development of the successful Australian Research Council grant application submitted by the Monash University, Department of Librarianship, Archives and Records, Archival Metadata Standards for Managing and Accessing Information Resources in Networked Environments over Time for Government, Commerce, Social and Cultural Purposes.
In 1996 ASAP submitted an application to the Australian Research Council under the Collaborative Grant Support scheme for 1997. Funds were requested for a one year project with the industry collaborator being the power generation companies brought together under the Generation Victoria Round II project. The aim of the research project was to examine the performance of the ADS in an industrial context, investigating and extending its capabilities, relating its principles to current research trends and laying the foundations for the next generation of archival management systems. The key purpose of the investigation was to ascertain from a real industrial setting the actual parameters that were required to be managed when attempting to document, manage and provide access to the total record environment. The testing of archival theory against real-life situations and the subsequent development of pragmatic and practical solutions was an essential element of the project.
The foundation work on this project was carried out during the Generation Victoria work from 1995 to 1997 and related directly to the meeting of specific needs of the client. Development of the research specific work was carried out in 1997. Some of the findings and implications of the research were reported at the ASA Conference in Adelaide in August 1997.
During 1997 significant work was undertaken to transform the original developmental work done in the late 1980s by Gavan McCarthy on the provision of an automated ‘back of book’ style index for computer based archival documentation. This function is in addition to the keyterm function that was developed to systematically manage high-level catagorisation of the records according to the specific needs of the client. The potential of the indexing function to add value to standard archival documentation and significantly improve ease of access is enormous. Its value will be most appreciated in the networked and internet environments. Development of the function through programming, development of protocols and testing on current archival documentation was conducted by Joanne Evans, Lisa Cianci, Helen Morgan and Rachel Tropea.