Gavan McCarthy and Ken Anderson at the
Hazelwood Power Station.
Consultancies have become a larger part of ASAP's work, as large institutions and organisations become more aware of the value of their records, and their need to control them. For ASAP these consultancies provide a means of ensuring the preservation of information generated by science at work. These records are as important to our understandings of science and its place in society as the records of individual scientists. They also contribute financially to the Project, sustaining it in the longer term. Our main tool for information management, ASAP ADS has been developed partly in response to the needs of our consultancy clients.
At the other end of the information production line, ASAP is also dedicated to ensuring that the knowledge we, and others, produce, about Australia's science and technology is made accessible to as many people as possible. To this end, Gavan McCarthy has been engaged on a consultancy with Australian Archives, aimed at enabling the transfer of data between RASA, ADS and Australian Archives systems, with the view to facilitating the production of new subject-oriented national guides.
ASAP's Archival Data System (ADS) is a sophisticated information management system developed by ASAP in response to the wide range of collections with which it has had to deal. As a result, ADS is highly flexible, able to manage collections of any size, and to move from a broad survey level to a highly detailed description. It is also designed to deal with collections that may contain a variety of record formats and artefacts, and that may be located in different places.
The methodology that has been developed enables teams of people to work on a collection simultaneously, considerably speeding the processing time, and providing a hard copy trail of all the data collected. Survey sheets are used to record information about the context of the records (provenance and series) as well as describing the records themselves (at item level). All the information is entered into a database, from where it can be manipulated to provide hard copy finding aids organised for specific management tasks, or accessed directly on-line. Ultimately, as the cost of PC notebook computers reduces, it will be possible to have teams processing directly into the database. However, elements of the current system will remain an important part of ADS, as they provide it with the flexibility to be used in a variety of environments.
After a successful initial analysis of the CSL Inc, Plasma Products Facility, Broadmeadows, ASAP were engaged by CSL to tackle the more detailed task of controlling the vast bulk of vital records created during the design, commissioning and construction phases of the project. Dani Zephyr was employed to take on the role of Project Archivist at the CSL Broadmeadows site, a demanding role she has taken on with great dedication. Other staff members employed at the CSL site during the year were Lisa Cianci, Val Cook, Simon Eastman, Milly Fels, David Fowler, Julie Gleeson, Geoff Gray, Catherine Green, David Hudson, Fiona Kinsey, Jason McGlone, Marie Steer, Georgina Stewart, and Graeme Tucker. We would like to thank all for their commitment and enthusiasm. This has been the first large scale project using ASAP ADS, and the input of staff and users has contributed a great deal to its continued development.
Processing of the records of the Hazelwood Power Station commenced at the end of January 1994 using a team of employees provided by the Station under the direction of the Chief Archivist, Gavan McCarthy. The team has worked at an extremely consistent rate over the past six months and has achieved much. A variety of strategies have been employed to deal with the disparate records, in very varied conditions, but the outcome for all records has been entry onto the Hazelwood ADS database. The newly found control over the archival records (records that could be vital to the future maintenance and running of the Station) has already been aptly demonstrated. Whereas it had taken up to three days to find important instrumentation charts in the past they have now been located in under ten minutes. The Hazelwood Power Station Archives Project provides ASAP with a highly successful model for running Projects in which it provides management and training skills to the client's employees. It has also demonstrated the flexible and user-friendly nature of ASAP ADS
The Chief Archivist conducted a feasibility study funded by Australian Archives looking into the possibility of producing a guide or guides to the records of science and technology in the custody of Australian Archives. Clearly, this is potentially a mammoth task which could only be achieved realistically if it were possible to transfer the relevant data from the Australian Archives databases to a system better suited to the production of subject guides. The study demonstrated that data could be taken from the Australian Archives systems and added to the recently modified ASAP national register, RASA. From RASA it has already been shown to be a relatively easy task to produce both hard copy and on-line guides. Funding will now be sought to advance the process to the next stage and ultimately the production of the guides.
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