This issue of ADS News marks the fifth anniversary of the ADS. You may already have noticed that we have marked the occasion by giving the newsletter a facelift. Over the next few months users will also see changes to the ADS web site, and some significant improvements to the ADS catalogue, ArchSearch, where the latest web technologies and a redesigned database will provide enhanced search and retrieval facilities. We will also be launching HEIRPORT, a new Internet portal for the Historic Environment.
There is a lot of talk these days about joined-up government and joined-up thinking. HEIRPORT puts this into practice by providing a single web gateway from which users can simultaneously search the databases of the ADS, the RCAHMS and the Portable Antiquities Programme, with further targets in the pipeline. At the end of the day users aren’t bothered which high quality resources they get results from. By joining up a number of resources HEIRPORT allows users to carry out one search across a number of distributed resources, rather than a series of separate searches of each database. This approach, often described as ‘interoperability’ (and explained at www.ariadne.ac.uk/issue24/interoperability/) is part of the Government’s vision for the future of information provision. It reflects an information landscape in which Internet resources may be linked in any combination by subject matter, target audience, or user interface. One gateway might provide a user-friendly interface geared towards a schools audience, for instance; another might provide access to image collections; another might focus on resources about Scotland. HEIRPORT will provide a map-based interface and keyword searching of Historic Environment Information Resources, aimed at the archaeologically-informed user. It is one of the projects being promoted by HEIRNET, described in this issue of ADS News by Kate Fernie, who has been seconded by English Heritage to promote the HEIRNET objectives. Since our establishment the ADS has worked closely with the CBA and the NMRs of England, Scotland and Wales to enhance access to information. We are delighted to be working within HEIRNET to extend this role.