From Discovery to Delivery

The launch of the new ADS online catalogue, known internally as ArchSearchII, fulfils a vision which goes back to the creation of ADS. Although the high usage of the catalogue has demonstrated its popularity from the start we have sometimes been frustrated that it has not offered the power and flexibility demanded by many archaeological research questions. As a result of a complete restructuring of the underlying database and a total overhaul of the interface, the new catalogue now permits much more sophisticated queries. Users are also able to save and download results sets and to search within specific resources, such as individual sites and monuments records (SMRs). This option is important for data depositors. A number of SMRs are now available via ADS, such as Greater London, Northumberland, South Gloucestershire, Clywd Powys, West of Scotland, as well as that for Northern Ireland, and recently the National Trust, with others imminent. We are often asked if we charge SMRs for this service so it is useful to note that we provide this "shop window" at no charge to depositors or to their research users. Our role with these resources is as brokers so that researchers can get access to them, whilst the SMRs retain responsibility for maintenance and preservation. Many see ADS as an effective and painless way of providing online access to their data for the research community.

Digital archives deposited with ADS for long-term preservation are a different matter. Whilst researchers in academic institutions may archive data with ADS for free, by virtue of our funding, we now have a well developed charging policy which applies to other government agencies and commercial operations. Several major contract projects now see online digital archives as a key part of their publication strategy. In this context one of the most exciting data sets to arrive in the office this week comprised the digital archives of phase one of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link, deposited by Rail Link Engineering. As this and other project archives become available we'll keep readers informed via ADS News.

In the meantime we hope you like ArchSearch II. It moves us on from resource discovery to data delivery - directly to your desk top. Try it out and let us know what you think.

Julian Richards

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