The National Archives and GIS

Open access has in many ways been the benchmark for the internet.  I am not sure collaborative efforts through digital media will transform the archives into one big well from which google or some other meta-giant can extract all its resources.  However, I do believe GIS holds promising potential for researchers, staff, and management of an archives.  An archives could develop spatial coordinates based on a much smaller geography than the earth’s surface.  Multiple layers, showing for example the location of series of records, how often they were referenced, and any feed back notes from researchers, appraisal reports, processing notes from archivists (e.g. volume), and original notes from the originating agency concerning the records could be superimposed in a single environment for analysis and researching.  Digitizing billions of paper documents does not seem feesible but visualizing the data about the records for more efficient bibliographic searching, space allocation, and contextual analysis would be extremely beneficial to all within the archives.

I believe Linda Hill’s Georeferencing in Digital Libraries, “application of georeferencing to all types of information and the integration of geospatial description, searching, and analysis into digital library practices,” is better suited for an archives rather than a library.  An archives usually contains a much greater volume of records which are semi-structured, partially processed, within multiple formats, and housed within several buildings on several floors within them.  Perhaps geo-archival referencing could relate records (regardless of format) to spatial locations through spatial coordinates.

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~ by pencil on October 16, 2006.

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