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DigiCULT
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Info
26
O
ur evaluation has shown that this
development of access to the Archives
is a far-reaching development in the
right to information, making collections
accessible to thousands of new people.
J
ust as we try to remove any architectu-
ral barriers that prevent access to disa-
bled users wishing to visit our Archive
buildings, we must also serve disabled
Internet users and remove any barriers to
their virtual visits. We intend to adopt
the recommendations and requirements
of international standards for Web acces-
sibility (among others, Web Content
Accessibility Guidelines,
http://www.w3.org/TR/WAI-
WEBCONTENT/) in order to provide
a high-quality site not only in terms of
content but also with regard to access
mechanisms.
STANDARDISATION OF THE
DESCRIPTION AND ORGANISATION OF
KNOWLEDGE
I
n order to develop the contents of
AER, major preparatory work on the
archival description of records has had to
be carried out to bring them into line
· In Archive-user identification and
accreditation, the `physical' National
Researcher Card has evolved into the
`virtual' National Researcher Card
where the user fills in a form with his
personal data and areas for research.
· The conventional researchers' room has
been replaced by a virtual researchers'
room which has allowed us to develop
a new space on the Net where resour-
ces from many different Archives can be
consulted. The AER project currently
offers digital versions of documents
housed in eleven different Spanish
State Archives.
A
ER also incorporates a use and
access statistics module (including a
user profile, areas of research, most
requested documents, and frequency of
access) which allows us to be in constant
dialogue with the research environment.
The statistics module has made it possi-
ble for us to monitor the use of and
access to the AER portal.
T
he results of the evaluation of access
have been spectacular. Between 1
April and 31 December 2003, there were
203,410 visits to the AER portal; more
than 17,500 users have registered and
used the search screens 611,629 times.
These figures would be unimaginable in
terms of actual presence at the Archives.
Visits are consistent around the clock, as
when daytime is drawing to a close in
Europe Internet consultations are just
beginning in Latin America. Of the
European countries, visits to the portal
are most frequently made by users in
Italy, Portugal and France. The high
number of visits made by users in Latin
American countries, in particular
Argentina and Mexico, is significant. It is
also worth mentioning that 632 users
from the United States of America have
registered.
with international standards. This was an
onerous task of standardising and adap-
ting old but valid descriptions to the new
information structures of the
International Archival Description
Standards: ISAD (G) and ISAAR (CPF).
T
he role that the Spanish Archives can
play in the dissemination of cultural
heritage in a digital context is especially
relevant as the Archives' organisation of
knowledge is structured in a way that
resembles the structure of the Web:
1 Archive information is structured in a
hierarchical manner applying a multi-
level rule describing the most general
to the most particular (ISAD (G)).
2 Contextual information is fundamental
to archival description and, furthermo-
re, standards have been established
(ISAAR (CPF)) to deal with the pro-
blem of context.
O
ne of the fundamental challenges
of the Web is the contextualisation
of objects and integration of these con-
texts within information structures. The
hypertextual nature of these Web sites
can be an effective tool in
this respect but theoretical
reflection is also required.
The AER portal has taken
these concepts into account
and allows the user to
browse hierarchically by
means of a tree that con-
tains the whole logical
structure of the Archive
being consulted. In any
search result, resources are
not presented in isolation
just as a collection of
objects, but are contextuali-
sed according to the level
of description and logical
structure of the Archive.
AER Screen (Virtual Researcher Card )
© Minister
io de Educación,
Cultura y Depor
te de España,
2004