Members of AX-SNet undertake a wide variety of research activity. Below are some of the research projects that members are involved in.


Research Projects

Archival Metrics and User Evaluation for Governmental Archives (Wendy Duff, Helen Tibbo, Beth Yakel et al.)

Funded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC), this project seeks to promote the culture of assessment for our government repositories by creating standardized survey tools and other performance measures. By centralizing the development of these tools we will assist archivists and records managers overcome impediments to implementing assessment and improvement programs.

Developing Archival Metrics in College and University Archives and Special Collections (Wendy Duff, Helen Tibbo, Beth Yakel)

The University of Michigan has received $329,000 from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to develop standardized survey instruments so that North American college and university archives can avoid duplication of effort and share the same survey and data collection tools. Leading archivists met in North Carolina in June, 2004 and reached an agreement that creation of such tools were an essential part of an effort to make the management of archives more data-driven.

The planned instruments will standardize data-collection procedures and definitions, and allow consolidation and analysis of data across institutions. Individual archives will be able to benchmark against their peers, which will help them improve their services, and prove their value to their parent institutions. The project benefits from recent strides in research on metrics development and testing in the research library and digital collection fields.

Multidimensional Visualisation of Archival Finding Aids (Ian Anderson and Steve North)

As more finding aids, of increasing complexity, become available online the difficulty of seeing the 'wood from the trees' increases. In part, this is caused by the inherent difficulty of navigating hierarchical structures (you need go back up and across before you can go down again) but also a symptom of the lack of innovation in visualising archival information. This project, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, seeks to test a novel approach to structuring and visualising archival information by transforming two existing EAD finding aids into Ted Nelson's ZigZag™structure and building a dynamic interface to support browsing and discovery.

Empowering Users: Development of Flexible Archive Catalogues (Lesley Richmond and Victoria Peters)

The project, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, is exploring the issues involved in creating a dynamic and flexible online archival finding aid, which adequately reflects the multiple contexts and complex inter-relationships of records and is responsive to the needs of researchers. It will use, as a test bed, and provide a greatly enhanced research resource to, the outstanding House of Fraser Department Store archive relating to British design, fashion and culture from the early nineteenth to the end of the twentieth century.

Modelling Contextual Interaction in Digital Archives (Andrea Johnson)

The Yaddo Archives (Ben Alexander)

Ben Alexander is Assistant Professor in the Gradate School of Library and Information Studies, Queens College, City University of New York. His research interests focus on Archival Theory and Practice, the History of Books and Printing, as well as 20 th century American Intellectual and Creative History. In particular, he is interested in the evidences of intellectual and creative thought at the point of material production and in studying the transmition of such interests across time and distance. I am similarly interested in international perspectives on the relationship between materiality and the formation of cultural memory and community identity.

Prior to this Ben was a Post-Doctoral Scholar and Associate Director of the Center for Information as Evidence in the Department of Information Studies at The University of California, Los Angeles. Previous to this appointment Mr. Alexander was a Manuscript Specialist in the Manuscripts and Archives Division of The New York Public Library, where, among other responsibilities, he served as Project Archivist for The Yaddo Records, the archival record for the artists' community located in Saratoga Springs, New York. As part of his work with this collection, Mr. Alexander administers an oral history project that is intended to compliment Yaddo’s material record. He holds an M.A. in English and American Literature from Columbia University and a Ph.D. from The City University of New York.

His dissertation entitled, Yaddo: A Creative History grew out of his professional involvement with Yaddo’s archive. Mr. Alexander's published work appears in such journals as American Archivist, Archival Science, and English Studies Canada. Mr. Alexander has lectured on Yaddo, its archival record, modern literature more generally, as well as issues relating to archives and material culture in, among other places, Atlanta, Chicago, Edmonton, Los Angeles, London, New York, Paris, San Antonio, Victoria, and Vienna. During the 2006-2007 academic year he held a visiting scholar appointments at Renmin University, Beijing and Monash University, Melbourne. For many years Mr. Alexander was a part-time faculty member in the English Department at Queens College, The City University of New York, where he taught in the undergraduate Honors College as well as in the Graduate School of Library and Information Studies.

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