The National Archives (TNA) has implemented a new institutional digital system in its Collection Care department using ResearchSpace, a system that captures the knowledge and processes of cultural heritage and humanities professionals and using the CIDOC CRM (Conceptual Reference Model). This new system records both conservation practice and research with provenance and historical context. It provides experts with a flexible and expandable information system that dynamically grows as processes change.
The National Archives’ Collection Care Department, a centre of excellence in the field of archive conservation, guards and ensures access to the UK national archives through preservation and display, innovative sector-leading treatment and research, environmental management, and increasingly through collaboration and the exchange of information and context.
ResearchSpace, a semantic and contextually driven system, developed at the British Museum with support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, will help the Collection Care Department support these activities and develop internal skills. It creates the means to answer questions about conservation practice, research and priorities and link conservation to wider issues of social and historical significance and inclusiveness.
This implementation reflects the TNA’s progressive approach to conservation practice and research and represents a step change in the way that computer systems are used as more than essential finding aids and reference systems. ResearchSpace is an open source knowledge system that can help represent and integrate knowledge from different disciplines, communities and perspectives, and remove fragmentation from information and knowledge processes. As such it will support TNA Collection Care in addressing new challenges and information needs, and represent innovative and socially aware thinking.
The system is supported by Kartography, a Community Interest Company that specialises in data contextualisation (historical and social significance and relevance), the equality of representation in data, and the development of the ResearchSpace system. It develops collaborative systems drawing from wider and diverse sources of knowledge.