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3. Joining it all up: finding aids

One of the ways in which HEIRNET has been working to help people to find useful information resources is by creating a register of HEIRs. The register includes details of resources held by national agencies, local government, universities, museums, libraries, special interest groups and by others. These resources vary considerably in terms of the breadth of both the subject and the geographical area that they cover. For example, some cover a specific theme over a wide area (the catalogue of all Roman mosaics in Britain) while others provide a localised general inventory (the urban archaeological database for Cirencester). In creating the register, HEIRNET aims to build a picture of information resources relating to the historic environment of the UK.

The web entry point for the HEIRNET 
Figure 1: The HEIRNET register http://ads.ahds.ac.uk/heirnet

The HEIRNET register can be described as a collection description tool, as it provides a consistent index to collections that enables users to discover and locate interesting resources (Powell et al. 2000). The information that it holds is based on the Dublin Core Metadata element set (Dublin Core 2002), with additional information being recorded about arrangements for access to the collections. This framework allows users to search the register on-line by:

A search of the register produces a list of resources containing information that may be of interest to the researcher. The register provides a short explanation about each resource describing, for example, whether the HEIR holds digital texts, images, spatial data or whether it provides an index to collections of objects or paper archives. This information should help users to decide which HEIRs are likely to be of relevance to their research.

Results listing from the HEIRNET Register
Figure 2: The results from a search of the HEIRNET register

Importantly, the HEIRNET register helps users to find out how to access information resources. Increasing numbers of HEIRs are available on-line but at the present time most are only available off-line and some are only able to offer restricted access to visitors. The register gives users information about access arrangements for an HEIR and provides up-to-date contact details (i.e. phone and fax numbers, postal and email addresses). Where on-line resources are available, the register includes a direct link to both the organisation's web-site and to any available on-line catalogues or databases.

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Last updated: Tue Feb 18 2003