Public Record Office Victoria transcribes data from our records and makes it available in a variety of ways. This data helps researchers to discover individual records of interest through search and work with aggregate data from our record collections.
The data we work with includes:
- data about the Victorian Government over time, including names, dates and descriptions of the different government agencies and their functions;
- data about the records that the Victorian Government has created, including descriptions of thousands of collections or ‘series’ of records, the dates these records were made and what information they contain;
- data drawn from individual records, including name and place indexes of particular collections, that associate people with particular places or life events.
We share this information through the prov.vic.gov.au website and common portals in the ways listed below. Work is underway to make archival data available to other common portals and services.
We have published several datasets through the Victorian Government’s data directory. You can find:
- the complete datasets behind popular searches on our site, including the passenger list databases and the wills and probate database;
- data about our internal operations, including our digitising program and Reading Room services;
- links to data feeds from our metadata server and our Wiki server.
Open Archives Initiative metadata server
In 2012 we received funding from the Australian National Data Service for a joint project with State Records New South Wales to put in place a server that feeds collection data to the Research Data Australia portal. The portal exists to connect academic researchers to primary research data and collections. Our data is live on the ANDS website:
We have published descriptions of all the Victorian government agencies we have registered as well as descriptions of the record series that they have created and we hold. That data is provided in the RIF-CS format.
The metadata server we set up can also be queried directly using the OAI-PMH protocol. Instructions on the URLs that can query the server can be downloaded from the Sourceforge website (warning: this link will initiate a PDF download).
For the technically minded, we have published the scripts that convert the data from the SQL database maintained by Archives One (our internal collection management application) to XML files on our OAI server. These scripts may be of interest to archives undertaking similar projects, and can be found on Sourceforge: http://sourceforge.net/projects/governmentarchivesmetadata/
Standardising archival metadata
Underlying these projects is the need to represent the information we have in standard ways that can be understood and re-used in other systems. A significant challenge is addressing how to best represent the relationships of a complex archival control model that contains ‘many-to-many’ links. For example, an agency can be responsible for multiple functions over time.
In an early experiment we published data about Victorian Government agencies and functions in EAC-CPF format. We included basic relationship data to link these two concepts: each function that an agency has been responsible for is included in the agency data, along with the date ranges. For function data, each agency responsible for that function is listed in a relation element, along with the dates.
The files, created with data up to 2011, are available for download from our website.
Victorian Government ‘functions’ (a way to classify government activity and track shifting responsibilities over time).