Announcing ArchivesZ – a tool for visualizing archival collections. This prototype is the final project for my information visualization class. It is a web based tool designed to support exploration of aggregated data about archival collections – inspired by the availability of structured data in EAD encoded finding aids.
For visual thinkers who just want to see what this is about – take a look at our 5 minute video demonstration. I don’t yet have a version online for folks to play with – but that is in the works.
This is the official blurb we came up with to describe the project:
ArchivesZ is an information visualization tool designed to support search, understanding and exploration of of archival and manuscript collections. The tool addresses one of the major challenges facing those who work with archival records – the need to understand the scope and quantity of available records. Since archival collections are unique, vary dramatically in record quantity and are organized based on the records creators it can be a great challenge for users to gain perspective concerning the available records across multiple collections. ArchivesZ leverages a unique dual sided histogram to support exploration of the multiple subjects assigned to each collection. As subject terms are selected, the dual sided histogram chart is generated to display related subjects. The tool combines the dual sided histogram with a more traditional histogram displaying year data to permit tightly coupled, multi-dimensional browsing of subject and time period metadata. By representing the distribution of subjects and time periods using the metric of total aggregate linear feet of associated collections, ArchivesZ permits users to get a better sense of total available research materials than they would by viewing a standard search result list.
If you are curious about what a ‘dual-sided histogram’ actually is (or just want to read more about the process and ideas that led us to the current incarnation of ArchivesZ) take a look at our final paper about ArchivesZ.
There is a very long list of features I would like to add or improve but of course there is only so much you can do in the few weeks available for a project like this. Some of our ideas are detailed at the end of the paper I linked to above. I plan to continue working on ArchivesZ and I welcome all feedback – either as comments to this post or via email to jeanne AT spellboundblog.com.