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Armenia archives moving toward broader access
Following the EIFL-FOSS Call for Participation in October / November 2010, a number of projects are getting underway in a variety of areas. One of these, in Armenia, is designed to help archives upgrade their technology in order to provide broader access to their unique archival materials. In Armenia, many information repositories have some computing technology and internet connectivity, but they do not yet have the capability for putting their archives online in a format compatible with others. This project will offer a FOSS solution, J-ISIS. During this pilot project, J-ISIS will be tested and recommendations will be produced on the suitability and potential for using this system in archives across Armenia.
Recommendations will be prepared about the pros and cons of the system, and depending on the results of the pilot, J-ISIS systems may be included in the curriculum of the LIS faculty in International Scientific Educational Centre in Yerevan, for Masters level studies.
For libraries, well structured and internationally approved standards are developed for automation and data exchange, but for archives and museums such standards are not readily available, and each country (or organisation) has to solve the problem of automation on its own.
Additionally, in Armenia they face the challenge that many Armenian archives began digitising between the mid 1980s and 1990s using WinISIS system. Because this system pre-dates the internet, it is not web based and is not UNICODE compatible. Successful piloting of J-ISIS will allow archives and resource centres to directly replace their existing WinISIS system with a J-ISIS one that will allow internet access and UNICODE compatibility.
The intention behind the creation of the J-ISIS software is to develop a new multiplatform FOSS ISIS suite that would provide the same concepts and functionalities as the UNESCO ISIS suite while removing some of the disadvantages, being Client/Server, UNICODE, and benefits from the latest software developments. The main objective of the software development is to develop a long-term solution that would be modular, easy maintainable and extensible.
The ISIS family of software tools (CDS/ISIS, WinISIS, ABCD, J-ISIS) allow resource managers to create and change the database structure, display formats, and indexing strategies without having any knowledge of programming languages. Such an approach minimises the resource centre manager’s interaction with (and dependence upon) the software developers, and delivers a wide variety of techniques for the manager during database construction, and maintenance. Most importantly, ISIS-family solutions are FOSS tools and therefore help to preserve the limited budgets of the organisations, and therefore provide a key element in the sustainability strategy of the organisation.