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National Archives plans website upgrade


Mark Say Managing Editor

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National Archives is planning a major revamp of its website to include new tools and simplify key transactions.

The archive and publisher for the UK Government has put out a call for a partner to help it develop a prototype over six months beginning by the end of September, saying it needs fresh thinking on the aim.

The procurement notice says it is not aiming for an instant replacement of the existing website – although this is described as “vast, confusing, inconsistent, hard to change and expensive to maintain" – but says it wants to create tools to help people learn how to use its collection and attract new users.

Among the priorities is that researchers should be able to find whether the site holds records relevant to an enquiry and how to access them, and to be able to frame sophisticated queries.

Initial analysis has let the organisation to look towards working with technologies based on AWS, static content management and search services such as Elasticssearch. It is also interested in the potential of knowledge graphs and is open minded about linked data.

A small team has already done some pre-discovery work, including a technical investigation taking in evidence and interpretive content, rethinking URLs and the capabilities of commodity cloud architecture.

The move is in line with the priorities of National Archives’ vision document, Archives for Everyone, which includes improving the research opportunities from its collection, securing the future of the Government record and fostering new approaches in archival practice.

Image from under Open Government Licence v3.0

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