If you’ve used our website in the last 18 months, you’ll be aware that we’re in the process of replacing our old Catalogue with a brand new shiny one. Discovery, our new catalogue, has been designed to provide a similar experience to the search tools found elsewhere across the web, with features like filters (to refine searches) and tagging (to help other people find records). It has also been designed with large volumes of data in mind – the old Catalogue was creaking under the weight of several million records, and with many more to come in the next few years (especially with the impending shift to 20-year rule, and the expected arrival of even more government records) we decided that the time had come to build a new one.
Right from the outset we knew that it would be an enormous undertaking. Our ambition has always been to replace not just the Catalogue, but also to incorporate data from other systems such as DocumentsOnline, the National Register of Archives and the ARCHON directory, in order to provide a ‘one-stop shop’ for anyone wanting to search our collection – and those held by other archives – and to download digital copies of records where available. The practicalities of doing this have been challenging, to say the least – with a number of different technical systems to deal with, along with enormous amounts of feedback from our many different user groups and staff, it has taken time to build a system that fulfils all our users’ needs.