Academy Job Shadow Days Report

Charles van den Heuvel at DANS

Charles van den Heuvel, head of the History of Science and Scholarship Research Group at the Huygens Huygens Institute for the History of the Netherlands, spent a morning at Data Archiving and Networked Services (DANS) shadowing Ilona von Stein, project coordinator/data manager for the Oral History dataset.

Charles van den Heuvel visits Ilona van Stein

Interesting me

It wasn’t easy to pick a date for the Job Shadow Days at first, because both of us naturally wanted to show the other the most exciting sides of our work. But Ilona scheduled a few interesting meetings for me with software developers at DANS who are helping her with her project in the EASY online archiving system. She describes what she wants and needs and the developer indicates how much progress he’s made, step by step. They also explore whether the facilities can be used in other projects. All this leads to the latest versions of the EASY software.

Software systems

Ilona is the coordinator of the Oral History dataset project and uses EASY for the long-term archiving of data that can be reused in other projects. She assembles different audio sources, for example interviews, which are ultimately combined with documentation about the same topic in other formats. That makes it easier to link materials and data. DANS has special internal procedures to determine whether something should be given or should retain the status of a project. Ilona’s project has been running for six months now and DANS will be reviewing it to decide whether it should continue in its present form.

We also talked to DANS staff about other software systems. We spoke to Betty Beunk (documentalist) about NARCIS, a large database containing information on Dutch researchers, their work and their publications. Marion Wittenberg (DataVerseNL service manager) told us more about DataVerseNL, a software system for ongoing projects that require archiving of multiple data versions.

The Huygens philosophy

The morning was a lot of fun and the time flew! The Huygens Institute has very little contact with DANS, but that’s mainly because our datasets are still under construction. We mainly work with CLARIAH and only archive the occasional dataset in DANS, for projects that we’ve completed. The Huygens philosophy is that projects are ‘live’ as long as we keep working on them. That’s why it was useful to learn about DataVerseNL, which in fact archives data from ongoing projects. All in all, I learned a lot about internal operations at DANS.