Among the various types of electronic resources for the study of the ancient world, open access collections of primary archaeological data—for example, the Archaeology Data Service (http://archaeologydataservice.ac.uk/) and the Archaeobotanical Database (http://www.cuminum.de/archaeobotany/)—are a particular boon for researchers, especially those for whom annual fieldwork may not always be possible, in that these collections bring large quantities of raw data directly to the researchers’ fingertips .
Multi-institutional and multinational projects such as Open Context (http://opencontext.org/about/) are providing access to this primary archaeological data explicitly so that scholars and students can “easily find and reuse content created by others, which are key to advancing research and education.”
[Our emphasis] At the moment, there is no one institution or cooperation that has assumed the role of amassing, curating, disseminating, and preserving the world’s archaeological heritage. But whoever the final steward or stewards of this data may be, academic libraries will want to play a major role. After all, as James Neal sagely observed in his recent E-Content column, the “multiple personalities” of academic libraries will persist: we will be legacy, infrastructure, repository, portal, enterprise, and public interest2—a suite of personalities that might be applied just as easily to archaeologist.
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