Wanted: your finding aids

The results of the 1998 Special Collections in ARL Libraries and the follow-up 2009 OCLC Research Survey of Special Collections and Archives revealed that “hidden collections” are a challenge for archives and special collections. Usually, the term hidden collections brings to mind unprocessed and undescribed collections. But what about collections that are processed and described, but the collection descriptions are unavailable online? These off-line collection descriptions represent a special type of hidden collection, and also a special opportunity; the difficult intellectual work of arranging and describing collections is done and in theory, this is a last-mile problem which can be tackled with a small suite of tools and technology.

OCLC Research is in the early stages of a small scale experiment that will explore the effectiveness of tools and techniques for bringing offline descriptions to the open Web using the Beta version of ArchiveGrid. We’re calling this project “rough and ready” finding aids, because the collection descriptions are rough — and although you may not be willing to call them perfect, you may be ready to make them accessible.

Do you have typescript finding aids? Are you interested in experimenting with us? If so, drop me a note. If you’d like to contribute electronic finding aids to ArchiveGrid, we’d love to hear from you as well!

Thanks to those of you who responded to previous blog posts and inquiries — you have helped us to shape this project!