Archivists’ Toolkit

Lat week, I attended an advisory board meeting for the Archivists’ Toolkit project. The AT aims to provide open source software that will help archives of all sizes manage and describe archival collections. The software is being built modularly, and the draft specifications are online for anyone to look at now – although as a result of the advisory board advising, the specifications will be undergoing revision.

A lot of very good work has been done on the project since the first meeting I attended last October. I’m impressed with the work that the archivist analysts have done in terms of pulling together the specifications, and with the programming team. I’m looking forward to getting my hands on a working version of the software soon!

Why am I excited about this project? First of all, I think the AT can help to bring the archival community together in a similar way to EAD. EAD has given archivists not only a means for encapsulating their collection descriptions, but also something to gather around, to talk about, a platform for sharing ideas. EAD has been a great gathering point for the descriptive side of the archival community. I think the AT has the potential to bring the archival community together over descriptive practice, processes, workflow, and policies. I don’t think the AT will provlidge a particular workflow, but I think that when archivists share a common tool, they wil talk with one another about how they are using it and share ideas.

The AT will output EAD, MARC21 in XML, EAC, and METS. As someone who works for a data provider, I’m eager to see content generated in a uniform way. I’m also pleased that the project will take RLG up on our offer to incorporate the RLG EAD Report Card.

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