2 Comments on “Metadata for archival collections”

  1. Alex: I consulted with Mark Custer of Yale, the source of the statement about ArchiveSpace, asking him for the more details you requested. His response:

    1. ArchivesSpace does not include a biographical note that’s attached to an “Agent” (or archival creator /entity) record when it serializes an EAD file for the finding aid description. This has been a feature request from the community to further enable the separation (when most efficient) of description about archival creators from the description about records. Max Evans had a nice article about this back in the 1980s: http://americanarchivist.org/doi/abs/10.17723/aarc.49.3.0862585240520721 You definitely can use ArchivesSpace this way, ever since the first release; the only issues about that are with how that data is then exposed elsewhere, like with ArchiveGrid — since, A) the contextual notes about the Agents wouldn’t be included with the finding aid by ASpace right now automatically, and B) since ArchiveGrid doesn’t ingest EAC-CPF records, and, most importantly, C) since ArchivesSpace isn’t very good at ingesting or exporting EAC-CPF records just yet. All that said, ArchivesSpace has the foundation to support authority-based description; it just needs a few tweaks to how it handles that data to make it a practical choice, in my opinion. But even right now there’s nothing stopping anyone from including and linking authority descriptions in ArchivesSpace, and it’s definitely something that anyone using the system is already doing.

    2. ArchivesSpace only permits one “authority ID” to be attached with any “Agent” record. I just brought that one up since we were currently embarking on a project to store a lot more authority URIs in our ArchivesSpace database, and it would be nice, I think, to include both the LCNAF URI as well as other IDs, like a Wikidata URI when those also exist.

    So, I’d say that not only does ArchivesSpace permit the connection of authority records to collection description, it actually requires the linking of agent records (which could include details far beyond a normal authority record — such as narrative description, a family tree, etc. — but might also just include a name string!) to all aspects of material descriptions (from accession records, collection records, series-level records, item-level records, etc.). But, like most systems, there could be improvements with how that data is exposed outside of ArchivesSpace, which is why I’m especially glad that the SNAC project envisions working with ArchivesSpace and other archival management systems in the future. Just exactly how those systems will work together has still yet to be determined / implemented, but that integration could have an interesting impact on how processing archivists do their day-to-day work.

    I don’t have any more information about GWU’s name authorities work.

  2. Thanks for posting this! I’m not entirely clear what you mean by “ArchiveSpace does not connect authority records with to collection descriptions” – our experience with the application is that its Agents module allows for connecting local representations of authorized entities (complete with authority identifiers to reference against the authority file) to archival description. Could you go into more detail about this?

    Do you have any more information on GWU’s name authorities work?

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