Introducing ArchiveGrid – the sandbox where archivists build something better

Those of you in the archive or research library world may be familiar with ArchiveGrid®, a database and discovery service that grew out of RLG’s Archival Resources service which leveraged all the collection level descriptions in the union catalog and aggregated the encoded finding aids that institutions made available for their collections. For many years ArchiveGrid was a subscription service and it has continued as such within the OCLC environment.

Although ArchiveGrid is currently available as a subscription service at, it will eventually become a free discovery system. To facilitate this transition, OCLC Research is developing a new ArchiveGrid discovery interface that is now freely available. To try it out, go to

The great work of my Research colleagues, Bruce Washburn and research assistant Ellen Ast, has produced this experimental version of ArchiveGrid which will signficantly expand the work and impact of OCLC Research in the archives arena.

A major strand of Research investment has gone toward the broad area of Mobilizing Unique Materials where the objective has been the achievement of economies and efficiencies that permit the unique materials in libraries, archives and museums to be effectively described, properly disclosed, successfully discovered and appropriately delivered. There’s been great work done and I hope you’ll review some of it at the link above but we’ve also been hampered by the lack of a proving ground where innovative approaches to description can be tested, where discovery behaviors can be watched and measured and where we can identify the best ways to have search engines incorporate these unique institutional assets into results.

We want ArchiveGrid to fill that gap. My colleagues are structuring a program of work around ways in which this sandbox can be best exploited to the advantage of archivists and potential users of archives. We’ll look first to what the institutions in the OCLC Research Library Partnership can contribute both in the way of content but ideas and direction as well. We’ll generalize our findings and feed this back to the community.

Check out ArchiveGrid now. It includes over a million descriptions of archival collections held by thousands of libraries, museums, historical societies and archives worldwide and enables researchers to learn about the contents of these collections, contact archives to arrange a visit to examine materials or order copies—all from one simple, intuitive search. At the bottom of the landing page you’ll see the links to provide feedback and to indicate interest in including your descriptions in the aggregation. Operators are standing by.

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