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Spiro 2009 Report

Archival Management Software
A Report for the Council on Library and Information Resources

by Lisa Spiro

January, 2009. 119 pp.

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With generous support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Council on Library and Information Resources has launched a multiyear program that addresses the challenge of cataloging hidden collections—those materials held in special collections, archives, and other restricted or relatively inaccessible settings. The program has two major dimensions: first, to identify hidden collections of potential value to scholars; and second, to address the thorny issue of cataloging such materials efficiently, effectively, and in such a way that the catalog records are available to scholars through the Web. In this paper, Lisa Spiro describes and analyzes some of the major technologies that are available to librarians, curators, and archivists and the implications of deploying these systems for existing workflows.

We invite members of the community to build on this report. Ms. Spiro has established a wiki at http://archivalsoftware.pbwiki.com/FrontPage, where you can share your experiences and observations about archival management software and workflows.


Contents

About the Author
Acknowledgments
Foreword

1. Introduction
2. The Problem of Hidden Collections
3. The Role of Software in Addressing Hidden Collections
4. Research Method
5. How to Select Archival Management Software
6. Criteria for Choosing Archival Software
7. Types of Software
8. Possible Approaches to Federating Archival Description from Multiple Repositories
9. Conclusion
Works Cited

Appendixes

Appendix 1: The Archival Workflow

Appendix 2: Archival Management Systems Features Matrix [Brief]

Appendix 3: Archival Management Systems Features Matrices [Full]

Appendix 4: Notes from Interviews with Archivists about Archon, Archivists' Toolkit, Cuadra STAR/Archives, Eloquent, and CollectiveAccess
Archivists' Toolkit Summary
Archon Summary
Cuadra STAR/Archives Summary
Eloquent Archive Summary
CollectiveAccess Summary


About the Author

Lisa Spiro directs Rice University's Digital Media Center, where she manages digital projects; provides training in XML markup, digital research tools, and multimedia; studies emerging educational technologies; and oversees the university's central multimedia lab. A Frye Leadership Institute fellow, she received her Ph.D. in English from the University of Virginia, where she worked at the Electronic Text Center and served as the managing editor of Postmodern Culture. She has published and presented on book history, institutional repositories, and the scholarly use of digital archives. She blogs about digital scholarship in the humanities at http://digitalscholarship.wordpress.com/.

Acknowledgments

In preparing this report, I spoke or corresponded with a number of archivists, software developers, metadata specialists, and vendors. I would like to offer my sincere thanks for their insights and frankness; this report would be much less rich without their input. All errors are my own.

  • Lisa Atkinson, University of Calgary
  • Charles Blair, University of Chicago
  • Leah Broaddus, Southern Illinois University Carbondale
  • Christopher Burcsik, MINISIS Inc.
  • Chris Burns, University of Vermont
  • Christine de Catanzaro, Georgia Institute of Technology
  • Nicole Cho, Coney Island History Project
  • Michele Combs, Syracuse University
  • Cara Conklin-Wingfield, The Parrish Art Museum
  • Amanda Focke, Rice University
  • Julie Grob, University of Houston
  • Geneva Henry, Rice University
  • Malcolm Howitt, DS Limited
  • Cees Huisman, Adlib Information Systems BV
  • Seth Kaufman, CollectiveAccess
  • Shelly Kelly, University of Houston-Clear Lake
  • Anne Kling, Cincinnati Historical Society
  • Bill Landis, Yale University
  • Daniel Meyer, University of Chicago
  • Eric Milenkiewicz, University of California Riverside
  • Sammie Morris, Purdue University
  • Merilee Proffitt, RLG Programs, OCLC
  • Chris Prom, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign/Archon
  • Merv Richter, Eloquent Systems
  • Melissa Salazar, New Mexico State Archives
  • Dan Santamaria, Princeton University
  • Amy Schindler, College of William and Mary
  • Alice Schreyer, University of Chicago
  • Jennifer Silvers, Oklahoma Historical Society
  • Ilene Slavick, Cuadra Associates, Inc.
  • Amanda Stevens, Council of Nova Scotia Archives
  • Chuck Thomas, Florida Center for Library Automation
  • Melissa Torres, Rice University
  • Maxine Trost, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
  • Peter Van Garderen, Artefactual Systems/ICA-AToM
  • Bruce Washburn, OCLC/ArchiveGrid
  • Rebecca L. Wendt, California State Archives
  • Brad Westbrook, University of California San Diego/Archivists' Toolkit
  • Jennifer Whitfield, Past Perfect
  • Kathy Wisser, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Foreword

With generous support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Council on Library and Information Resources has launched a multiyear program that addresses the challenge of cataloging hidden collections—those materials held in special collections, archives, and other restricted or relatively inaccessible settings. The program has two major dimensions: first, to identify hidden collections of potential value to scholars; and second, to address the thorny issue of cataloging such materials efficiently, effectively, and in such a way that the catalog records are available to scholars through the Web. In this paper, Lisa Spiro describes and analyzes some of the major technologies that are available to librarians, curators, and archivists and the implications of deploying these systems for existing workflows. We offer this report to the community with the hope that it will foster discussion as well as aid CLIR's evaluation of awards and articulation of lessons to be learned. Ms. Spiro has established a wiki at http://archivalsoftware.pbwiki.com/FrontPage. We encourage readers to contribute their experiences.

Amy Friedlander
Director of Programs
Council on Library and Information Resources

January 9, 2009


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