Northwest Archivists 2008 in Anchorage

Northwest Archivists 2008 Annual Conference
New Frontiers in Archives and Records Management
Anchorage, Alaska

Following are summaries for two of the sessions that I attended:

Session 1: The Integrated Digital Special Collections (INDI)
This session introduced the Integrated Digital Special Collections (INDI), an open-source archival management application developed at Brigham Young University. INDI is a web-based system designed with an emphasis on archival workflow and distributed processing activities. The session included an introduction to the project and demonstrations of the functional application modules and the INDI sandbox, and discussion of future directions for INDI development. Presenters were Brad Westwood, Cory Nimer, and Gordon Daines.

This application has some of the same goals as other open-source archival management applications, such as Archon and the Archivist’s Toolkit — but with a stronger emphasis on workflow and project management. The application currently has no public interface and is intended for staff use (BYU special collections has a permanent staff of ~15+ and employs about 40 student assistants).

Modules that were described or demonstrated:

  • Contact management system is used to to track donors and creators; using a single tool for both creator management (authority control) and donor/contact management has been problematic.
  • Help feature has been useful to staff; includes both “application assistance” (how to do something) and “data entry assistance” (what information and in what format is appropriate for a given field). Usability testing showed that staff use latter more than former.
  • Desktop search tool; have been retrospectively entering accessioning data, so this can serve as “one stop searching” tool.
  • Project management (with e-mail feature that allows e-mail discussions that are preserved within the system, linked to the project/collection); this is one of the most robust areas of the application.
  • Appraisal; breaks down appraisal of potential purchases/donations into detailed tasks. Probably most useful for a repository with an active acquisitions program in many areas.
  • Accessioning; this has been useful because many of the accessioning steps are actually done by student assistants.

The project team has experienced issues because several different programmers have worked on the project which have had different approaches to documentation and varying programming styles. The BYU Library is currently evaluating how to proceed with the project — whether to continue to invest in programming or to migrate to another system. They are especially interested in a system being developed by/for the ICA (International Council on Archives).

Session 7: New Modes of Access: Challenges and Opportunities for Archival Collections
This session focused on the development/implementation of WorldCat Local at University of Washington Libraries. Presenters were Nicole Bouche (UW Special Collections); Jennifer Ward (Head of Web Services for UW Libraries) and Mela Kircher (OCLC).

The session especially focused on the impact of WorldCat Local on archives/special collections. Several issues that were raised are:

  • “duplicate” titles — “split” collections at different repositories that the WorldCat Local algorithm considers as different editions …
  • duplicate records for a record in WorldCat submitted by a repository and a record for the same collection submitted by NUCMC (which were previously only in RLIN … but are being migrated to WorldCat).
  • WorldCat local does not serve as a collection-management system … does work well as a “discovery” tool
  • very limited notes displayed

Future enhancements to WorldCat Local will be:

  • more articles metadata
  • branch scoping (driven off 4-character location codes)
  • simple language facets
  • additional fields displayed (this is especially important for notes fields in archival MARC records)
  • federated search (may be able to search NWDA finding aids database)
  • reviews
  • FRBR/editions display improvements
  • improved WorldCat account authentication
  • tagging
  • improved reports

Elizabeth Nielsen
OSU Archives

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