Virginia Heritage ArchivesSpace Working Group
Several Virginia Heritage member institutions are already using ArchivesSpace or are in the process of moving to this archival management software. Other members of Virginia Heritage are interested in using ArchivesSpace but need additional support to implement the program. The Technical Team of Virginia Heritage established the Virginia Heritage ArchivesSpace Working Group in early 2017 to explore issues surrounding interest, production, and implementation of ArchivesSpace among member institutions and to create a report on the findings.
- Complete a survey of organizations to establish the status of use and interest in ArchivesSpace.
- For those member institutions already using ArchivesSpace, gather additional information about workflows and if/how finding aids or guides are going into Virginia Heritage, including, but not limited to:
- If guides are being added, how is it working/what is the process?
- If guides are not being added, why not/what are the complications?
- For member institutions who are interested in implementing ArchivesSpace, but are lacking support or resources, gather additional information about needs.
- Create a draft report including, but not limited to:
- Some practical next steps for member institutions interested in adopting ArchivesSpace.
- Some practical next steps for Virginia Heritage teams (Technology, Outreach, and Training) as to how they can aid current and potential adopters.
- Coordinate with the EAD3 Working Group to discern possible barriers to implementing ArchivesSpace or creating guides for Virginia Heritage while it remains non-compliant with EAD3.
Members of the Working Group collaborated to create a 19 question survey that was then emailed to Virginia Heritage member institutions. Of the 36 of institutions contacted, 23 took part in the survey.
The survey was divided into six sections. The first section described the purpose of the survey and collected the email address of the respondent. The second section asked respondents to describe the type, size and staffing levels of the different institutions belonging to Virginia Heritage. The next section focused on their familiarity with and interest in using ArchivesSpace. From this point the questions branched to the appropriate section depending on how participants answered the question “What are your institutional plans for using ArchivesSpace?”
The next goal of the survey was to determine how those members who were ArchivesSpace users integrated it into their accessioning, cataloging, and management processes. Institutions that were not interested in using ArchivesSpace were invited to explain reasons for their decision in section five. The last part of the survey asked questions about participation in Virginia Heritage and methods for creating the necessary EAD finding aids.
Basic Information about Survey Participants
- Of 23 respondents, 15 (65%) belonged to university or college libraries. The next largest group of responses 5 (22%) were from public library systems. The remaining institutions identified as museums and a government law library.
- The respondents comprised a range of institutions in terms of size and staffing, with a mix of full-time and part-time staff. (23 responses)
- When asked about the number of dedicated personnel for processing and descriptive work, 5 out of 23 indicated they had no dedicated staff members and 9 out of 23 indicated just one staff member. One institution had 13 staff members and the remainder indicated 2-4 dedicated staff members.
- Of 23 respondents, the great majority (87%) were somewhat or very familiar with ArchivesSpace.
- Out of 23 respondents, 9 (39%) were already using ArchivesSpace, 3 (13%) are in transition to ArchivesSpace currently, 2 (9%) plan to transition with the next year, and 3 (13%) plan to transition, but not for at least for another year. Six institutions (26%) have no plans to use ArchivesSpace at all.
Institutions already using or planning to use ArchivesSpace
- Of 17 respondents, most used or planned to use ArchivesSpace for accessioning and processing collections, creating finding aids, and creating EAD finding aids. Approximately half of respondents used, or planned to use it for creating MARC records and managing digital assets.
- Of 16 respondents, 75% planned to enter data into ArchivesSpace by a combination of imports from legacy systems (such as Archon, Archivists’ Toolkit, spreadsheets, etc.) and entering data from scratch from paper documents, while 19% planned to enter data from scratch only.
- Of 17 responses, three institution currently have an active public interface, but only one institution is actively using it. The remaining responses are split at 41% each between planning to use it and undecided.
- Of 17 respondents using ArchivesSpace, 9 (53%) of those institutions were members of ArchivesSpace.
- Those who were not members of ArchivesSpace (8 responses) cited cost most frequently as a reason for not joining or for being undecided. One also explained that their institution had sufficient technical support to make membership unnecessary. Another had support through membership with Lyrasis.
- Ten institutions responded to a question asking them to describe what actions Virginia Heritage could take to help them implement or better utilize ArchivesSpace. Their responses focused on better training and improved guidelines or documentation to assist in using ArchivesSpace. One expressed a wish to see Virginia Heritage make it easier to create finding aids in EAD.
If you do not plan on using the public interface why not? (1 response)
- Need to experiment with style sheets to make sure they match our website branding.
If you answered no, are you planning on using ArchivesSpace without membership support? If so, why? (8 responses)
- We are currently investigating AtoM and ArchivesSpace with a preference for the latter if we can afford the hosting, membership, and licensing fees.
- My institution hasn't committed to the funding yet.
- Cost was a partial factor for us--we have a small staff but are considered a large institution. Also, we felt that we have enough allies in VH with representation that we didn't feel we needed to compete for seats on boards. Plus, we really only have one staff person that would be most likely to get involved in at that level and there are plenty of other commitments to balance. Basically, after looking into the system and talking with IT (at the time, we had an IT person who had helped set up ASpace at a previous institution), we felt we could manage the system on our own. So far (16 months in), so good.
- I am unsure if I will be using ArchivesSpace but there was no place on this survey to indicate that. If we do decide to use it, I anticipate becoming a member.
- We're hosted by Lyrasis.
- We are probably going to begin by not becoming members but that may change once we get settle in using it and if we would actually benefit from the membership.
- Probably, due to cost concerns
Is there anything else you would like to share about how Virginia Heritage can help you implement or better utilize ArchivesSpace? (10 responses)
- I'd like to see examples of what other institutions are developing in terms of best practices for using AS, or if there are any overall guidelines we should follow. We're working on developing a comprehensive processing guide for our institution that includes documentation for using AS, and it would be helpful to see what kind of work others have done in this regard and if/how others are successfully depositing information from AS into VAH.
- Training is one factor cost-wise that will make a difference in our choice.
- Creating new stylesheets to apply to ArchivesSpace exported EAD.
- We are willing to help those looking to get on board with the system, to get finding aids from AS to VH, and to talk about generating EAC-CPF with anyone who has questions! I have documentation I can share, am happy to answer questions about our experiences, and liaise with the Technology Team, since we are already looking into the process of automating AS to VH EAD files.
- not at this time
- Help with instructions and/or training for exporting FA's into VH and MARC records.
- Update Virginia Heritage so I don't have to hand encode/edit every single finding aid. (Wishful thinking.)
Institutions with No Plans to Use Archives Space or that have not yet transitioned to it
- Of the 10 institutions that responded to this question, 6 (60%) said they were happy with their existing system. Other responses pointed to a lack of funding, not enough staff to manage ArchivesSpace, and limited time and technical support as barriers to implementation.
- Eight institutions listed either “insufficient staff to migrate data” or “no time to investigate” as reasons for not using ArchivesSpace, which prompted a question asking if they would be more interested in implementing ArchivesSpace if a Virginia Heritage member could offer mentorship. Four answered yes and two were maybes. The remaining were not interested or didn’t answer.
Finding Aids and Current ArchivesSpace Users
- Of 9 respondents, 7 said they were submitting EAD finding aids to Virginia Heritage.
- Those that were submitting finding aids to Virginia Heritage used a variety of methods, and 6 were using ArchivesSpace at some point in the process. One coded finding aids separately.
- One respondent who was not submitting finding aids to Virginia Heritage noted that they were waiting for new hires to assist. The second preferred to use their own website for finding aids and had stopping adding to Virginia Heritage.
- Of 9 respondents, 3 were definitely interested in assistance from other Virginia Heritage members with submitting EAD finding aids to Virginia Heritage or creating EAD-CPF records, while 4 were maybes. The remaining 2 were not interested in assistance.
If you answered yes, how are you creating the EAD finding aid? For example, are you exporting the EAD from ArchivesSpace and uploading it to Virginia Heritage or are you encoding the finding aid separately? (7 responses)
- plan to use AS going forward
- Encoding separately.
- Exporting EAD from ASpace
- Both. I'm exporting it from ArchivesSpace but manually editing it for validation and style changes.
- Exporting EAD from ASpace, making manual changes, and uploading to VH.
- Exporting XML from ASpace, editing/hand encoding in Oxygen, and uploading to Virginia Heritage.
- Both. We've just begun testing exporting EAD from ArchivesSpace; have some legacy guides from Notetab
If you answered no, why are you not submitting EAD finding aids to Virginia Heritage? (2 responses)
- On the workflow but waiting for new staff assistance to complete
- We stop submitting in 2010. Have our own website
The ArchivesSpace Working Group reports to the Technical Team of Virginia Heritage. The working group will collaborate with the Technical Team and the EAD3 Working Group as needed.
- ArchivesSpace is familiar to many of the institutions participating in Virginia Heritage and there is interest in using its capabilities and upgrading legacy systems.
- The most significant barriers to using ArchivesSpace are cost and staffing. It is clear that having enough staff dedicated to processing and descriptive work is more luxury than routine.
- Overall, there is strong interest in establishing training for ArchivesSpace as well as clear consistent guidelines and best practices for using ArchivesSpace with Virginia Heritage.
- There is a need to collaborate with the Technical Team of Virginia Heritage and the EAD3 working group to establish training and best practices.
- With one institution already using their own website instead of Virginia Heritage, and almost half of the respondents currently or planning to use the ArchivesSpace public interface, Virginia Heritage should recognize that more institutions may choose to utilize ArchivesSpace as their only finding aid access point, especially if importing guides from ArchivesSpace to Virginia Heritage continues to require manual coding work. It is recommended that options for harvesting and ingesting finding aids from those institutions with ArchivesSpace be examined as this would eliminate the extra step of uploading guides to Virginia Heritage.
Virginia Heritage Archives Space Working Group
Liz Beckman, George Mason University
Tracy Harter, Library of Virginia
Margaret Kidd, Virginia Commonwealth University
Lorna Loring, Stewart Bell Jr. Archives, Handley Regional Library
Christina Luers, College of William and Mary
Courtney Tkacz, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
Elizabeth Wilkinson, University of Virginia
APPENDIX: SURVEY QUESTIONS
Section 1, Introduction:
The purpose of this survey is to collect information about whether Virginia Heritage institutions are using ArchivesSpace or are planning to use it. This will help us determine what type of support Virginia Heritage can offer for those using ArchivesSpace to create EAD finding aids.
Q1: email address
Section 2, Basic Information:
Q2: What kind of institution does your repository belong to?
- Community college
- Historical society
- Public library system
- University or college
Q3: How many full-time staff members do you have in your repository?
Q4: How many part-time staff members do you have in your repository?
Q5: Of all the staff you have, how many are dedicated to processing/descriptive work?
Section 3, ArchivesSpace:
Q5: How familiar are you with ArchivesSpace archival management software?
Q6: What are your institutional plans for using ArchivesSpace?
- Already using it
- In transition currently
- Plan to transition within the year
- Plan to transition, but not for at least another year
- No plans to use it
Section 4, Currently using or planning to use ArchivesSpace
(Branch section - for those who answered they are using or plan to use ArchivesSpace)
Q7: For what functions do you plan on using ArchivesSpace? (Select all that apply)
- Accessioning and managing collections
- Creating finding aids
- Creating EAD finding aids
- Creating MARC records
- Managing digital objects
Q8: How do you plan to enter data into ArchivesSpace?
- Importing legacy data from other systems (e.g. from Archivists’ Toolkit, Archon, spreadsheet, etc.)
- Entering data from scratch from paper documents
Q9: Are you currently using the public interface for ArchivesSpace (or plan to use it)?
- Yes, currently using the public interface
- Not currently using the public interface, but plan to
- No, not using it and no plan to
Q10: If you do not plan on using the public interface why not?
Q11: Are you an institutional member of ArchivesSpace?
Q12: If you answered no, are you planning on using ArchivesSpace without membership support? If so, why?
Q13: Is there anything else you would like to share about how Virginia Heritage can help you implement or better utilize ArchivesSpace?
Section 5: No plans to use ArchivesSpace
(Branch section - for those who do not plan to use ArchivesSpace or will not transition for at least another year)
Q14: If you are not planning to use ArchivesSpace, what is the reason? (Check all that apply)
- Insufficient funding
- Insufficient staff to migrate data
- Insufficient staff to input new data
- No time to investigate
- No one to train staff
- Limited or no IT support
- Current system suits our needs
Q15: If you checked “insufficient staff to migrate data” or “no time to investigate,” would you be interested in being mentored in that process from someone else in Virginia Heritage?
Section 6: Finding aids and current ArchivesSpace users
(Branch section - for those who stated they are currently using ArchivesSpace)
Q16: Is your institution currently submitting EAD finding aids to Virginia Heritage?
Q17: If you answered yes, how are you creating the EAD finding aid? For example, are you exporting the EAD from ArchivesSpace and uploading it to Virginia Heritage or are you encoding the finding aid separately?
Q18: If you answered no, why are you not submitting EAD finding aids to Virginia Heritage?
Q19: Would you be interested in assistance from other Virginia Heritage members with submitting EAD finding aids to Virginia Heritage or creating EAD-CPF records?