Time to Open Up! The Why and How of Opening Up Archival Finding Aids and the Unintended Consequences of Being Closed.
by: Merrilee Proffitt and Heather Briston
The core mission of most archival institutions includes the imperative to collect, preserve, and provide access to the collections in their care. One key method for enabling access is to describe each collection and its context in a finding aid. In an increasingly networked world, finding aids usually are accessible online to increase their visibility for discovery and meet basic institutional objectives. However, it’s no longer enough to make your descriptive data known only via a local site. Discovery potential expands greatly when finding aids are aggregated in regional, national, or subject-based discovery portals, such as the Online Archive of California, the UK Archives Hub, and OCLC’s ArchiveGrid. International archival consortia, aggregators, and cross-searching networks go a step further by hosting archival metadata across national boundaries. Similarly researchers who work in digital humanities, data science, and other disciplines may wish to use finding aids for experimental or scholarly purposes, creating new discovery pathways for others.
1. For more information on this group, please see the project page: https://www.oclc.org/research/themes/research-collections/finding-aid-metadata.html.
2. The EAD element pertains to the status of materials described by the finding aid. Ideally, the terms that pertain to the descriptive metadata could be expressed in both human language and in machine-readable form.
Suggested citation:Proffitt, Merrilee, and Heather Briston. 2016. “Time to Open Up! The Why and How of Opening Up Archival Finding Aids and the Unintended Consequences of Being Closed.” Archival Outlook March/April: 11.