May 2023

Research Findings from the Building a National Finding Aid Network Project 

From 2020–2023, OCLC was a partner on Building a National Finding Aid Network (NAFAN), an IMLS-supported research and demonstration project to build the foundation for a national archival finding aid network to address the inconsistency and inequity of the current archival discovery landscape (LG-246349-OLS-20). The project was led by the California Digital Library (CDL), with partners at OCLC, the University of Virginia Library, Shift Collective, and Chain Bridge Group.  

OCLC led research for the project, undertaking an investigation of both end user and contributor needs in relation to finding aid aggregations, and an evaluation of the quality and consistency of existing EAD encoded finding aid data from regional archival aggregators.  

The NAFAN findings represent an unprecedented effort in research serving the archival community. This research provides valuable insight that can be used by the NAFAN project and inform other projects serving archival researchers and archivists, those wishing to leverage archival descriptive data, and researchers of archives and archival users for exploring new paths of inquiry for their own research.

Pop-up Survey Findings

by Lesley A. Langa, Chela Scott Weber, Lynn Silipigni Connaway

This report summarizes the findings from a national survey of more than 3300 end users searching for archival materials online. The survey captures data about search behavior and information needs along with demographic characteristics from a cross section of online users. 

All reports are available in the California Digital Library eScholarship repository.

Pop-up survey

Quick Links


Langa, Lesley A., Chela Scott Weber, and Lynn Silipigni Connaway. 2023. Pop-Up Survey: Findings from the Building a National Finding Aid Network Project. Dublin, OH: OCLC Research.  

This project was made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, through grant LG-246349-OLS-20. The IMLS is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s libraries and museums. To learn more, visit

OCLC Research