Defining the Problem
To date, significant work has been focused on cultivating a shared set of best practices pertaining to making copyrighted resources available online for research, study, and teaching. In related efforts, the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) and Europeana have led the way to promote broad and open use of metadata records for digital objects. However, there has been relatively little promotion pertaining to the parallel metadata records for collections: archival descriptive data.
This problem is acute to international archival consortia, aggregators, and cross-searching networks because they host archival metadata, aggregate archival metadata, and/or would like to facilitate use and reuse of finding aid metadata for research, mash-ups, and unanticipated creative purposes. This grassroots initiative to address this issue has been germinating through a series of informal discussions held at annual meetings of the Society of American Archivists (SAA) in recent years.
Devising a Solution
We began by convening a working group (listed at right) whose members have been in contact with archival authorities and associations internationally, such as SAA and the International Council of Archives (ICA). Our group aims to create a statement of principles or best practices that includes a scan of documented practices across cultural heritage institutions internationally. We plan to accomplish this by:
- articulating desirable methods for opening up metadata in finding aids (in forms such as EAD, PDF, HTML, etc.), and
Our first step is to find answers to the following questions:
- What can change practices?
- Who must be consulted and when?
- Who should draft a statement?
- Where should a statement be published, or under whose auspices?
- Who are the audiences: archivists, administrations, and/or parent institutions?
- How can the group enlist a groundswell of support?
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
Open Up Your Finding Aids
by Merrilee Proffitt
Allied Associations, Aggregators and Agencies
Support and guidance is critical for such an effort. Several of our working group members regularly act as liaisons with the following archival associations, aggregators and agencies to foster open channels of communication and recruit expertise throughout the project:
International Council on Archives: Experts Group on Archival Description (EGAD ICA)
International Council on Archives: Working Group for Intellectual Property (WGIP ICA)
Society of American Archivists, Encoded Archival Description (SAA EAD) Roundtable
Society of American Archivists, Intellectual Property Working Group (SAA IPWG)
Online Archive of California
California Digital Library
Data Services Coordinator
Digital Public Library of America
Liaison to SAA IPWG and WGIP ICA
The Archives Hub
Staff Liaison, Content Creation & Dissemination Program
Orbis Cascade Alliance
Liaison to SAA EAD Roundtable
Copyright Policy & Education Officer
California Digital Library
Département Information bibliographique et numérique (IBN)
Bibliothèque nationale de France
Liaison to Archives nationales de France
Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities
University of Virginia
Liaison to SNAC and EGAD
Director of Archival and Literary Research
University of Reading Library
Chair, International Council on Archives
Chair, WGIP ICA
Director, eScholarship Research Centre
The University of Melbourne
State Archivist, Manager, Tasmanian Archive & Heritage Office
Chair, Council of Australasian Archives and Recordkeeping Authorities (CAARA)