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Toward a National Archival Finding Aid Network: planning initiative update and release of new report


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We are pleased to share the availability of a new report, “Finding Aid Aggregation at a Crossroads” (“Crossroads”): https://escholarship.org/uc/item/5sp13112


This report is a primary deliverable of the “Toward a National  Archival Finding Aid Network” project, a one-year (October 2018 –  September 2019) planning initiative convened by the California Digital  Library (CDL), with the participation of representatives from multiple  state and regional finding aid aggregations. The report provides a  survey of the current landscape of archival description — in particular, finding aid aggregations — and was developed to ground discussions of  how best to provide access to archival collections, ensure the long-term  sustainability of that access, and plan for future developments in this space.


Many archival description aggregators across the country struggle to  find sufficient resources to update their platforms and to engage with  some of the most promising advances in the field. With crucial funding support from the US Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS)  under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA),  administered in California by the State Librarian, the “Toward a National Archival Finding Aid Network” initiative aims to tackle these  challenges by exploring the creation of a national archival finding aid  network that could fundamentally transform the archival description landscape while continuing to serve the needs of aggregators and  archival repositories. By pooling resources and establishing  co-development partnerships, we believe we can address our individual  challenges collectively, thereby extending the capabilities, breadth,  and depth of existing aggregations.


The release of the “Crossroads” report, along with the related symposium  held in June of this year, represents significant progress towards  several of the planning initiative’s key objectives, including validating high-level requirements for finding aid aggregations.  Developing a collective understanding of the needs and challenges of  this domain is a necessary first step for establishing the trajectory of  any future finding aid aggregation effort.


This fall, we will be posting and sharing outcomes from the planning  project, including an action plan for next steps. We hope this planning  initiative will move us beyond that analysis to the common goal of

developing a robust, sustainable, shared infrastructure to leverage the  advances in archival description that promise to enhance research and  discovery in the future.


Please see the project wiki for more information.                 

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