CDL is excited to announce that we will soon be embarking on a collaborative planning initiative, in partnership with regional/statewide archival description aggregators, to explore a “next generation” finding aid network — one that which would continue to serve the statewide functions of the Online Archive of California (OAC), while potentially offering more extensible and broader discovery for archival materials.

Many archival description aggregators across the country, including the OAC, struggle to find sufficient resources to update their platforms and to engage with some of the most promising advances in archival description. By pooling resources and establishing co-development partnerships, we believe we can address this challenge collectively and, consequently, extend the capabilities, breadth, and depth of existing aggregations. Together we can provide users with more meaningful and richer access to archival records than any one of us can alone.

With crucial funding support by the US Institute of Museum and Library Services under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA), administered in California by the State Librarian, we will be embarking on a preliminary one-year collaborative planning initiative (October 2018 – September 2019) with the following key objectives:

  • Uncover and validate high-level stakeholder (archivists, researchers, etc.) requirements and needs for finding aid aggregations.
  • Identify key challenges facing finding aid aggregators.
  • Explore the possibilities of shared infrastructure and services among current finding aid aggregators, to test the theory that collaboration will benefit our organizations, our contributors, and our end users. If so, identify potential shared infrastructure and service models.
  • Determine if there is collective interest and capacity to collaborate on developing shared infrastructure.
  • Develop a concrete action plan for next steps, based on the shared needs, interests and available resources within the community of finding aid aggregators.

Developing a collective understanding of requirements and challenges is a necessary first step for establishing the trajectory of any future finding aid aggregation effort. 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.

Over the coming weeks, we will be posting additional information about the initial planning initiative to an online project workspace.