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.