Archive Management System Project update: September 2020

This is a regular update on the Archive Management System (AMS) Project for September.  


This month the AMS project achieved a significant milestone when AtoM data from the University Library’s Department of Archives and Modern Manuscripts was successfully migrated to ArchivesSpace. As of 17 September, the system contained a total of 648,670 archival objects, of which 148,822 were migrated from AtoM and 486,180 were migrated from Cantab. There are 13,675 total resources (top level descriptions) of which 11,755 were migrated from AtoM and 1,813 were migrated from Cantab. This now accounts for the majority of legacy data which is planned for migration as part of the AMS project. It is also encouraging to see a steady increase in numbers of new records being added to the system (now totalling 107 resources and 13,668 archival objects) either from retro-converting old catalogues or new collection processing work. There was a 25% overall increase in the number of records added to the system this month.  

Work is currently underway publishing data: when completed this will enable users to access many previously unpublished catalogues and will represent a key achievement in delivering access to the University Library’s huge and varied archival collections. We are very grateful to all staff who have been involved in reviewing the migration and now in publishing the catalogues. Migrations of datasets belonging to external partners have also continued at a steady rate this month with datasets of Selwyn, St Edmund’s and Wolfson Colleges being added to ArchivesSpace this month. 

New plugin 

An enhancement was added for staff users of ArchivesSpace this month: the site now enables staff to “publish all” (and “unpublish all”) at all levels of an archival description (by default this is only possible at the top level of a description in ArchivesSpace). This was developed in response to feedback from users who were finding it laborious to work with large catalogues that can only be partly published.  

ArchivesSpace is open source software and ArchivesSpace users and members benefit from ArchivesSpace’s commitment to collaborative participation and open exchange of information and knowledge. Plugins developed by other organisations have been incorporated to improve the instance of ArchivesSpace used in Cambridge and we have made the new plugin available to the wider ArchivesSpace community as a download. It is also linked to from the Awesome ArchivesSpace list


The amount of data on the site has increased a great deal in recent weeks and this has had an impact on speed. Initial steps to improve response times have been taken and the site’s performance is being monitored to gather the information needed for further optimisation work. 

What’s up next? 

The AMS Project runs until the end of April 2021 and we have been reviewing priorities for the final phase. Work is planned on improving and refining ArchiveSearch (the public user interface) and creating documentation and a video for end users. We have been revisiting archivists’ requirements for the discovery interface as part of this element of the project. 

We are also developing documentation and procedures for CUL staff to capitalise on ArchivesSpace’s collection management features. Documentation about these features for users outside CUL is already available.  

We have also started to explore mechanisms for sharing published metadata and catalogues with data aggregators such as the ArchivesHub and TNA’s Discovery. For further information please contact <>

Natalie Adams and Katrina Dean

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