Archive Management System project update: April-May 2021

This is the final regular update about the Archive Management System project. The AMS project team benefited hugely by drawing on the expertise of many different teams across CUL. Staff in the Department of Archives and Modern Manuscripts pitched in to save the day at various stages by carrying out numerous checking tasks and a great deal of data cleansing. Thank you very much to everyone for their work, feedback and engagement! There will be updates about the Archive Management System in future, but it is expected that these will be less regular now that the project phase has finished.

  1. Project overview

The AMS Project Board met for the last time on 12 May and recommended formal closure of the project. Here is a summary of the key achievements of the project from October 2018-April 2021 and a reminder of the benefits.

1.1 Implementation of ArchivesSpace as an archive management system for CUL and participating Colleges/other institutions

Information is now available in one system and archival metadata can now be published on the AMS using a straightforward and quick mechanism.

The AMS provides a centralised service for the University of Cambridge and its partners. 33 repositories are signed up as full partners in the system.

Over 80 users have received training in using the system and an AMS User Group has been established to represent the University Library, Cambridge Assessment, Cambridge University Press and five of the colleges.

Documentation is available for users from the Cambridge Librarians’ site and is supplemented by documentation and resources available in the ArchivesSpace Help Center.

Benefits: Using current archival metadata standards supports data exchange with other systems: records are being shared from the AMS with iDiscover and work is progressing well on data sharing with ArchivesHub. By using a modern and supported archive management system, CUL and partner organisations have a sustainable basis to continue to attract external funding (i.e. from research councils, philanthropic organisations etc.) and donations of significant and valuable archival collections and to increase the efficiency of archival processes.

1.2 Implementation of a new discovery layer

ArchiveSearch provides access to metadata about archival collections plus convenient access to digital content (born-digital or digitised materials) and is supported by a LibGuide and demonstration video.

ArchiveSearch has been designed to meet the needs of users: these were which were identified through user experience interviews carried out as part of the project.

Benefit: This supports use of research resources in UK and international scholarship.

1.3 Migration of metadata

In all 876,759 records were migrated from 23 Cantab datasets, 2 AtoM datasets and a single bespoke system (Darbase) that had been used for the Charles Darwin archive. 

Benefit: The project has secured valuable metadata created by archivists across Cambridge over the past 20 years

2. Summary of project activity (March-April 2021)

2. 1 ArchiveSearch demonstration video

A new demonstration video is available that is linked to from the ArchiveSearch home page and from the ArchiveSearch LibGuide. This is a useful introduction to the system for new users.

2.2 ArchiveSearch Accessibility

The Library’s new Accessibility team have reviewed ArchiveSearch for accessibility: we have been able to make a few small improvements to increase accessibility, especially for people using screen readers. A statement on accessibility of ArchiveSearch will be added to the site very soon: for the moment we are linking to a generic accessibility statement from ArchivesSpace.

2.3 iDiscover

Published resource (top level) descriptions from most repositories using the Archive Management System are shared with iDiscover, so that information about archival collections held in Cambridge can be searched alongside information about hard copy and online resources available across Cambridge.

As part of the AMS project, pipelines were set up to take top level information from AtoM catalogues of archives held at Trinity College, St John’s College and Jesus College and make it available on iDiscover as an additional method for users to find information about archives held in Cambridge in one place.

To search for archives on iDiscover, use the Advanced Search option to limit your search to archival material.

3. Contact us

Please feel free to contact the members of the AMS User Group or email with comments and feedback about the system: it would be great to hear from you.

Natalie Adams and Katrina Dean

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