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Do you use Android or Apple for your electronic ecosystem? When upgrading to a smart phone, I had a difficult time choosing which environment to virtually live in. I own a Mac, but use an IBM at work. I love the design and utility of Apple products, but use my Google account as if it were my personal assistant. My thinking was: If I am going to invest my time and money in this electronic world, I want to make sure what I get makes sense with all the other electronic stuff that I use on a daily basis, so that it’s useful and productive instead of time-consuming and frustrating. I’m an Android … I mean, I own an Android (a couple, actually). But the decision wasn’t obvious or easy to come by. Mainly because neither would have been a bad choice. (Sorry, Windows, you never made the running).
This is similar to the way we felt here at the AMNH Library about ArchivesSpace and AtoM. The two are solidly comparable content management systems for archives, but different flavors. In testing, they both met our basic requirements for creating, managing, and publishing finding aids; they just handled them differently. In terms of cost-efficiency, both are open-source applications freely available to use, but support and/or customization have a price tag. We preferred the look and feel of AtoM over ArchivesSpace, but ASpace was easier to navigate and made sense to those of us who were already familiar with Archivists’ Toolkit. AtoM was developed by Artefactual Systems (also behind Archivematica and Binder); ArchivesSpace boasts a large U.S. membership base whose many charter members include the Smithsonian, Yale, Harvard, and NYPL. Are you following me on this see-saw?
Well, the devil is in the details, as they say. And as the Metadata Analyst on this project, I was very eager to investigate the details behind the details. We chose ArchivesSpace for those who wish to skip the rest.
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Allow me to be blunt – there is no efficient way to import finding aids created and saved as Microsoft Word documents into Archivists’ Toolkit without the painstaking exercise of copying and pasting lines of data into individual database cells. For the past eighteen months, we have been writing finding aids for the archival collections in the Library thanks to the CLIR grant. Twenty one finding aids have been completed and reviewed. The final Word documents, once approved, are entered into the Toolkit, as mentioned, by copying and pasting data. It can be a slow and tedious process, especially when dealing with numerous subject headings and name entities. Entering lengthy container lists is even more dreary – dates must be input into multiple cells, a simple box and folder enumeration containing only two numbers is seven clicks from completion. Not the best use of anyone’s time. Not to mention the probability for error! When your eyes are glazed over from transferring data piece-meal for hours, a “7” could easily look like a “1”.
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Over the past year, we have been gathering descriptive data in spreadsheets for archival collections in the Library and Science Departments. Collection records are then converted into MARC and batchloaded into the catalog. EAD-encoded collection-level finding aids will also be generated using Archivists’ Toolkit. The ultimate goal is to publish catalog records and finding aids on the web for resource discovery. (You may be asking yourself) what in the world does all this mean? Here, let me illustrate the journey of data in this colorful, and hopefully more intelligible flowchart. Click here for a PDF. And look for links to handy guidelines!
TagsAinu AMNH library catalog Anthropology Archives Archbold Archival Arrangement archives Authority Names CAT Cataloging CLIR 2010 clir 2012 Correspondence Crocker Land Department of Preparation and Installation Department Records EAC-CPF expeditions Fall 2011 Field Notes Finding Aid finding aids Hayden Planetarium Herpetology Archives hidden connections IMLS LARA linked data Mammalogy Archives Manuscript Collection Museum History Non-Curatorial Field Notes Ornithology Archives Paleontology Archives Phase 2 photographs Photo Print Collection Processing Research Library Risk Assessment Slide Collection Spring 2011 Spring 2012 Summer 2011 Summer 2012 T. Don Carter
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