Nancy Enneking, the Getty’s head of institutional archives, is contributing to the ArchivesSpace community, which develops and supports the leading open-source database system for archival material. As a member of the advisory council, training group, and reports generation team for ArchivesSpace, Nancy is currently working to assess issues with the ArchivesSpace tool, write user documentation and manuals, design reports to fill information gaps, and inform institutions of best practices for using the system.
ArchivesSpace is community-based software used by over 300 archival repositories, including the Getty Research Institute, to create finding aids (detailed inventories of archival collections) and set standards for these finding aids across institutions. Through ArchivesSpace, finding aids are exported as XML to be published on a variety of platforms or pulled by aggregators such as the Online Archive of California. It also tracks locations of materials, incoming acquisitions data, and the size of boxes to help manage physical collection space. ArchivesSpace is the leading tool for these tasks in the U.S., with institutional users ranging from major universities with dozens of active users to small historical societies with only one user.
ArchivesSpace is free to use, though full access to all of the documentation requires membership dues—assessed in proportion to an institution’s staff size—that keep the organization running. In addition, many in the archives community volunteer their time and expertise.
“For my entire professional career, I’ve been using tools and standards that enabled me to get work done consistently—and I didn’t have a hand in creating any of them. Other people who came before me volunteered their time to do this,” Nancy says. “Now I’m in a position where I can help create these tools and make improvements to standardize data. These tools didn’t exist when I started library school, and I think it’s fantastic they do now. I’m happy to help work on them and move the goal post. For me, it’s my way of paying back to those who came before me and allowed me to get to this point.”
As a member of the ArchivesSpace training and reports teams, Nancy seeks feedback from any ArchivesSpace user in order to improve the tool. Alongside the lead developer of ArchivesSpace, Laney McGlohon, Nancy will be leading a user group workshop on the tool’s reporting function, use cases, and user needs at an ArchivesSpace user day on July 25 during the Society of American Archivists’ annual meeting in Portland, Oregon. If you are an ArchivesSpace user and have feedback for Nancy, reach her by email, and say hi when you see her at SAA in Portland.