The Archivists' Toolkit

The University of California, San Diego Libraries and the New York University Libraries, working together with the Five Colleges Libraries, have been awarded a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support development and implementation of the Archivists’ Toolkit. A website for the project is located at: .

The Toolkit will be a suite of open source software tools for processing and managing archival information. Its objective is to decrease the time and cost associated with archival processing and to promote the standardization of archival information. Early implementation of the Toolkit will focus on small to medium-sized repositories for which resources and staffing are comparatively limited.

The Archivists’ Toolkit will address and integrate a broad range of archival functions; it will provide a single, consistent, and reliable tool for managing collection processing, accessioning, description, resource location, and provenance registration. In addition, the Toolkit will provide the archivist with a variety of outputs, including EAD (Encoded Archival Description) encoded finding aids and METS (Metadata Encoding and Transmission Standard) records. Automating such outputs will considerably lessen the cost now expended on producing them.

Currently, there is nothing akin to a library management system tailored to the needs of archival repositories, nor is it feasible for many archives to keep up to date with today’s evolving and complex metadata standards. This is especially true for smaller repositories which, while small, nevertheless hold important collections that may be relatively invisible to the research community. The Toolkit will empower archives, small and large, by providing them with the tools for more easily establishing their presence on the Web and for sharing information on their holdings with other repositories and union catalogs.

To ensure the development of a truly comprehensive software tool, the Archivists’ Toolkit will be developed with the input of seventeen archival repositories that represent a broad range of workflows, sizes, materials, staffing, and resources. The repositories participating in the project are: in New York City – The American Museum of Natural History, The Brooklyn Museum of Art, Carnegie Hall Archive, The Center for Jewish History, Manhattan College, and NYU’s Fales Library & Special Collections, University Archives, and Tamiment Library & Wagner Labor Archive; in western Massachusetts – Amherst College Archives and Special Collections, Hampshire College Archives, Mount Holyoke College Archives and Special Collections, Smith College Archives, Sophia Smith Collection, Smith College, and University of Massachusetts Amherst, Special Collections and Archives; in southern California – UCSD’s Mandeville Special Collections Library and Scripps Institution of Oceanography Archives

The $847,000 awarded by the Mellon Foundation will support the first two-year phase of the project. Project management will be based in the UCSD Libraries. Software development will take place at NYU, in collaboration with a design team comprising staff from the UCSD, NYU, and Five Colleges Libraries. In addition, a project oversight committee and an advisory board have been established to ensure standards compliance and superior design, and to foster widespread adoption of the Toolkit. Members of the advisory board include: Robin Chandler (California Digital Library), Michael Fox (Minnesota Historical Society), Lee Mandell (Harvard University), Guenter Waibel (Research Libraries Group), and Beth Yakel (University of Michigan).

Institutional Partners:

UCSD Libraries
The UCSD Libraries (, the project’s lead institution, have emerged in their short history as leaders in library technology and the development of digital library collections and services. The Libraries have an extensive information technology staff that has acquired substantial experience in designing library databases. The UCSD Libraries, with funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, have been designing a prototype Union Catalog for Art Images (UCAI), a project aimed at developing national-level cataloging practices and efficiencies for image collections. One of only eighteen NSF National Science Digital Library awardees in 2002, the UCSD Libraries worked in close collaboration with the San Diego Supercomputer Center and Scripps Institution of Oceanography to develop the SIO Explorer, a portal to SIO expedition discoveries ( Working with the same partners, plus the San Diego Historical Society, the Libraries also have developed a related digital library, California Explores the Ocean (

New York University Libraries

New York University Libraries ( has established itself as one of the leaders in digital library technology. As a partner in the Digital Library Federation, NYU Libraries has taken a lead role in the creation of the METS metadata standard. Its special collections have played an active role in the implementation of EAD standards for primary source materials. NYU has been named as a Sun Center of Excellence for Digital Libraries and was a finalist in the 2003 Computer World Honors program. The NYU Digital Library Team also has significant experience in partnering with other institutions to advance both the creation of scholarly resources and the development of digital library technologies. The Libraries recently completed a project to explore web archiving with the Center for Research Libraries, and are continuing to collaborate with other institutions in the development of tools and methods. They are also collaborating with New World Records to create the Database of Recorded American Music, a large database of sound recordings, and deliver it to academic institutions; and in that context they are partnering with Dartmouth and Indiana Universities in enabling shibboleth authorization over Internet2 connections to the database.

Five Colleges, Inc.

Five Colleges, Inc. ( is a consortium comprising Amherst College, Hampshire College, Mount Holyoke College, Smith College, and the University of Massachusetts Amherst-all located in western Massachusetts. The Five College Libraries have been in the forefront of promoting collaboration among the schools for more than three decades, even before the consortium was established. The Libraries’ cooperative activities include a joint online catalog, shared borrowing privileges, complementary collection development and management, and the Five College Library Depository, a high-density storage facility for the lesser-used materials from the libraries. The archivists of the Five Colleges also share a long cooperative history, most recently working together in joint digitization and EAD encoding projects. Together, the archives and special collections repositories of the Five Colleges provide a conveniently located, rich opportunity for testing the ability of an Archivists Toolkit to accommodate a range of institutional processing practices and staffing patterns.

Source: EXLIBRIS list

Autor: Klaus Graf

Historiker und Archivar, Blogger

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