McDermott Library Special Collections and Archives Moving to the Cloud

The Eugene McDermott Library’s Special Collections and Archives Division is adopting a new management tool for archival collections that will help researchers find old manuscripts, photographs, magazines and other rare items faster and more efficiently.

Special Collections is moving its archival holdings, including all of its collections and University archives, to a next-generation, cloud-based archives information management system called ArchivesSpace. ArchivesSpace was developed by archivists for describing, managing and providing access to archives, manuscripts and digital objects and replaces Archon and Archivists’ Toolkit, which was formerly the leading application.

Like its predecessors Archivists’ Toolkit and Arcon, ArchivesSpace provides a database for creating and storing finding aids—a roadmap giving detailed descriptions of collections housed within the department. Unlike its predecessors, the new management system has a huge draw because it offers a public interface that allows users, not just Library archivists, access to all of the department’s finding aids.

“The ArchivesSpace public interface will significantly simplify our procedures for editing and publishing finding aids and will provide a much more powerful search and discovery tool for our patrons,” said Dr. Thomas Allen, curator and University Archivist.

“We’re very excited about this new management tool,” Patrizia Nava, Curator of Aviation Archives, said. “The search experience is much better. It’s nicer and cleaner and much more consumer-driven. It’s a one-stop shop tool because patrons can now search the entire archive. With the old system, you had to click on many different finding aids and do multiple searches to find an item. Each part of a collection has its own website, so it’s very convoluted.”

Lyrasis, the company hosting ArchivesSpace, has been working recently with the Library’s Operating Systems team to ensure the migration of its descriptions of archival holdings into the new software and the customization of the new public interface to ensure it conforms to UT Dallas’ brand standards.

The migration to ArchivesSpace will be apparent to Special Collections researchers because the software provides enhanced search functions and a cleaner display than the current collection database provides.

Special Collections at the McDermott Library joins hundreds of institutions that have adopted ArchivesSpace as it has been widely adopted for use by archivists recently across the country. The new system is expected to be up and running in the fall.

Page Last Updated: October 25, 2017