ArchivesSpace Repository Profile: Rockefeller Archive Center

Question responses were provided by Patrick Galligan, Assistant Digital Archivist at the Rockefeller Archive Center, in August 2016.

How did your assessment of collection management tools lead to your institution’s decision to implement ArchivesSpace?

I joined ArchivesSpace in 2013 and by that point we had already clearly decided to migrate to ArchivesSpace. We were/are charter members of ArchivesSpace, and are dedicated to open source software development, so we were supportive of the entire ArchivesSpace initiative. It was and still is our opinion that ArchivesSpace is the future of collections management systems for archives, and we knew that AT was not going to be supported anymore, so we chose to migrate all of our data.

What pre-installation/migration preparations were taken to facilitate implementation of ArchivesSpace?

We undertook obsessive migration testing which helped us identify a lot of our major data issues. We took this opportunity to clean up identified issues. We also set up two new virtual machines (one production and one development), scheduled daily backups, performed internal user experience testing, and also trained the entire staff on ArchivesSpace.

What degree of IT support was needed to install ArchivesSpace and/or migrate from an existing system into ArchivesSpace?

We relied on our internal sys admin to setup the virtual machines, which included spinning them up, installing MySQL, Java, and any other software we’d need. Otherwise, I installed ArchivesSpace, set up the config, and update it myself. I’d say I have an above-average familiarity with computer technology.

Please describe significant post-implementation challenges using the administrative and/or public interfaces.

We were fairly early adopters (version 1.1 of ArchivesSpace), so we ran into a few fairly large issues in the outset. I think the main frustration was that components of particularly large finding aids were sometimes rearranging themselves after saving a record. That issue has been largely fixed now.

Is your institution integrating ArchivesSpace with other collection management, preservation, or access systems?

Yes, we are currently integrating ArchivesSpace with Archivematica and our github repository.

In what ways has using ArchivesSpace been an improvement over your previous collection management tool or finding aid access strategy?

ArchivesSpace’s API has made it vastly superior for machine-actionable events. We no longer have to have someone manually export an EAD finding aid when we update something because we can run a script against the API to find the recently updated finding aids and export them from the backend. Furthermore, the API lets us to large-scale batch updates to our data; we wanted to change a lot of our Conditions Governing Access notes, and instead of changing them manually 1,000 times, we just ran one script. Overall, we’ve found that it’s just a lot easier to use the system.