ArchivesSpace Repository Profile: University of Michigan Library

Question responses were provided via the Repository Profile Form by Caitlin Wells, Collection Services Librarian at the University of Michigan Library October 31, 2018.


Tool and version, if applicable

ArchivesSpace, v. 2.4.1 and updating periodically

How did your institution select this archival collection management tool?

The department wanted to start using a collection management tool and ArchivesSpace was already in the works, so they began using Archivists Toolkit as sort of a training program until ArchivesSpace was ready to use.

When and why did you adopt this tool? What system did it replace (if any)?

ASpace was adopted around 2015, and it replaced a briefly used instance of Archivists Toolkit. 

Briefly explain how this tool functions at your institution (e.g. do you only use it for accessioning, or does it fill all the functions from accessioning to public access?)

We use it mostly for back-end work at the moment (accessioning, making finding aids, tracking digital objects, etc.). We're working on taking fuller advantage of the assessment and location modules, and in the future will probably check out the public user interface as well.

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

Honestly, don't know. It was before my time! But I know the department set up an AT instance several years before transitioning to ASpace so everyone would be more comfortable with the concept.

What degree of IT support was needed to implement and migrate into this tool?


Is your collection management tool hosted on-site and in-house or off-site by a vendor?

On-site and in-house

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

The biggest challenge has been exporting our accessions data from AT. For some reason, the plugin wasn't working correctly and IT is still working on it. Mostly, we're just trying to figure out how to get our large amount of legacy data in word documents, paper, spreadsheets, etc. into ASpace.

Is your institution integrating this tool with other automated request, preservation, or digital asset management systems?

Not yet, but would like to investigate integrating with Aeon.

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

It's great to have (or at least have the means to have) all of our archival collection information in one place! I like the location feature and the assessment module, and can't wait until we have enough data in the program to be up and running.

What is your most favorite feature of this tool?

I like that it's relatively easy to learn and makes it pretty foolproof for students and those with limited archival knowledge to enter data and create finding aids based on our documentation. 

What is your least favorite feature of this tool?

The staff interface! It's confusing, especially if you know anything about archives and want to try to get it to do anything different with EAD exports, MARC exports, etc. If you don't have access to or can't use the API, you're kind of stuck. There is also some "ASpace original" terminology that doesn't necessarily fit with how we describe material. Sometimes it takes a bit of hunting to figure out which field we actually want to use for which pieces of data.