One of the NGTS initiatives has been the systemwide deployment of Archivists’ Toolkit (AT) to support efficient processing, description and overall management of archival collections.
Archivists’ Toolkit Is Largely Deployed
Power of Three (POT) group 3 was charged with developing an implementation plan. Over the winter, a lightning team conducted an assessment of usage and needs within special collections and archives in the UC libraries. To date, eight of the ten UC Libraries have deployed or are currently using the AT. Out of the eight, two (UC Merced and UC San Francisco) are using the California Digital Library’s (CDL) hosted service; the rest have implemented a locally-hosted instance. UC Santa Cruz is planning to implement AT. UC Berkeley Bancroft Library is currently utilizing local systems that are already tailored to collection management and processing workflows.
The team estimates that costs for hosting the Toolkit are relatively low. In addition to the hardware and material costs of hosting the open-source software and back-end SQL database, initial set-up and configuration require fairly minimal IT personnel time. The ongoing maintenance cost is marginal, but the team suggests that costs would incrementally rise to accommodate upgrades, migrations, and release packages.
Given that upfront costs for the locally-hosted instances have already been encumbered, the team does not believe there are significant cost savings for institutions to embark on migrating from existing locally-hosted instances to the CDL service. Nonetheless, the team was able to demonstrate that such a migration would be relatively simple. The CDL service, which currently supports 33 institutions, manages software updates, maintenance, and data recovery processes.
Recommendations: Support Effective Use and Best Practices
In lieu of a deployment and implementation plan, the team identified a need for greater emphasis on the coordination of best practices and use of the application by campuses that have already implemented or plan to implement it in the near-term. Two recommendations to support more effective use of AT throughout the system are:
- Constitute a special interest all-campus library group of knowledgeable users from across the campuses (“UC AT User Group”), to facilitate sharing of expertise and support of the application, and
- Support in-person, multi-day, highly customized”train the trainer” workshops in the north and south targeted to UC-specific needs, to cultivate the formation of a cross-campus expert user community.
The UC AT User Group would serve as a locus for collaboration, where participants could share information and expertise, exchange solutions and techniques, and cultivate best practices. In addition, the group would be poised to conduct early testing of the forthcoming ArchivesSpace software.
Training was cited as a key need, based on the team’s assessment work. While there are existing training options for AT users, a “train the trainer” approach offers a number of advantages to those options, where attendees could serve as local expert users and training resources for their local campus processing staff.
Pending management approval, the team expects to form the UC AT User Group this summer and to conduct the training workshops in summer/fall of 2012.