ArchivesSpace Members Forum

SAA 2017, Portland Oregon

July 25, 2017

By: Anne Marie Lyons

The third ArchivesSpace Members Forum was held on July 25, 2017, during the annual meeting of the Society of American Archivists, in Portland, Oregon. Dustin Stokes, Atlas Chief Technology Officer, Katie Gillespie, Aeon Implementation Consultant, and I attended the forum at Portland State University.


The meeting began with an update from the ArchivesSpace Program Manager, Christine Di Bella, during which she reviewed the year’s accomplishments with ArchivesSpace development.


Christine also discussed how much ArchivesSpace membership has grown, which is integral to the long-term development and sustainability of an open source program.


Christine ended her presentation with a list of goals that the program is working towards.


Next, Mark Custer from Yale University, and Susan Pyzynski from Harvard University, presented an overview of the new public user interface (PUI). Mark spoke about the history of the PUI development, which began in late 2014, and which incorporated a number of team members from different organizations.


Susan demonstrated a variety of new features of the PUI, including buttons for sending requests to Aeon and creating citations; expandable finding aids; and a customizable navigation bar to aid in researchers’ browsing and searching experiences.

Next, there were a variety of focus group presentations on such topics as redesign of the agents module and ArchivesSpace integrations with other applications. I attended the Staff Interface Enhancement Effort focus group, which is a long-term project that is being led by Lydia Tang at Michigan State University. Fellow attendees kick-started the project by submitting enhancement ideas in several categories, among which were navigation, accessibility, data entry and editing, and visual experience.


In the afternoon, I attended a workshop with Mark and Susan about rolling out the PUI. We studied the new interface in detail. It is quite a different look from the old interface. There is also different terminology on the new interface. For instance, published accession records are called ‘unprocessed materials,’ and categories are referred to as ‘record groups.’ I recommend that you consult the PUI pre-launch checklist here if you have plans to start using the new PUI.

Mark explained more complex details, such as the options for inheriting description down subordinate resource component levels, as well as options for customizing the PUI. For instance, some types of changes can be made in .config and .yml files, while other types can only be accomplished with plugins. And if you want to make any large-scale changes, then it’s probably best to load a copy of ArchivesSpace onto a development sandbox, where you can modify the staff interface, the PUI, and the behavior of the indexer.

The afternoon was closed out with a ‘lighting round’ session of tips, tricks, and ideas for working in ArchivesSpace. Presentations included creating easy custom reports with an ODBC link in Excel, improving student processing workflows, integrating with other applications, importing inventories into ArchivesSpace, and using staff user stories to implement an accessions workflow in ArchivesSpace.

The forum schedule, along with some recorded sessions, can be accessed here.