Making it work – Understanding and expanding the utility of archivesspace

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Content management systems provide bountiful opportunities for innovation within the standard frameworks of archival management. This article presents an opportunity for an in-depth survey and quantitative analysis of 103 member institutions’ implementation processes and uses of ArchivesSpace.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)35-54
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Archival Organization
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Apr 3 2017

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
However, in 2009, with the merger of two of the most popular open source software options (Archon and Archivists Toolkit) to create ArchivesSpace, it seemed that there might be a clear winner in terms of developing a best practice in content management solutions. ArchivesSpace is the result of a collaboration between major institutional players involved with Archon and Archivists Toolkit (the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Libraries, New York University Libraries, and the University of California San Diego Libraries) and was funded by an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation grant. The ArchivesSpace project was originally intended to fill in functionality gaps identified with Archon and Archivists Toolkit. Both Archon and Archivists Toolkit were originally developed with grant funding and institutional support that was starting to run low as the products became ever more popular and scalability became a massive issue. Due to the products’ popularity, support needs, customization requests, and collaborations were demanding far more resources than those allotted under original grant applications. As noted by Schaefer in Matienzo and Kott’s essay, “The purpose of the project is to develop a next-generation open source archives management system to address technical limitations of AT [Archivists Toolkit] and Archon, including scalability and extensibility.” In addition, a unified product should encourage a wider rate of adoption than has been feasible with the two complementary products. Building a strong user base is essential for any open source project, but to succeed in the small archival market, AT, and by logical extension any product aimed at the archives management and access market, would need to be the “dominating force.”9,10 Drawing on their previous experience with successful grant writing, the partners sought an organizational home post Mellon grant that would give them the resources to manage ongoing development and support issues for ArchivesSpace. After much deliberation, the partners chose LYRASIS as the product manager. As the largest membership organization serving libraries and information professionals in the United States, LYRASIS was well positioned to ensure ongoing development of the product and responsiveness to the support needs of its customer base. Since its adoption by LYRASIS, the ArchivesSpace user community has grown dramatically. As of 13 January 2018, the community numbers over 300 institutions from around the world, which suggests that ArchivesSpace has a strong lead on other open-source archival content management systems.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Rebecca Toov and Amanda Wick.

Copyright 2019 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Archival arrangement
  • Archival description
  • Archival processing
  • Archival records access
  • Archives Space
  • Archives collection management
  • Content management systems
  • Project management
  • Qualitative data
  • Quantitative data
  • Search
  • Survey


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