Friday, November 4, 2016

The End is Just a New Beginning!

Greetings, all; as hard as it is to believe, the Bentley Historical Library's ArchivesSpace-Archivematica-DSpace Workflow Integration project has come to a close.

October 31 marked the end of two and a half years of intense planning, development, and testing but it also signaled the beginning of a new phase as we here at the University of Michigan begin to implement the project outcomes in a full production environment.

While this development work won't be available until version 1.6 of Archivematica (release date forthcoming), we wanted to take this opportunity to glance backward and also look ahead...

Project Outcomes

In our inaugural blog post back on April 8, 2015, we identified three major development objectives for the project:
1. Introduce functionality into Archivematica that will permit users to review, appraise, deaccession, and arrange content in a new "Appraisal and Arrangement" tab in the system dashboard.
2. Load (and create) ASpace archival object records in the Archivematica "Appraisal and Arrangement" tab and then drag and drop content onto the appropriate archival objects to define Submission Information Packages (SIPs) that will in turn be described as 'digital objects' in ASpace and deposited as discrete 'items' in DSpace.  This work will build upon the SIP Arrangement panel developed for Simon Fraser University and the Rockefeller Archives Center's Archivematica-Archivists' Toolkit integration (as demonstrated around the 12 minute point of the first video here).
3. Create new archival object and digital object records in ASpace and associate the latter with DSpace handles to provide URIs/'href' values for <dao> elements in exported EADs.

 I am extremely pleased to announce that we have achieved each of these outcomes in the development work that concluded on October 31.  More specifically, the project has resulted in:

1. The creation of a new Appraisal and Arrangement tab in Archivematica that will permit users to characterize, review, arrange, and describe digital archives with such features as:

  • Browsing the folder hierarchies of transfers in the "Backlog" pane.

  • Identifying file format distributions (in both tables and pie charts) and sensitive personal information (Social Security and Credit Card numbers) in the "Analysis" pane.

  • Displaying items in a "File List" pane, with contents updated based upon selections in the Backlog and Analysis panes.

  • Previewing content (using available web browser plugins) within the Analysis pane (with the ability to download and locally render other file types).

  • Tagging content (to aid in archival description, the identification of sensitive information, deaccession decisions, etc.) with the added ability to facet by tags in both the Backlog and File List panes.

Archivematica Appraisal and Arrangement Tab
What's in your transfer?

2. The integration of Archivematica and ArchivesSpace, so that users can:

  • Review, create, and edit archival description from ArchivesSpace directly within Archivematica (with information being written back to ASpace via its API) without having to switch between applications/browser windows.

  • Drag and drop content from the Backlog pane onto archival description in the ASpace pane, thereby associating data with metadata (and also establishing a Submission Information Package ready to undergo Archivematica's Ingest procedures).
  • Elect to use the ArchivesSpace functionality (or simply arrange content into Submission Information Packages without employing ASpace) whether or not they have a DSpace repository.
Associating digital content with archival description
Hey, you got your digital content in my archival description!

3. The integration of Archivematica and DSpace so that:

  • Users select a DSpace collection from available Storage Service locations during the 'Store AIP' microservice.

  • The Archivematica Storage Service splits the AIP into two archive files (one for the digital content, which will be publicly accessible by default, and the other for administrative metadata and log files, which will be restricted from public access by default) and automatically deposits them as a new item to the selected DSpace collection.

  • Upon successful deposit, a new digital object record (with the unique DSpace handle URL for the item) will be created in ASpace and associated with the appropriate archival object.
Content in DSpace
My repository has a first name, it's D-S-P-A-C-E...

4. Documentation related to the use of the Appraisal tab.

Max Eckard has produced a manual for use by the Bentley's archivists and student employees and he's looking to contribute to the documentation of the Appraisal tab in the Archivematica version 1.6 user manual.

Bentley Historical Library digital processing manual
It's just a jump to the left, and then a step to the right...

Because a (moving) image is worth a thousand words, I invite you to feast your eyes (and ears) on this rather brisk demo performed by Max:

Next Steps

As mentioned above, with the grant's conclusion we're moving forward with getting these new features implemented in a production environment.  This work is going to proceed on several fronts:

1. Configuring Archivematica to work with our local, highly customized version of DSpace ("Deep Blue").  

The developers at Artefactual Systems worked with an out-of-the-box copy of DSpace (version 5.5); UM's instance (around since 2006) has had a fair number of bells and whistles added to it over the years.  As a result, Max is spending a lot of quality time on Slack with colleagues in Michigan's Library Information Technology group.

2. Customizing metadata fields to be used in Deep Blue to accommodate our qualified Dublin Core (i.e., as opposed to dc.creator).

3. Establishing workflows to streamline the deposit of restricted content to the repository.

While our default workflow involves content that will be publicly accessible via DSpace, the Bentley also encounters a decent amount of material that must be restricted from the general public (due to sensitive information, regulations such as FERPA or HIPAA, donor requests, etc.) or that can only be accessed in our reading room (due to copyright issues).  We've established some semi-automated strategies for dealing with these materials and will look at trying to streamline this process.

4.  Identifying and addressing bugs in advance of going live (and the release of Archivemcatica 1.6 release).  

As we've been testing the Appraisal tab, we've reported a number of bugs to Artefactual Systems and also identified some enhancements related to local practice that we will contract with Artefactual Systems to address independently of our grant project.

5.  Training additional staff so that all of our processing archivists and graduate students are using Archivematica to arrange and describe digital archives in addition to their work with physical and analog materials.

Thank you!!!

Finally, we'd like to thank all the following organizations and individuals for their steadfast support and ample contributions to this project!
  • The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
    • Donald J. Waters, Senior Program Officer
    • Kristen C. Ratanatharathorn, Senior Program Associate
  • The Bentley Historical Library
    • Terrence J. McDonald, Director
    • Nancy Bartlett, Associate Director
    • Angela Clark, Business Administrator
    • Kellie Carpenter, Administrative Assistant
  • The University of Michigan Library
    • John Weise, Associate Director of Library IT and Head, Digital Library Platform & Services
    • Aaron Elkiss, Systems Programmer/Analyst Senior
    • Jose Blanco, Applications Programmer/Analyst Senior
  • Everyone at Artefactual Systems (especially Evelyn, Justin, Sarah, Nick, Holly, Dan, and Radda as well as Misty and Courtney)
  • The readers of this blog and everyone who reached out to us through comments, emails, tweets, and professional meetings. Thank you!!!!  Your questions, comments, and overall interest in the project were profoundly valuable!

We plan to continue blogging about our engagement with innovative archival practice and technology—so please continue to stop by to see what's new here on Beal Avenue.  Until next time, keep on keeping on!