Building a National Archival Authorities Infrastructure

October 20, 2011

The University of Virginia Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities (IATH) and the Simmons College Graduate School of Library and Information Science are pleased to announce funding of Building a National Archival Authorities Infrastructure by the Institute for Museum and Library Services. Daniel Pitti (IATH) is director and Katherine Wisser (Simmons College) is co-director of this two-year initiative that will begin in October 2011.

Building a National Archival Authorities Infrastructure will engage in two activities that are intended to lead to the realization of a long-held desire of the American archival community: the implementation of archival authority control and description. The first activity will be devoted to increasing the archival community's expertise in the use of the recently released Encoded Archival Context-Corporate Bodies, Persons, and Families (EAC-CPF), the international encoding standard for archival authority control. The second activity will focus on a community-based exploration of the essential requirements for establishing a sustainable National Archival Authorities Cooperative (NAAC).

SAA EAC-CPF Workshops and Scholarships

To increase community understanding of and expertise in archival authority control, the Society of American Archivists (SAA) will offer seven regional professional training workshops in the use and implementation of EAC-CPF. Simmons College will offer twenty competitively awarded scholarships for each of the seven regional workshops, with a total of 140 scholarships to be awarded.

Katherine Wisser (Assistant Professor and Co-Director of the Archives/History Dual Degree Program at Simmons; and co-chair of the SAA TS-EAC) will administer the scholarship program and teach the seven regional workshops. The workshops are tentatively scheduled to begin in March of 2012 and end in the summer of 2013.

As the workshops are scheduled, SAA will make announcements on this and other lists. SAA will also post instructions on applying for the scholarships. Those interested in participating in the workshops should consult the SAA Continuing Education Calendar.

A National Archival Authorities Cooperative

In the spring of 2012, the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) will host a meeting of leaders in the archive, library, museum, scholarly, and funding communities to explore the feasibility of and essential business, governance, and technological requirements for establishing a sustainable National Archival Authorities Cooperative (NAAC). IATH will organize this meeting in collaboration with NARA. The purpose of this meeting will be to build support for NAAC, and to develop a rough consensus on the way forward.

Following this meeting, a small team of experts will focus on analyzing and developing the requirements for NAAC. While much of the work of the team of experts will be conducted via conference calls and email, the team will have two face-to-face meetings to review and develop the ideas that emerge into a blueprint for a national cooperative authorities program. This will be published as a white paper documenting the essential steps towards establishing a professional cooperative that can provide unprecedented integrated access to archival records held in government, business, and research archives in the United States and access to the social and professional networks within which the people documented in those records lived and worked.

The goal of Building a National Archival Authorities Infrastructure is to promulgate the use of EAC-CPF by increasing community awareness of its benefits and development of the professional skills necessary to employ it; and to lay the groundwork for establishing NAAC, so as to enable the professional community to build collaboratively an historical resource that will provide integrated access to and context for understanding the American record.