Long-time users of Special Collections may be very familiar with our “A-Z List,” an alphabetical listing of all the archival finding aids and  other collection descriptions we have available online. It’s been growing by leaps and bounds over the years, and now includes more than 1,800 collections!

This fall semester, however, we’ll be retiring the A-Z list in favor of a more robust finding aid display system, ArchivesSpace, which will allow our researchers to search and browse our collection descriptions in new and more detailed ways. For those of you who’ve done research at other archival repositories, the interface will look familiar—ArchivesSpace is used by hundreds of other institutions, from Arkansas State University to Yale.

This change has been in the works for several years for us; in 2018, we began using ArchivesSpace’s staff interface as a way to internally manage our collection records, and Special Collections and Libraries staff have been hard at work encoding our older finding aids—many of which were previously only available in print form in our reading room—and importing them into the system so that they’re now searchable not only by keyword, but also by fields like date, subject, and creator.

Importantly, we’ll also be able to integrate ArchivesSpace with our new requesting system, Aeon, so that researchers can request materials directly from the collection description with the click of a button!

As with any new system, there will be some new things to learn, but Special Collections staff are happy to answer questions as you have them—we hope you’ll be as excited as we are to explore the new opportunities these changes present! We’ll also be developing resources with search tips and other useful information, and will be sharing those as we introduce the new platform on August 24.