At work, we’re just days away from replacing the software we’ve been using for the past 20 or so years with a new and improved system with all the modern bells and whistles: it can store digital objects, it will allow other authorized programs in our agency to log in and upload records, and the public can even search and view unrestricted electronic records through an integrated web portal.
That last component is likely of the greatest interest to readers of The Schedule. Without having even set up this software yet, I already predict that this is going to significantly increase the ability of the public to access our records. We will finally have a platform for hosting digital content in a meaningful, searchable way.
The tool provides the portal to the records, now all we have to do is…well…everything. Promotion. Digitization projects. Updating Archon with links. Online exhibit development. The list goes on.
This means that as the dust settles from the technical aspects of implementation, our path towards modernized access to our archives will just be beginning. In addition to providing access to digital objects, the website will also provide access to the metadata about physical collections that have not been digitized.
When I first decided to pursue a career in archives, I thought that my primary mission would be in preserving the past. I suppose at the core it still is, but I hadn’t realized then that a large part of preserving historic information for the ages would be analyzing current trends in an attempt to predict the future. How do our users expect to access our archives? And for what purpose? What do we need to do to keep up with the trends of how users want and expect to access information?
Hopefully some of these questions will be answered in future blog posts. For now, I am excited and hopeful for pursuing how records management software will allow us to provide better access to our archival holdings.