Practical Technology for Archives

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[Excerpt] Working with a multitude of digital tools is now a core part of an archivist’s skillset. We work with collection management systems, digital asset management systems, public access systems, ticketing or request systems, local databases, general web applications, and systems built on smaller systems linked through application programming interfaces (APIs). Over the past years, more and more of these applications have evolved to meet a variety of archival processes. We no longer expect a single tool to solve all our needs and embraced the “separation of concerns” design principle that smaller, problem-specific and modular systems are more effective than large monolithic tools that try to do everything. All of this has made the lives of archivists easier and empowered us to make our collections more accessible to our users.

Yet, this landscape can be difficult to manage. How do we get all of these systems that rely on different software and use data in different ways to talk to one another in ways that help, rather than hinder, our day to day tasks? How do we develop workflows that span these different tools while performing complex processes that are still compliant with archival theory and standards? How costly is it to maintain these relationships over time as our workflows evolve and grow? How do we make all these new methods simple and easy to learn for new professionals and keep archives from being even more esoteric?