[Archivesspace_Users_Group] Agents with topical (or other) subdivisions in ASpace

Matthew J Gorzalski mGorzalski at lib.siu.edu
Tue Aug 11 16:20:53 EDT 2015

Are you an Archon user?  We have related agent problems coming from Archon to ASpace.  Our test migrations show that any collection that has a corporate/personal name as both the creator and as a subject will migrate BOTH into ASpace under the agent field with NO distinction between creator and subject.  Our example is an artificial collection called Morris Library Photograph Collection where Morris Library is both creator and subject.  In Archon you can clearly distinguish between these two roles because Creators and Subjects are separate sections.  But in ArchivesSpace they are both lumped into Agents and given that generic non-descript person icon.  So it is confusing for researchers to see two Morris Library entries under Agents because their roles are not distinguished.  This same public interface design flaw works the same for any collection using a name as subject and creator.

Mat Gorzalski
SIU Carbondale

From: archivesspace_users_group-bounces at lyralists.lyrasis.org [mailto:archivesspace_users_group-bounces at lyralists.lyrasis.org] On Behalf Of Max Eckard
Sent: Tuesday, August 11, 2015 2:45 PM
To: Archivesspace Users Group <archivesspace_users_group at lyralists.lyrasis.org>
Subject: [Archivesspace_Users_Group] Agents with topical (or other) subdivisions in ASpace

Hello ASpacers!

We've been working on importing agents into ArchivesSpace, but have run into an issue. As an example, we have a number of <corpname> elements that are subdivided with topical subjects, like so:

  *   University of Michigan--Students--Political activity.
  *   University of Michigan--Faculty.
  *   American Brass Company--Strikes.
The issue we've encountered is that there is no space in ASpace for agents that are subdivided in this way. Note: we are not talking about agents with primary and subordinate names (with periods in between them)--ASpace handles these just fine! We've been thinking about a number of ways to handle this:

  1.  We could divide up these terms so that the first term gets imported as an agent (in the examples above, corporate entity) and the rest of the term gets imported as a subject (or a subdivided subject). We've experimented a little with this here<https://github.com/bentley-historical-library/vandura/compare/master...eckardm:master>. The problem with this approach is that subdividing names/agents is a longstanding practice here (and totally acceptable in MARC), and making a change like this would require making an even (arguably) bigger change to descriptive practices here and cause issues with exporting MARC records from ASpace.
  2.  We could just leave the whole string, dash dashes and all, as the primary form of name. This could work, but it seems inelegant, since each variation would be imported as a new agent, even though we're only referring to one.
  3.  We could change these to subjects, but that doesn't seem quite right either, since agents can have the role of subject.
We've been trying to consider all angles, including what affect a change like this could have on researcher searching and browsing. Now we're wondering what you all do. Do you have subdivided agents (<corpname>s, <famname>s and <persname>s)? If so, how have you imported these into ASpace?

Thank you for your time!


Max Eckard
Assistant Archivist for Digital Curation

Bentley Historical Library
1150 Beal Ave.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-2113
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