[Archivesspace_Users_Group] Digital objects

Callahan, Maureen maureen.callahan at yale.edu
Tue Feb 9 16:13:22 EST 2016

Hi Angela,

We’ve been talking a lot about digital objects too, so I’m happy to see this discussion.

My first take is that ArchivesSpace will definitely accommodate whichever way you want to go, but this seems to me to be more of a question governed by DACS principle 7.3 — "Information provided at each level of description must be appropriate to that level." We’ve been thinking of the archival object as the place where description happens, regardless of format, and as instances (container or DO) to be a pointer to the thing described. By this way of thinking, I would absolutely want to associate the digital object with the archival object describing it.

I can understand how the way ArchivesSpace currently displays this data could be confusing, but it’s important to remember that the decisions you make about structure and description will outlast decisions about display. I bet the folks working on the redesign for the public interface could address some of the display concerns you have.

I also think that if you take all of those digital objects and put them into one series-level bucket, it’s going to take a lot of work to sort out which lower-level components describe which digital objects. You may decide to do less granular description (for instance, only describe at the series level) and associate a bunch of containers and digital objects with that series, which could be great, but I don’t know if I would do granular description and then associate the actual stuff described therein at a higher level.

I’m eager to hear what others think.


On Feb 9, 2016, at 3:52 PM, Angela Kroeger <akroeger at unomaha.edu<mailto:akroeger at unomaha.edu>> wrote:

Greetings, fellow ArchivesSpacers,

We have a spreadsheet full of digital objects (streaming videos digitized from VHS) to add to a resource record. There appear to be two ways to add them to component view:

1) Add an item-level archival object, then add a digital object as an instance on that archival object. (One-to-one correspondence between archival objects/components and digital objects.)

2) Add the digital object directly as an instance of a series-level component. (End result will be many item-level digital objects attached to a series-level component.)

Some archival objects + digital objects were added to the record in a previous project. My director would prefer we do the new batch the second way, to eliminate a step, and then go back and convert those which were done the first way to match the second way. Part of the reasoning behind this is that having what appear to be two records (the archival object and the digital object) for the same thing seems to be confusing for some of our users.

However, when we have multiple digital objects with the same title (i.e.: University of Nebraska at Omaha vs. University of Nebraska at Kearney Football Game) that are differentiated by date, archival objects will show the dates under components, but digital objects will NOT show the dates under instances.


If you follow the above link, you'll see a dozen components, which are the archival objects added in the earlier project. There is one instance which I have added so far for this new project. You can see how helpful the dates are in the component list. If I convert those components to instances as my director asked, then we will have three digital objects titled "University of Nebraska at Omaha vs. University of Nebraska at Kearney Football Game" and no easy way to tell them apart without the dates. Once I add in the rest of the many, many digital objects to come, the problem will be compounded.

So my first question is, is there a setting or option to make the date (from the date subrecord in the digital object) display after the title in the link to the digital object record under instances? Otherwise, we may need to add the date to the title element itself.

Conversely, is there a compelling reason why we should continue doing things the old way, adding item-level components with one and only one digital object attached to each? Would having multiple item-level digital objects attached to a series-level component be likely to cause some problem down the road?

Thank you!

P.S. -- Peripherally related issue: When I try to add a digital object to a component, and I have to create a new digital object record uswing the “create” option right next to the input/search box, it won’t let me save the new record. I have to create the digital object record separately as a standalone, and then go into the component record and link to the digital object. When searching for the digital object from the component, that list of multiple digital objects with the same title makes it difficult. Having dates display here would also be helpful.

Angela Kroeger
akroeger at unomaha.edu<mailto:akroeger at unomaha.edu>
Archives and Special Collections Associate
Dr. C.C. and Mabel L. Criss Library
University of Nebraska at Omaha
(402) 554-4159

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