[Archivesspace_Users_Group] Migrating and maintaining item-level records in ILS and/or ASpace

Bowers, Kate A. kate_bowers at harvard.edu
Fri Sep 15 11:17:31 EDT 2017

We also (rarely) provide MARC analytical records (single-level MARC descriptions for collection components) for items held within a collection when that collection is also represented in MARC with a collection-level record.  This is done chiefly in response to a public services request for more prominent discoverability in the online catalog for selected items.  Often, these items have fine-tuned subjects and authors that apply only to the component and not to the collection as a whole.

Due to the rarity of the situation, my instinct is that Option 2 (in-context multi-level description of these items maintained in  AS with additional single-level MARC descriptive records maintained in the ILS) is the currently workable solution.  .  In essence, this means there are two “databases of record,” which is clearly problematic, but seems workable at the low levels we have for MARC records like this.  (Our item-level image descriptions are another story.)

However I have some follow-up questions – and I’m hoping you are doing something brilliant

So, my questions—sorry I have so many!

1)      How rare is this situation for you?

2)      When you write “migration” do you mean that you will maintain all metadata in AS and not maintain data in the ILS at all? Will your “complex methods” mean that you can maintain data in the ILS and ingest it to AS, or do you think you can get good MARC from AS?  What would you do about things like alterative title tracings that are not possible in AS at all?

3)      Do you agree that AS often cannot parse data finely enough to produce MARC that meets the expectations of an ILS or of OCLC or takes advantage of a discovery layer’s faceting based on MARC subfield codes?   Is that OK in your institution?

4)      Do you use automated authority processing in your ILS? These and other scripted updates change our MARC records without specific alerts to us (so many I would not want to get such alerts!).  If AS is your database of record, won’t these updates to MARC be lost, and do you care if they are?

5)      For us, the most common example of an item-level description in an alternate system is not items in our ILS, but rather digitized images that are described both in SharedShelf and in a finding aid. I am hopeful that someday I will be able to use AS as the database of record for all of our in-collection item-level image descriptions in AS only while sharing them with SharedShelf automatically send updates from AS to SharedShelf.  Do you also have this situation?

Thanks for focusing on this issue. It is fascinating and thorny!


From: archivesspace_users_group-bounces at lyralists.lyrasis.org [mailto:archivesspace_users_group-bounces at lyralists.lyrasis.org] On Behalf Of Erin Faulder
Sent: Monday, September 11, 2017 2:31 PM
To: archivesspace_users_group at lyralists.lyrasis.org
Subject: [Archivesspace_Users_Group] Migrating and maintaining item-level records in ILS and/or ASpace

RMC at Cornell is in the weeds identifying bib records to migrate from our ILS into ASpace. Our practice, historically, has been to catalog collections and occasionally items within the collection in our ILS to better facilitate discovery. As we move into ASpace, we are cognizant that we should incorporate those item records within the context of the collection by including them as archival objects in ASpace under the appropriate resource record.

We have three primary choices to do this, each with serious trade offs:
-          Leaving the item-level records in our ILS without representing them in ASpace other than a referencing note at collection/series level
o   We would lose contextual meaning of those items
o   We would maintain item-level discovery of content in OCLC/World-Cat
o   We would be unable to manage our location data of that material in ASpace alongside the rest of the collection
-          Leave the item-level records in our ILS and represent them in ASpace in their appropriate intellectual arrangement
o   We would have to build a way to connect the records between the two systems, designing complex methods for synchronizing descriptive metadata as well as location data between systems and setting currently minimally-enforceable rules about where the data is updated and which is the system of record
o   We would maintain contextual information about their collection and have item-level discovery in OCLC/World-Cat
-          Represent the item-level records only in ASpace and remove them from the ILS entirely
o   We would only have to manage the data in one system, eliminating complexity
o   We would lose item-level discovery of content in OCLC/World-Cat
o   We could manage location data the same across our content

We would love to talk with anyone who has experience cataloging items in a collection at the item-level in their ILS and how they addressed the challenges presented when working with ASpace.


Erin Faulder
Digital Archivist
Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections
Cornell University Library
Ithaca, NY 14853
erin.faulder at cornell.edu<mailto:erin.faulder at cornell.edu>

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