[Archivesspace_Users_Group] shared top containers

Maureen Callahan mcallahan at smith.edu
Thu Mar 8 09:39:11 EST 2018

Hi folks,

Someone at another library reached out for advice about "sharing" top
containers across different resource records. I have a feeling that this
may be a common question, so I thought I would share my response.


Thanks for reaching out -- I know that ArchivesSpace adoption can be
complicated! Yes, one of the explicit requirements of the container
management model was to allow for shared containers. More information about
that work is here: https://guides.library.yale.edu/archivesspace/ASpaceCo

Here's how I think about it, which is helpful to me. Each top container has
its own record in the database, and can be linked to any resource,
accession, or archival object in your repository. In the same way that your
resource records can share subject headings, they can also share top
containers -- and in the same way that if you create a subject heading
once, you don't have to create it again, the same thing is true for when
you tell ArchivesSpace about a particular box on your shelf.

So let's say that you have decided that you're going to put all panoramic
photos, regardless of collection, in the same oversize box. The first time
you have a panoramic photo in a finding aid, you would create a top
container to assign it to. You can give it a container indicator (like "1"
or "Oversize 1" or whatever you want), a container profile (information
about the dimensions of the box itself, if you want) and a barcode. I am a
big fan of barcodes, because they help give every container a truly unique
indicator that you can then search by and retrieve.

I've created an example here: http://sandbox.archivesspace.org/resources/1#
tree::archival_object_11 . The credentials for the sandbox are admin/admin.

Now, you're working on a finding aid for another collection and you come
across another panoramic photograph and it lives in the same box as the one
you encountered before. This time, you create the archival object, and when
it's time to add a top container you go to "browse" instead of "create".
This gives you a search box. If your box has a barcode, you can just wand
that in and it's the easiest thing in the world. Otherwise, you will have
to do a search for other resource records that point to the shared box so
that you can find it and link to it.

I've created an example of the same top container in a second collection
here: http://sandbox.archivesspace.org/resources/2#tree::archival_object_12

Here, you can see the ways that ArchivesSpace tells you that these two
objects are in the same top container: http://sandbox.archivesspace.org/top_

And I think that's it!

Maureen Callahan
Sophia Smith Collection Archivist
Smith College Special Collections
Northampton, Massachusetts 01063
T. 413 585 2981 C. 215.863.1860
mcallahan at smith.edu

Pronouns: she/her/hers

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