[Archivesspace_Users_Group] Managing media instances in collection

Allison-Bunnell, Jodi jodi.allisonbunnell at montana.edu
Mon Dec 13 18:57:45 EST 2021

Maureen, thank you!! This is exactly the framing problem/question I am pondering.

I’m intrigued by using subject/form-genre terms as an alternative approach. I’ll think on this.

Best, Jodi

Jodi Allison-Bunnell
(pronouns: She, her)
Head of Archives and Special Collections, University Archivist
Montana State University Library
jodi.allisonbunnell at montana.edu<mailto:jodi.allisonbunnell at montana.edu> ​

On Dec 13, 2021, at 10:42 AM, Maureen Cresci Callahan <mcallahan at smith.edu<mailto:mcallahan at smith.edu>> wrote:

Hi all,

I think that it's an under-theorized struggle in archival management to figure out how to describe and distinguish a container, a carrier, and an archival record, particularly when they all may have traits in common. In my career, I've had the experience of managing a number of systems migrations in and out of EAD, Archivists' Toolkit, and ArchivesSpace and integrating data across preservation, access, and circulation systems, and I've found that the biggest migration problems came from conflating or not appropriately distinguishing these different concepts! For whatever it's worth, here's my best thinking.

When I talk about a container, I mean the object that circulates -- the thing that someone pages and brings to the reading room or from the stacks or the warehouse. This is often a box, a volume, an oversize flat file, a microfilm reel, etc. Something to remember is that carriers can be moved to different containers! When I was working on the AT -> ASpace migration at Yale, I was working with a customized version of AT where folks had stored container type with the box number. So we had box types of "DVD case" for instance, but often found that archivists would (quite reasonably) put materials that best fit the box into that box even if the materials weren't DVDs -- a conflation of carrier and container that meant that we couldn't reliably use that data to do media surveys.

I tend to think that instead of associating carrier type with the container, it's actually an attribute of archival description -- something that tells you something important about the object which affects its characteristics as an archival record. There are affordances of a film that are different from a book, even if the creator and title and topic are the same. I think for description purposes (and for future migrations!) I would want to associate this kind of information with the archival object, instead of the container.

For your use case, Jodi, how about using form/genre subject terms, leveraging PBCore and additional vocabularies for computer media? When an archivist is doing description, she can associate the appropriate subject term with the item. For reporting purposes, you can search for and pull up archival objects that are associated with each subject term.

I hope that you'll share what you end up doing!!!


On Mon, Dec 13, 2021 at 12:22 PM Noah Huffman <noah.huffman at duke.edu<mailto:noah.huffman at duke.edu>> wrote:
Hi Jodi,

We also use a more-or-less locally-developed vocabulary / code list to identify format types. We have a short list of controlled container type values for broad categories of formats (boxes, videocassettes, film-reel, etc.), but more granular format information is communicated using format codes that we store as part of the item’s identifier in the container identifier field. So, in both cases we are storing the format information at the instance/container level and not necessarily at the archival object level. This has been helpful for reporting and for maintaining consistency across systems (many of these physical items are also represented as item records in our ILS).

Here’s a link to a Google sheet where we define the formats and corresponding format codes: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1NfbeugxEOuGI1YQcudWcQoMUU6UyhijZtirFPL0NcuE/edit?usp=sharing<https://nam10.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fdocs.google.com%2Fspreadsheets%2Fd%2F1NfbeugxEOuGI1YQcudWcQoMUU6UyhijZtirFPL0NcuE%2Fedit%3Fusp%3Dsharing&data=04%7C01%7Cjodi.allisonbunnell%40montana.edu%7Cac30b8c7d03d441d251f08d9be5fec1e%7C324aa97a03a644fc91e43846fbced113%7C0%7C0%7C637750141897136227%7CUnknown%7CTWFpbGZsb3d8eyJWIjoiMC4wLjAwMDAiLCJQIjoiV2luMzIiLCJBTiI6Ik1haWwiLCJXVCI6Mn0%3D%7C3000&sdata=As0MeEL9etVMQ2lWqIbytFE3o8nmpVOIbyG5NgPrnIk%3D&reserved=0>

Here’s an example finding aid where many of the item identifiers include format codes for various video formats (e.g. : RL11360-UMATIC-003): https://archives.lib.duke.edu/catalog/jwtdetroitav_aspace_536753340d54f53d8b3db51d8598c5d9<https://nam10.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=https%3A%2F%2Farchives.lib.duke.edu%2Fcatalog%2Fjwtdetroitav_aspace_536753340d54f53d8b3db51d8598c5d9&data=04%7C01%7Cjodi.allisonbunnell%40montana.edu%7Cac30b8c7d03d441d251f08d9be5fec1e%7C324aa97a03a644fc91e43846fbced113%7C0%7C0%7C637750141897136227%7CUnknown%7CTWFpbGZsb3d8eyJWIjoiMC4wLjAwMDAiLCJQIjoiV2luMzIiLCJBTiI6Ik1haWwiLCJXVCI6Mn0%3D%7C3000&sdata=34D5EJt92uGuKIUUmd5YrW0B22zcs5KQTXXiaG2RZoY%3D&reserved=0>

Again, this is locally-developed and not based on any external standard or vocabulary, but perhaps useful for reference.


Noah Huffman
Archivist for Metadata, Systems, and Digital Records
David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
Duke University | 919-660-5982
Pronouns: he / him / his

From: archivesspace_users_group-bounces at lyralists.lyrasis.org<mailto:archivesspace_users_group-bounces at lyralists.lyrasis.org> <archivesspace_users_group-bounces at lyralists.lyrasis.org<mailto:archivesspace_users_group-bounces at lyralists.lyrasis.org>> On Behalf Of Allison-Bunnell, Jodi
Sent: Monday, December 13, 2021 11:50 AM
To: Archivesspace Users Group <archivesspace_users_group at lyralists.lyrasis.org<mailto:archivesspace_users_group at lyralists.lyrasis.org>>
Subject: Re: [Archivesspace_Users_Group] Managing media instances in collection

Hello John:
Thank you, this is exactly the approach that I had in mind! I appreciate your reply very much.

So far you and one other institution have shared their internally developed CV lists…I’m hoping to find something more standardized, or drawn from a particular standard. Can you tell me anything more about what source(s) you used for this list?

Best, Jodi

Jodi Allison-Bunnell
(pronouns: She, her)
Head of Archives and Special Collections, University Archivist
Montana State University Library
jodi.allisonbunnell at montana.edu<mailto:jodi.allisonbunnell at montana.edu> ​

On Dec 13, 2021, at 6:39 AM, Rees, John (NIH/NLM) [E] <reesj at mail.nlm.nih.gov<mailto:reesj at mail.nlm.nih.gov>> wrote:

Hi Jodi,

We haven’t leveraged any national/international standards, but historically we use internally developed standardized language within folder title text to identify/highlight instances of non-paper formats within folders. I use these occasionally for kludgie searching exercises. We’ve started to better label these with ASpace container instance controlled values terms. We do similar for free-standing lose items on the shelf like film cans, artifacts. We’ve noticed a roughly similar pattern in use at Duke Rubenstein.

           *   3.5 computer disk
           *   5.25 computer disk
           *   8 computer disk
           *   35mm slides
           *   audio microcassette
           *   audio tape reel
           *   audiocassette
           *   Beta videocassette
           *   CD-ROM
           *   CD-RW
           *   computer tape
           *   DVD
           *   glass slides
           *   microscope slides
           *   negatives
           *   photographs
           *   U-Matic videocassette
           *   VHS videocassette
           *   video tape reel

Example folder title: "Arteriosclerosis and coronary disease" [audiocassette], Family Practice v.23, no.4, Nov. 24, 1975
In Aspace:



John P. Rees
Archivist and Digital Resources Manager
History of Medicine Division
National Library of Medicine
Teleworking M-F 8:00AM – 4:30PM Eastern Time each day until further notice

From: Allison-Bunnell, Jodi <jodi.allisonbunnell at montana.edu<mailto:jodi.allisonbunnell at montana.edu>>
Sent: Tuesday, December 7, 2021 8:09 PM
To: archivesspace_users_group at lyralists.lyrasis.org<mailto:archivesspace_users_group at lyralists.lyrasis.org>
Subject: [Archivesspace_Users_Group] Managing media instances in collection

A question of practice for your collected wisdom.

We would like to be able to pull a report for all media in our collections—audio, video, film, and digital (computer) media. I do not have access to custom reporting and would need to generate this from a standard report. We need to be able to audit by format (e.g. how many reel to reel tapes do we have? How many obsolete floppy discs do we have?) in order to identify vulnerable media and plan migrations.

Since the media is an instantiation of a described object, I’d like to be able to do this from a standard vocabulary in the instance/container type. It looks like PBcore would be a possible choice for the audio, video, and film, but I need a concise list of computer media. Neither DCMI formats nor MIME types fit the bill.

We do not have the resources to take an elaborate approach to this, and I (always!) want to use standardized practices rather than creating local ones whenever possible.

Does anyone have a practice that would fit the bill?

Best, Jodi

Jodi Allison-Bunnell
(pronouns: She, her)
Head of Archives and Special Collections, University Archivist
Montana State University Library
jodi.allisonbunnell at montana.edu<mailto:jodi.allisonbunnell at montana.edu> ​

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Maureen Cresci Callahan
Sophia Smith Collection Archivist
Smith College Special Collections
Northampton, Massachusetts 01063
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