[Archivesspace_Users_Group] Managing Unique Top Containers

Hand, Sarit shand at ap.org
Wed Aug 2 11:10:26 EDT 2023


We have similar scenarios.
Because you can create multiple top containers with the same indicator without getting an error, items in collections were randomly labeled with different top containers but with the same indicator. That’s been an ongoing clean up job.

To alleviate this, I did not create complex top container names because our physical boxes already had labels with their box indicators which were simple digits, 1, 2,3 or even 01, 02 03, etc. (also not consistent); instead, I used the barcode field and put the collection, series, and box info there. We were not using barcodes at the time. It helped immensely since that meant I did not have to relabel the physical boxes with new box numbers etc. but allowed be to distinguish between Box 1 for series 1 and Box 1 for series 2 and so on.

However, we just started using barcodes, which in effect will still help to distinguish the separate top containers, just won’t have the collection data in there. The downside of creating Box indicators and/or barcodes using collection data is if you must store content from multiple resources in the same top container then the data will not make sense. The downside of using generic barcode numbers is that it is not informative, its just a random set of characters.

Bottom line, I use the barcode field to distinguish top containers with the same indicator in a resource whether it has collection info or not.

[cid:image002.png at 01D9C531.F0358910]                                              [cid:image003.jpg at 01D9C531.F0358910]
Sarit Hand                                                       200 Liberty St.
Digital Archivist                                               New York, NY 10281
Corporate Archives                                         T 212.621.7035

shand at ap.org
From: archivesspace_users_group-bounces at lyralists.lyrasis.org <archivesspace_users_group-bounces at lyralists.lyrasis.org> On Behalf Of Bowers, Kate A.
Sent: Tuesday, August 1, 2023 11:45 AM
To: Archivesspace Users Group <archivesspace_users_group at lyralists.lyrasis.org>
Subject: Re: [Archivesspace_Users_Group] Managing Unique Top Containers

We have an enormous number of legacy collections where the container numbering has similar issues. Fortunately (or because of this) we are not trying to use AS as our system of record for locations or container management.

The best solution we found with ArchivesSpace is to repeat the entire text of the container identifier in the “indicator” field of the top container. For example:

  *   HUGFP 26.10 Box 1

     *   HUGFP 26 being the collection identifier, .10 being the series identifier, and Box 1 being the container number

  *   HUGFP 111.75 p Box 1

     *   (HUGFP 111 being the collection number, .75 being the series identifier, p being the container prefix, and Box 1 being the container number

This is, at least, accurate. It does make the public display weird in some places though.

This is a legacy practice—we no longer assign series or sous-fonds  numbers to portions of fonds or portions of collections that will be described in a single finding aid. For many institutional records, the description is at the sous-fonds or series level.  We will continue to have the problem with legacy collections, however.


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 Herbert Dittersdorf
Sent: Tuesday, August 1, 2023 11:23 AM
To: archivesspace_users_group at lyralists.lyrasis.org<mailto:archivesspace_users_group at lyralists.lyrasis.org>
Subject: [Archivesspace_Users_Group] Managing Unique Top Containers

Hello ArchiveSpace Community,

I was hoping to crowdsource a little wisdom about Top Containers and how you all manage them.

I am retooling the finding aid for the University of Maine's William S. Cohen Papers collection--a very large set of boxes (our largest). The collection contains multiple record groups, series, sub series, and sub-subseries. Boxes and files have been associated with Top Containers successfully; however, the Top Container designations tend to be generic (e.g. "Box 1," "Box 2," "Box 3"...). This fact creates a problem: each "Box 1," "Box 2," "Box 3"... Top Container is linked with records from disparate series and subseries.

For example, the following two folder titles are both linked under the same "Box 1" Top Container:

[cid:image004.png at 01D9C531.F0358910]
One file comes from subseries, 2.1.5 Membership Files. The other file comes from the subseries, 3.4.4 Mailings.

Obviously the details do not matter here. I am simply wondering how others deal with similar problems. Generally: Is there a way to create unique top container instances with identical titles? Or do you all typically embed additional information in the "Top Container" title?

In the case of the example: Can I create two unique "Box 1" instances (one for the 2.1.5 subseries and the other for the 3.4.4 subseries) by editing the metadata for that Top Container in some way? Or is creating a longer "Top Container" title (something like, "2.1.5 Box 1") the only way to solve this problem?

I am looking for an elegant way of solving this issue without creating long Top Container titles but could not find a way to do so using the Help Center. Even knowing, for sure, that I have to create longer titles would be very helpful.

Thank you so much and I apologize for clogging all of your inboxes with my question!

Herbie Dittersdorf
Herbert Matthew Dittersdorf, M.S.I.
Archivist, William S. Cohen Papers
Special Collections Department
5729 Fogler Library
Orono, ME 04469-5729

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