Mark A. Matienzo
Assistant Director for Digital Strategy and Access, Libraries
Assistant Director, Head of Digital Programs
Rockefeller Archive Center
Associate University Librarian for Digital Library Systems and Services
Audra Eagle Yun
Head of Special Collections & Archives and University Archivist
University of California, Irvine
Archives and special collections are at a critical point of reconsidering discovery, access, and delivery for their collections given development and adoption of key technical and community infrastructure that supports access, delivery, and use of collections. Systems and platforms supporting these functions, like discovery systems, fulfillment systems, media delivery, and specialized access environments, are becoming increasingly sophisticated and complex, with users and researchers demanding more sophisticated functionality over time. Inadequate systems integration for archival discovery and delivery leads to a frustrating user experience for researchers and archivists, introducing unnecessary friction to ongoing research and fulfillment processes. Systems integration also impacts (and may be driven by) distributed systems support models such as those between departments, in consortial environments, and when using software as a service solutions. Given ongoing concerns about the sustainability of digital infrastructure and equitable access to content managed in it within the cultural heritage sector, there is an opportunity to get an in-depth understanding of how systems integration impacts archival discovery and delivery, and to develop a forward-looking agenda to address these functions holistically.
Through our experience with technical and community development supporting archival discovery and delivery through initiatives like ArcLight (an archival discovery environment developed by Stanford University, University of Michigan, Indiana University, Duke University, and Princeton University), Project Electron (developed by Rockefeller Archive Center), and the International Image Interoperability Framework’s Archives Community Group, we see an opportunity to align both strategic and tactical work to develop an agenda describing a future for access and use of archives and special collections that cares for communities that use and are represented in them through carefully-considered integrations. This activity is a core focus of Lighting the Way: A National Forum on Archival Discovery and Delivery, a project facilitated by Stanford University Libraries and funded by the Institute for Museum and Library Services, which is convening a series of national meetings on strategic alignment focused on front-end systems integration for archives and special collections.