Yesterday I had the pleasure of taking the shuttle to the Carpenter Library to watch a SAA webinar “Archon…making it work for you”. Dianne Johnson, Archivist at the Dorothy Carpenter Medical Archives, registered for the event and invited our department to listen in.
I must say, I was very impressed with Archon and am excited about the possibilities of what Archives Space, the much talked about (but not in this webinar) future product which will result from the merging of Archon and Archivists’ Toolkit.
First an foremost, Archon has a public access option, which Archivists’ Toolkit does not. The search-ability of the database both by the public and employees far surpasses the capabilities of Archivists’ Toolkit. Browsing by title, creator, digital objects, subjects and record groups, as well as keywords, is a great benefit of this program and something that is not possible in the software we are currently using. Digital objects, audio, and video can be attached to a finding aid and viewed within the context of the collection, record group, or fonds. My interest was piqued and I have spent some time searching the Archon repositories from University of Illinois Archives, where the webinar speakers Christopher Prom and Scott Schwartz work.
I feel that although this software has many advantages, we here at ZSR are on the right track in terms of understanding, organizing, and finding our collections. We have done a lot of work over the past year adding resources into Archivists’ Toolkit, yet we have a lot more to do in terms of processing the materials and making them available to the public.
What I take away from “Archon…making it work for you” is that it is a great product. I am optimistic that Archives Space will take the best of both Archon and Archivists’ Toolkit and that we, the Archives and Special Collections team, will be prepared with searchable content and excellent finding aids.
Many thanks to Dianne for inviting me to listen in.