November 29, 2015

New: Users of NARA's Online Public Access Prototype Catalog Can Now Add Tags to Database Records

From the NARAtions Blog:

As you search the Online Public Access (OPA) prototype catalog, we now invite you to tag any archival description, as well as person and organization name records, with the keywords or labels that are meaningful to you. Our hope is that crowdsourcing tags will enhance the content of our online catalog and help you find the information you seek more quickly.


Newly created tags will be reviewed to ensure they meet the National Archives’ tagging policy guidelines, and will be visible the day they are approved and indexed overnight. In addition to the new user registration and tagging features in OPA, we’ve also made some fixes to the system, such as adding the Record Group and/or Collection information to the full displays for archival descriptions, as well as the Level of Description.

Details, registration info (it’s required to tag records), and an example of a document tags added by users are accessible here.

Direct to NARA’s Tagging Policy for OPA

Direct to NARA’s OPA Tagging FAQ
Worth reviewing.

This is going to be an interesting experiment for several reasons especially given the visibility of NARA and the OPA database.

Why? Here are a few reasons:

1. Will users actually tag records?

2. Will the tags be useful or a roadblock to searchers?

3. Assuming that tagging becomes popular does NARA have the human and info tech resources in place to handle reviewing every tag before they are entered into the database.

The service is open to users from around the globe. How will they handle tags in various languages?

4. Although there is a tagging policy in place (what is and is not acceptable), how will NARA handle a tag that’s right on the line between acceptable and a problem? Will users who enter a tag that is not accepted be given a reason why?

5. Spam. It’s always an issue and planning for it is essential. Can NARA quickly identify and remove a lot of tag spam from the database?

Stay tuned.

Hat Tip/Thanks: @ArchivesNext

Gary Price About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.

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