January 20, 2022

“Building a National Finding Aid Network”: Collaborative Research and Development Initiative Receives $982,000 IMLS National Leadership

From the California Digital Library/CDLInfo:

The California Digital Library is pleased to announce a $982,175 grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS – National Leadership Grants for Libraries grant program) to conduct a two-year research and demonstration project designed to build the foundation for a national archival finding aid network. This work will be undertaken in collaboration with OCLC and the University of Virginia Library, and in close partnership with statewide/regional aggregators and LYRASIS (ArchivesSpace).

“Building a National Finding Aid Network” addresses a fundamental challenge that researchers of all types face: the significant barriers to locating relevant archival materials across the vast, distributed, and unevenly supported field of cultural heritage institutions. Digital aggregations of finding aids (descriptions of archival collections) are often siloed and at-risk as their infrastructure ages and budgets dwindle, and many archives don’t even publish their finding aids online. As a result, much of the stewarded archival content in the United States is essentially invisible, and the voices documented therein are poorly represented in the historical record.


This project will include multiple concurrent lines of work from September 2020 to August 2022:

  • Investigation of end-user and contributor needs in relation to finding aid aggregations and evaluation of the quality of existing finding aid data.
  • Technical assessments of potential systems to support network functions, including a registry of institutions and the integration of finding aid data with related content and context (e.g. SNAC), and the formulation of system requirements for a minimum viable product instantiation of the network.
  • Community building, sustainability planning, and governance modeling to support subsequent phases moving from a project to a program, post-2022.


Over the coming weeks, we will share additional information about “Building a National Finding Aid Network” through a publicly-accessible online project workspace.

Read the Complete Announcement

See Also: University of Virginia Receives Mellon Foundation Grant to Fund Completion and Expansion of the Social Networks and Archival Context Cooperative (SNAC)

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) 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 Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.