As others have said, examples are helpful, especially when you are moving from 
producing Finding Aids (as in a document with specific formatting) to having to 
put metadata of various types into a data model driven database that can then 
produce a variety of output, including a formatted Finding Aid.

Have people use the ToolTips (roll-over text) that explains what should go into 
any given data field – and make access to the online documentation easy for all 
staff using ASpace. A particular challenge at this stage in the AS application 
development is that the rendering on the staff side isn’t what is expected and 
so the desire to put data into the incorrect fields (but fields that render on 
the screen) is great.

I find that using the VRA Core metadata model is helpful for illustrating the 
ArchivesSpace models of the Resource, Instances, Archival Objects, Containers, 
etc.   I think especially for the Instances, this model is useful.

We have collections where we might have 4 or 5 instance of the same Archival 
Object and I believe that it’s useful to understand that the Archival Object is 
the intellectual idea of an object … the instance is the physical manifestation 
of that Intellectual idea, and the containers are where those instances are 
located.  Multiple instances can be linked at the top (Resource) level of a 
record or at an Archival object level – all depends on your collections.  But 
what is allows for is not having to have a separate Archival Object for each 
physical TYPE of thing, just one Archival Object that has many instances.

For an example:

Resource = Collection of My Best Audio Recordings (1976-1988)

Linked Accession =  Today I received 5 reel to reel tapes of recordings
Linked Accession = last month I received 5 CD-ROMs from reformatting of reels

Archival Object = My favorite performance done using a Theremin
(1) Instance = Reel to Reel recording
               Container – Box 1 with barcode #######
Location = Cold Storage
(2) Instance = CD-ROM with recording from the reel to reel
               Container Box 5 with barcode #######
               Location = storage area A, bay 5, shelf 2
(3) Instance = digital files (pulled from the CD-ROM)
               Container =    (BagIt package of digital 
               Location = Digital Preservation Storage; Collection_MBAR; 

Digital Object = MP3 file of the recording that I put online for Web access.
               Location - Webserver

Kari R. Smith
Institute Archivist and Program Head, Digital Archives
Institute Archives & Special Collections, MIT Libraries
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139
IASC office: 617.258.5568
she | her | hers   @karirene69  [smithkr at]

<> On Behalf Of Olivia S 
Sent: Monday, April 09, 2018 12:24 PM
To: Archivesspace Users Group <>
Subject: Re: [Archivesspace_Users_Group] Lingo Cheat Sheet?

Thank you all for this feedback! Yes, the data model will probably take getting 
used to, and I can see how some kind of visualization would be useful. As staff 
has come on board to help with the ASpace implementation, I have often included 
some version of 
 in very high level overviews of the system. I need to add Archival Objects and 
Instances. And yes, "Instance" took me some getting used to as well. If I had 
more time, I would try to do more screen shots like the second slide in the 
link I'm sharing for more visual learners (such as myself).

I certainly welcome any documentation sharing and when ours in in better shape 
be happy to do the same!

On Mon, Apr 9, 2018 at 11:13 AM, Joan Curbow 
<<>> wrote:
Hi Olivia,

I have struggled with “Instance” and have to refer to my cheat note 
occasionally: “Manifestation of intellectual content” – meaning it could be 
physical or digital, so this is where containers enter (for physical objects) 
and also description about format. I’m not handling digital objects at this 
point, either.

The conceptual model takes getting used to in the beginning, but as someone 
else pointed out, once the concepts are more clear, the terminology should be 
less of a “thing.” The other nice thing is that one can mouse over labels in 
Aspace and the application often provides helpful additional information about 
the term.


Joan Curbow
Reference Librarian and Archivist
Buena Vista University Library
Buena Vista University
610 West Fourth Street
Storm Lake, Iowa  50588

 On Behalf Of Olivia S Solis
Sent: Friday, April 06, 2018 4:04 PM
To: Archivesspace Users Group 
Subject: [Archivesspace_Users_Group] Lingo Cheat Sheet?

Hi all,

I always seem to post on Friday afternoons.

Throwing this out to the group because training is of immediate and scary 
concern. One of the things that I am acutely aware of is that our staff is 
going to have to get used to new terminology and fast to be able to use ASpace. 
Lingo is going to be a big barrier to access.

What have been some of your conceptual/terminology roadblocks in terms of staff 

Things I know I will have to explain as new terminology/conceptual reframing 
are included as headers below. I'm laying my work bare here, but I'm thinking 
that the crowdsourcing could be useful here. We've got people at varied levels 
of technical proficiency. I was thinking of an informal cheat sheet.

Did you make a cheat sheet for ASpace lingo for staff training? Am I not 
including some conceptual leaps here? Did you have ASpace terminology you had 
to explain in multiple ways?


Agent Record

A record type for a person, family, corporation, or software. A major record 
type in ASpace that can link to Accession Records, Resource Records, Archival 
Object Records, and Event Records in various roles, most often as subjects and 
creators. Every distinct agent has one and only one record.

Archival Object Record

[NOTE we're not using ASpace for digital objects]
A record type for an item in an inventory. If are familiar with EAD, this 
corresponds to a <c##> level. If not, think of this as a tabbed level of an 

ArchivesSpace thinks of hierarchical relationships as "parent"/"child". A 
parent could be the <c01> to a child <c02>, though ASpace would never frame it 
in terms of specific numbered component levels. A parent could also be the box 
that a child reel/folder/box within the parent box

Container Profile

Basically, the type and dimensions of a container. Container profiles are 
consecutively numbered by type. For a description of container types see [this 
link]. For specs/pictures of different container types, see [this link].

Event Record

In DBCAH's implementation, Event Records document specific steps taken in 
archival processing, most comprehensively in Accession Records (e.g. Deeds of 
Gift sent or received). Event Records are bound to specific dates.

Location Profile
Note (resources)
Resource Record

Essentially a finding aid plus some additional collection management 

Space Calculator

Olivia Solis, MSIS
Metadata Coordinator
Dolph Briscoe Center for American History
The University of Texas at Austin
2300 Red River St. Stop D1100
Austin TX, 78712-1426
(512) 232-8013

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Olivia Solis, MSIS
Metadata Coordinator
Dolph Briscoe Center for American History
The University of Texas at Austin
2300 Red River St. Stop D1100
Austin TX, 78712-1426
(512) 232-8013
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