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“Toward a National Archival Finding Aid Network” planning initiative: outcomes and availability of action plan

We are pleased to share the following action plan, which represents the culmination of “Toward a National Archival Finding Aid Network” (NAFAN) — a one-year (October 2018-September 2019) planning initiative convened by the California Digital Library (CDL), with the participation of representatives from multiple regional finding aid aggregations, and input from expert advisors:

Many regional finding aid aggregators across the country struggle to find sufficient resources to update their platforms and engage with some of the most promising advances in the field. With crucial funding support from the US Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) and administered in California by the State Librarian, the NAFAN initiative proposed to explore the creation of a national archival finding aid network that could fundamentally transform the archival description landscape while continuing to serve the needs of aggregators and archival repositories. The initiative provided participants opportunities to discuss and test the original premise: by pooling resources and establishing co-development partnerships, we believe we can address our individual challenges collectively, thereby extending the capabilities, breadth, and depth of existing aggregations. 

The action plan is a key deliverable of the planning initiative, building on the release of the Finding Aid Aggregation at a Crossroads report and incorporating outcomes from a planning symposium held in June of this year. 

At the heart of the action plan are recommendations for and principles to guide next steps to implement a sustainable national-level finding aid network, based on a phased, incremental approach that: moves this effort from a research and demonstration project to a program; is informed by a research agenda; and, from the outset, includes work to establish business and governance models that fit the infrastructure and service model and are grounded in the community’s organizational and financial capacity.

Over the coming months, the CDL will convene follow-up discussions with the planning initiative participants to formalize and initiate work identified in the action plan.

For more information about the NAFAN planning initiative and outcomes, please see the project wiki.