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PROGRAM • ATTEND • RESOURCES • EXPO
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Tuesday, August 18 • 1:30pm - 2:30pm
Research Forum Poster: Building Curation into Records Creation: Developing a Digital Repository at the American Institute of Architects

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Successful digital curation begins at the point of creation. How can a small archive achieve this for permanent born-digital records produced by its own organization? The archivist doesn’t have time to assess, arrange, and describe masses of unidentified files. Creators don’t have time to assess and tag each piece.

The AIA Digital Repository program at the American Institute of Architects turns the traditional model upside down. Describe first—then just add records.

Development of the AIA Digital Repository began in 2015 and will finish in 2016. Current work focuses on three key areas:



  • Meeting with each staff department to outline record series, content types, and their descriptive and administrative metadata—a blend of functional analysis, fonds, and records survey. This approach brings together the creator’s knowledge of the materials with the archivist’s understanding of context and arrangement.

  • Developing an intellectual structure of contextual objects that describe creators or AIA programs, and have relationships with series, subseries, and records. Most metadata elements are pre-assigned at the appropriate level.

  • Investigating ways to create a scalable and sustainable workflow to bulk ingest files into the pre-defined repository structure.


We hope that this “describe first” approach can become a model for other small archives to preserve their own organization’s born-digital records, or for collecting archives working with institutional donors.

About the Authors:

Nancy Hadley is Senior Manager, Archives & Records, for the American Institute of Architects. She has been a certified archivist since 1991, and was in the first group to receive the SAA’s new Digital Archives Specialist certificate. Prior to becoming archivist for the American Institute of Architects in 2003, she held positions at the College of William & Mary and at the Houston Metropolitan Research Center. She holds a B.A. in architecture (Princeton University), M.Arch. (Rice University), and M.L.I.S. (North Texas State University).

Valerie Collins is a 2015 National Digital Stewardship Resident at the American Institute of Architects. She holds a B.A. in English and German from the University of Alaska Fairbanks and a MLIS from Dalhousie University.



Tuesday August 18, 2015 1:30pm - 2:30pm
Room 26A Cleveland Convention Center, 300 Lakeside Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44114

Attendees (4)