Social Networks and Archival Context (SNAC), Phase II (November 2017-October 2019)

The University of Virginia Library is pleased to announce Phase II of the Social Networks and Archival Context (SNAC) Cooperative program. The University of Virginia Library is collaborating with the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, and 27 other Cooperative members. This second and final phase of establishing the Cooperative (2017-2019) is generously funded by a $750,000 grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to the University of Virginia.

Phase II expands the number of cooperative partners from 17 to 29 members, and now includes two international archives, a U.S. state archive, two documentary editing projects, an individual scholar, and several new academic research libraries. During this new phase, SNAC will welcome additional members as the cooperative builds the capacity to ingest new sets of data and train editors.

Phase II has both social and technological objectives. The social objectives include developing a business model that will ensure long term sustainability, further developing editorial policies and standards, and being able to offer three forms of training for editors: on-site and remote as well as online self-guided. There will be many technological objectives, but chief among them will be the following: developing cooperative ingest tools that will enable data contributing institution to collaborate in refining and ingesting data into SNAC, and in return to receive persistent identifiers to enhance their descriptive data; refining and enhancing the History Research Tool for researchers; completing development of the key components of the technical infrastructure; and performing computational refinement and enrichment of existing SNAC data. A major focus will be on expanding capacity in training editors and ingesting new batches of data. Progress in these two areas will enable the Cooperative to vastly expand membership and the global social-document network represented in SNAC.

The SNAC Cooperative aspires to improve the economy and quality of archival processing and description, and at the same time, to address the longstanding research challenge of discovering, locating, and using distributed historical records. SNAC began as a research and development project in 2010 with a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. The project demonstrated the feasibility of separating the description of persons, families, and organizations – including their socio-historical contexts – from the description of the historical resources that are the primary evidence of their lives and work. SNAC also demonstrated that the biographical-historical data extracted and assembled can be used to provide researchers with convenient, integrated access to historical collections held by archives and libraries, large and small, around the world.

Initial work made it clear that the potential power of the assembled data to transform research and improve the economy and effectiveness of archival descriptive practices required more than digital tools.

SNAC governance and administration is now moving to the University of Virginia Library, which will provide it a long-term organizational home that ensures close collaborations and partnerships within the cultural heritage and research communities.

As its primary cooperative role, NARA has taken the lead in development and execution of SNAC’s formal training program called SNACSchool. NARA’s SNAC Liaisons are active members of the SNACSchool Working Group along with SNAC partners from other SNAC partner institutions including Smithsonian’s Archive of American Art; George Washington University Library; New York Public Library; and University of Miami Library. The working group formed in late 2016 with the primary mission of developing a formal training program for SNAC. The current curriculum includes modules for basic archival name authority control, searching the SNAC database, and creating and editing data in SNAC. SNACSchool is also designed to take place anywhere and anytime: most sessions are conducted remotely. And in Phase II, the working group is aiming for online tutorials for Cooperative members.

Jerry Simmons, National Archives Liaison to SNAC, welcomes attendees at the SNAC Partners Meeting in the Innovation Hub in Washington, DC

NARA staff is also responsible for SNAC’s social media presence. Currently found on twitter be sure to follow @SNACcooperative for all the latest information about SNAC and to learn helpful tips on using it.

More information is available at Snaccooperative.org

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