Contributed by: Adrienne Harling, Archivist, San Francisco Symphony


As ArchivesSpace is now the industry standard for Archival collection management and finding aid generation, organizations of all sizes are looking to adopt it. To do this successfully, it is ideal to get in-person training as well as membership access to the wealth of self-help instructional materials in the ArchivesSpace members area. However, the ArchivesSpace trainings have primarily been hosted by single larger institutions for their own employees. This makes it difficult for smaller institutions with few employees, or lone arrangers, to participate in these trainings.

I am the Archivist at the San Francisco Symphony, and our Archives Department has only two employees. We acquired and started implementing ArchivesSpace about six months ago. Since we plan to use ArchivesSpace to its full capacity as our primary collection management tool, we really wanted to take the in-person ArchivesSpace Basics training.

Because we are in a large city with a large number of archives repositories of all sizes in the surrounding region, it was pretty easy to organize a two-day ArchivesSpace Basics training for a group of smaller organizations. This is how we did it:

Step 1: Email ArchivesSpace.

Before I got started, I emailed Christine Kim at ArchivesSpace (christine.kim@lyrasis.org) to gain perspective on what needs to happen to organize a training. My email was as simple as: “I would like to organize a training” which was enough to get the conversation started to figure out the next steps, and gave ASpace a chance to start looking for available instructors.

Step 2: Send out a call.

I put out an inquiry to the regional “Western Archivists” email listserv asking who would be interested in participating in a San Francisco based training. I worded my initial inquiry like this:

Hello! I am interested in finding 5-10 archivists in the Bay Area who would like to do an ArchivesSpace training. Typically institutions host trainings for their staffs, but I’m a lone arranger and assume that there are others out there who may be in the same boat of needing training but unable to host a training at our institutions. I’ve talked to the folks at ASpace and they are supportive of this idea. Please let me know if you are interested! Once I get enough people we can figure out the logistics together. Thanks!

Step 3: Survey potential participants.

I collected the emails of those who expressed interest, and sent out a Google Forms survey to this list with the following questions:

1. Email Address
2. Name
3. Organization
4. Is your organization a member of ArchivesSpace? (If every participating organization is a member, this can reduce cost. This was not true in our case, and we didn’t exclude non-members.)
5. Can you attend a two day training, a one day training, or either? (A range of cost was provided for each option, based on discussions with Christine Kim who provided a potential cost breakdown.)
6. What dates can you attend this training? (Five choices were provided that would work for the instructor.)

Step 4: Choose a date. (And find a facility.)

Based on the results of the survey, we selected a specific date, put that date back to the group and said that the first ten people to sign up with a commitment would be able to attend the training. Because one of the participating organizations offered to host the training at their facility, we guaranteed their spots and provided them a discounted rate.

Step 5: Confirm workshop details and participants.

When 10 people had signed up (we settled on ten people to minimize the cost per participant), I announced the final workshop details and informed the rest of those who had expressed interest that the training was full.

Step 6: Invoice participants; pay for workshop.

I had our organization (the San Francisco Symphony) submit invoices to each of the participating organizations, who then paid us (the SFS). The SFS then paid the full workshop amount to ArchivesSpace after the workshop was complete. (ArchivesSpace cannot invoice individual participants.)

Final thoughts:

Organizing an ArchivesSpace training for smaller institutions within our region was relatively easy. Beyond the steps listed above, I had many conversations with Christine Kim at ArchivesSpace to check in on all of the steps outlined above, as well as staff at the host facility, San Francisco Public Library, regarding logistics. However, the overall time investment was low. The workshop itself was excellent, and allowed participating archivists to get to know each other better, too. What we learned in the training had a huge impact on our ability to use the software to its full potential.

If you are interested in organizing a training for your region, please feel free to reach out to me at adrienne.harling@gmail.com with any additional questions!


Adrienne Harling is the Archivist for the San Francisco Symphony. Her previous work was developing Community Archives for an Indigenous community, and processing environmentally focused collections for Humboldt State University. She is reachable at adrienne.harling@gmail.com.

User Insights is a blog series that highlights diverse perspectives and experiences of ArchivesSpace users to enrich our entire community through shared stories, strategies, and lessons learned. This series aims to provide insight to the archivists, librarians, information technologists, developers, and so many other contributors using ArchivesSpace to preserve permanently valuable records and provide access to our researchers.

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