ArchivesSpace is an archival information management application used in thousands of archival repositories around the world. It has been very widely adopted in the United States, but also has users throughout the UK, Europe, Australia and New Zealand, and many other areas. When you look for an internship or a job after graduation, you’ll likely find that experience with ArchivesSpace is appreciated, and sometimes even expected. This guide is intended to help students and new professionals identify ArchivesSpace resources that may be especially helpful as you prepare to enter the archival field.

Understand what ArchivesSpace can do in an archives

ArchivesSpace is designed to support core functions in archives administration, functions you’re likely becoming familiar with in your archival education program.

ArchivesSpace can assist with archival functions like:

  • Accessioning new materials
  • Arrangement and description of materials including analog, hybrid, and born-digital content 
  • Managing agent and subject authorities and applying controlled access headings
  • Surveying and assessing materials
  • Managing of the location of materials and storage areas overall
  • Tracking actions taken on materials 
  • Creating reports about materials
  • Making your materials accessible via a public user interface

ArchivesSpace also functions as a metadata authoring tool, enabling the generation of EAD, EAC-CPF, MARCXML, MODS, Dublin Core, and METS-formatted data that can be exported for posting online or exchange with other systems.

ArchivesSpace is NOT a digital asset management or digital preservation system.  This means digital objects cannot be ingested into and do not reside within it.  ArchivesSpace can be used to create metadata about digital content, and to link to content stored on a web server or in another system, but it cannot be used to manage digital files themselves.

If some of these terms are unfamiliar to you, we recommend referencing the Dictionary of ArchivesSpace Terminology maintained by the Society of American Archivists

Learn to use the application

ArchivesSpace offers trainings in using the application throughout the year, and many past trainings have been recorded. Some of the best resources for getting to know the application include:

ArchivesSpace also offers a sandbox as an open playspace so that people can try out ArchivesSpace without downloading or installing anything. You can access it at http://sandbox.archivesspace.org/. Use the username admin and the password admin to access the full functionality of the application. The sandbox is cleared out frequently and should not be used for anything you want to keep or don’t want anyone else to see. 

See how others use ArchivesSpace

There are thousands of ArchivesSpace users and many share their knowledge through presentations and their public sites. A few resources we suggest for seeing how others are using ArchivesSpace:

Explore the resources of Educational Program Membership

If you’re still in school you may have access to our Help Center resources through our free Educational Program Membership program. Membership is at the institutional level, not the individual level. If your school isn’t currently a member, discuss this program with a faculty member. We welcome applications from any college or university that provides archival education to graduate or undergraduate students.

Make the case for membership if your employer uses ArchivesSpace

ArchivesSpace is free to download and use, but relies on membership for its sustainability and future development. Membership also provides resources to help users get the most out of the application. We encourage all institutions that use ArchivesSpace to become ArchivesSpace members.

While you may not be in a position right now to make a determination about membership, the following resources may be helpful when encouraging others to consider membership and ensure ArchivesSpace continues to be available:

There are many more resources to explore ArchivesSpace on our website, wiki, YouTube channel, and in the wider community. Our general Getting Started page is another good place to learn more. Feel free to get in touch with the ArchivesSpace Program Team at ArchivesSpaceHome@lyrasis.org if you have other questions after working through these resources.