Anti-racism and Inclusion Initiatives Progress

These initiatives were developed from suggestions gathered from an initial Google document distributed to community members, Open Community Calls on Anti-racism and Inclusion held in the summer of 2020 and a follow-up feedback form circulated to the archives community. Progress on each is noted here.

While some of the ideas are fairly simple to implement, others may require considerable cooperation and discussion across the community, including the involvement of the ArchivesSpace Governance Board. We also acknowledge that some of the ideas are better addressed (and often are already being addressed) beyond ArchivesSpace. In this space we indicate what ArchivesSpace is doing or point to groups and resources in the wider community, depending on what is most appropriate and impactful.

This is a living and breathing effort, not a checklist that will be “done” when we reach the end of the initial group of ideas. Please reach out to us if you have questions or feedback about any current ArchivesSpace Anti-racism and Inclusion initiatives or would like to suggest new work to be done. Our email is




Current Status

Have representation from Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Hispanic Serving Institutions on the Governance Board or create specific seat on the Governance Board for a representative from HBCUs/HSIs.

There was concern about placing a burden on the very institutions we are seeking to draw in given the current limited participation of HBCUs/HSIs in the ArchivesSpace membership community at the present time.

A proposal was made to the Governance Board at their October 2020 meeting to charge a small internal task force to investigate options and models for improving its own diversity before creating new Board seats or designating existing Board seats differently.

Board will focus on education and information sharing for the time being as it investigates ways to improve its own diversity.

Not started

Provide one-on-one mentoring to potential and new Governance Board representatives to provide more support and/or a longer runway to service.

Many thought this was a good idea for Governance in general.

Idea was discussed in the Fall 2020 Governance Board Meeting.

Governance Board informal buddy system and deep dives covering specific areas of knowledge helpful to Board service begun with 2020-2021 term.

In Progress


Explore the creation of a standing DEIA Council.

This came up in a comment in a feedback form response and did not receive wider discussion. This idea may be coupled with other initiatives.


On Hold




Current Status

Subsidize membership for some grassroots organizations, community archives, tribal archives, Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs).

A recurring theme of the comments in the discussions and feedback was that these really should be offered together, since ArchivesSpace implementation and full participation in the community is best accomplished with lots of support.

First cohort for ArchivesSpace Diversity Partnership announced in May 2021. Five institutions began as of July 1, 2021.

In Progress

Subsidize or offer assistance with self-hosted or hosted ArchivesSpace installations for some grassroots organizations, community archives, tribal archives, HBCUs and HSIs.

Develop a training toolkit for grassroots organizations, community archives, and tribal archives that want to use ArchivesSpace, or develop an infrastructure for community members to create and disseminate resources to assist grassroots organizations, community archives, and tribal archives.


Develop a new membership tier specifically for minority-serving institutions that evaluates each institution on a case by case basis.

This is a recent community suggestion and has not yet been discussed at the governance level.

Expect to submit a proposal that evaluates financial and community impact for consideration by the Board in 2021.



Explore the creation of a cloud-based centralized ArchivesSpace or consider consortial membership to allow grassroots organizations, community archives, tribal archives, HBCUs, HSIs and other less resourced organizations to share financial and infrastructure commitments.

It is not clear how much demand there is for this, and to what extent this is already possible in other ways through finding aid aggregators. More research is needed.


on hold

Provide greater diversity in the examples used in the user documentation.

Since our examples are often drawn from the data we use for demos, training, and testing, we have expanded the focus to include our standard data sets as well.

Have hired a contractor from the community to work on this from January-April 2022 (see Inclusive Examples Project). She is putting a call out to the community in February 2022 requesting example data for these purposes. The User Documentation sub-team and Trainer Corps will also be involved, including if work continues after the contract ends.


Work with organizations and groups that help others understand ethical collecting and archival description to identify best practices for using (or not using) ArchivesSpace and related barriers in the application.


We have increased the focus on these topics in our programming. Two examples:

Webinar on Implementing the Protocols for Native American Archival Materials at Northern Arizona University held on April 14, 2021.

Session on Metadata Justice at the University of Oklahoma Libraries at 2021 Member Forum.

In progress

Regularly spotlight the work our members do in their communities, via mechanisms such as features in our monthly updates and posts on our blog/Twitter.




Provide greater support for learning ArchivesSpace and archival information management to BIPOC students in archives and related educational programs.

This is already on our to-do list for the year, though it had been postponed by the COVID-19 crisis.

Proposal for surveying educational programs being submitted to the Board for its September 2021 meeting.

In progress

Commit to virtual networking and programs as a way to support the global community of ArchivesSpace, including under resourced institutions in the Global South.

While wider global expansion remains a goal, this has been somewhat backburnered by the COVID-19 crisis. We do plan to offer our engagement programming virtually until it is over. We are committed to continuing to provide virtual networking opportunities like the ArchivesSpace Online Forum.

Consider how virtual programming may be used specifically to support individuals and institutions in the Global South in 2021.

In progress

* A fundamental principle of ArchivesSpace is that those who can contribute, whether financially or with their time and talents, do so in order to make what ArchivesSpace makes possible possible for everyone. That core principle is essential to ArchivesSpace being sustainable as a program, application, and community, but there are different ways we as a community can bring people in to broaden the conversation, open up possibilities, and be a force for more good. ArchivesSpace is committed to remaining free to download and use and makes almost all of its resources freely available. ArchivesSpace’s member model supports the continuing development of the application and services and resources that support the community that uses it. Organizations that elect to become ArchivesSpace members receive member benefits including access to the Help Center, listservs and technical support. ArchivesSpace membership ensures that the ArchivesSpace application is sustainable and available to all archives and archivists.





Current Status

Convene a working group to develop a thesaurus or glossary and create examples of antiracist descriptive practice.

This was felt by many to be outside of ArchivesSpace’s purview. There are good examples to point to in the wider archives and cultural heritage community.

Resources available at

If you would like to contribute or make a suggestion to this resource list, email


Provide guidance on which fields to use for disclaimers on material containing racist, sexist, and offensive language or content.

Some of the feedback pointed out that this is primarily a descriptive standards issue, not really an ArchivesSpace issue.

Resources available at

If you would like to contribute or make a suggestion to this resource list, email

We will also work with relevant community groups to incorporate guidance from DACS on this issue into our user manual, tool tips, and training materials.

in progress


Eliminate coding terminology that echoes racist language such as "master" and "blacklist/whitelist".


We are investigating tools that GitHub has made available to make this process easier from a technical standpoint, and will work on reeducation within our community.

In Progress

Explicitly acknowledge in the application that there is inherent bias in the application and make it clear which who can access records and fields in ArchivesSpace and how.


We will add a statement to our GitHub repository.

not started

Convene a working group to examine unconscious bias and barriers to entry in the ArchivesSpace application, particularly related to language and privacy.

A lot of this work is being done through the discussions themselves. Creating specifications for issues that had surfaced and beginning work toward development would better retain momentum and achieve progress.

Creating specifications for issues that had surfaced and beginning work toward development would better retain momentum and achieve progress.

These ideas vary greatly in complexity and amount of effort and skills required to build them into the application.


Program team is working on specifications for many of these ideas, calling in community members as needed. Program team will then work to estimate the staffing and cost associated with them.

In Progress

Ability to choose simplified templates for data entry, import, export, and display in the public user interface.

A common theme of the discussions was that ArchivesSpace can very complicated for an inexperienced user, especially a non-archivist. The ability to use simplified templates and views for some functions would significantly lower the barrier to entry.

This type of functionality is often requested in other contexts as well.

Develop a scaffolding or infrastructure to make redescription work or antiracist description work easier within ArchivesSpace.

Specific items mentioned included:

·       bulk editing

·       full audit trail

·       additional fields for tracking work


Some of this work is perhaps too complex to undertake or the function can be achieved in the application in part already, but bulk editing is one of the most requested features in the application in general.

Allow for versioning of all record types in ArchivesSpace to document the changes made when doing redescription work and a way to provide the context for why the change was made.

This is probably the most difficult of the ideas technologically because it may require rearchitecting the application.

Create a mechanism to provide trigger or content warnings at both the resource and archival object level.

It is already possible to manually provide a trigger warning as text within a field or note, or a blanket statement within an ArchivesSpace deployment. Discussions suggested taking this farther by having a way a warning could appear more prominently on a record (particularly in the PUI) and being able to invoke it as needed throughout the application.

Provide a mechanism to allow users to submit a correction/edit to a finding aid or annotate finding aids.

Some commenters pointed to a recommendation on page 6 in the recommendations for Anti-Racist Description Resources from Archives for Black Lives in Philadelphia:

Provide support for description in multiple languages and more translations of the interface.

This has been raised in many contexts previously and would support ArchivesSpace’s growth as well as commitment to inclusion.

If you are interested in contributing a translation of the ArchivesSpace interface, please email

Provide a way to make agents repository-specific or viewable by only some users.

This is also probably quite complex to implement. This could be part of a larger set of changes related to multi-tenant support, which would require significant architecture changes.

Enable the use of Traditional Knowledge (TK) labels on indigenous cultural heritage materials. (

TK labels are useful for institutions implementing the Protocols for Native American Archival Materials (, guidelines for sensitive and ethical management of indigenous materials which were endorsed by SAA in 2018.


Program team will consult with some experts within and outside the current community about these needs and write specifications. For the purposes of funding, these ideas could be considered a subset of a larger development project, or a development project of its own.

Explore ways to better support integration with Mukurtu ( for those organizations using both Mukurtu and ArchivesSpace or needing to exchange data with other organizations that use one or the other.

Mukurtu is an open source collection management system specifically aimed at sharing digital content in “culturally relevant and ethically-minded” ways. It is often used by institutions that work with indigenous cultural heritage materials.

Add a mechanism for authentication in the public interface.

Some archives want to be able to share some information about their collections with some users but not everyone, when those users don’t share a common IP address or domain or something else that otherwise might be used to restrict access to a website. This is a common issue for tribal archives who have little IT support.

Provide better support for right-to-left (RTL) scripts, ideally bi-directional text.

ArchivesSpace does already provide some support for right-to-left scripts already but comments indicated that it is insufficient for some needs.

We will convene a small working group to investigate this issue and provide a specification.

Add fields for variant terms and a function that allows us to make the variant term the local display term when the LCSH term is deemed harmful.

Subjects have always been one of the simplest kinds of records in ArchivesSpace. Expanding the subjects module has come up in discussions for several years, for a range of reasons.

We will convene a working group on expanding the subjects module, with a particular focus on concerns related to inclusion.

Provide mechanisms to better support non-LCSH authority term imports.

While not entirely related to expansion of the subjects module, it will be important that the subject record in ArchivesSpace be able to accommodate data points prevalent in the chosen controlled vocabularies.