October 31, 2017 will mark the end of the Social Networks & Archival Context (SNAC) pilot phase; an endeavor funded by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Since receiving the grant in August 2015, SNAC has moved forward in its goal of establishing a sustainable, community-driven and -supported cooperative for sharing descriptive archival data; archival data housed in search system which forefront the identities & stories of millions of creators of archives, special libraries and museum holdings.
As the pilot end date approached, there was still work to be done, so the cooperative leadership officially requested an extension, & Mellon granted an additional three months. Itâs also important to know that SNAC was invited to apply for a second pilot phase with funding from November 2017 through October 2019. The grant proposal for the next pilot phase is pending the award grant from the Mellon Foundation at this time. The cooperative leadership & membership are excited about the prospect of SNACâs future development.
NARAâs official involvement in SNAC started in 2012 when Archives staff accepted an advisory role in SNAC as the project morphed from a research & development venture into an effort to launch a new cooperative of archives data sharing. Presently, two staff from NARAâs Office of Innovation, Jerry Simmons & Dina Herbert, represent the agency as External Agency Liaisons to the SNAC cooperative. They coordinate all of NARAâs efforts for SNAC work, including active participation in the planning & development of SNACâs governance & administration along with the seventeen partner institutions. NARA, as the Federal lead institution, forms one third of the SNAC operations effort, working closely with representatives from the University of Virginiaâs Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities and the California Digital Library.
From the beginning of the pilot phase in August 2015, NARAâs representatives were actively involved in SNACâs user interface system development through consultation & software testing. Currently, NARAâs SNAC Liaison team responds to requests to test newly developed system functions, ensuring all necessary user requirements are met. Additionally, we work closely with the leadership of the SNAC Communications and SNAC Editorial & Standards Policy working groups in order to coordinate efforts & share responsibility for communicating all aspects of SNAC activity to the cooperative partnership, & to be a responsive voice to policy issues surrounding descriptive standards & use policies implemented in SNAC.
In keeping with NARAâs dedication to social media, NARAâs SNAC Liaisons are engaged in a robust Twitter project to bring exposure to SNACâs rich content of descriptive data. Regular tweets with anniversary-focused themes have been well received in the early months of the effort. &, in keeping with the cooperative spirit, NARA SNAC Liaisons are actively teaming with social media experts from partner institutions to promote SNAC & to demonstrate its power to connect records creators with shared relationships and common life stories. Among these efforts is a special project to demonstrate the relationships between polar explorers, their personal and professional connections, their affiliations with polar expeditions, & the locations of their personal papers & artifacts.
In its primary role, NARA has taken the lead in development & execution of SNACâs formal training program called the SNACSchool. Both of NARAâs SNAC Liaisons are active members of the SNACSchool Working Group along with SNAC partners from other SNAC partner institutions including Barbara Aikens, Smithsonianâs Archive of American Art; Alan Mark, George Washington University Library; Melanie Yolles, New York Public Library; & Glen Wiley, 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 covering basic archival authority control, searching the SNAC database, & creating & editing data in SNAC.
Next week, SNACSchool will make its debut at the Millar Library on the campus of Portland State University during the Society of American Archivists (SAA) annual meeting. SNACSchool instructors will host a group of new SNAC users for a live classroom event, and another group participating remotely from several locations across the country. SNACSchoolâs future will involve in-person events at large conferences such as SAA, however, a great deal of energy is now dedicated to developing a training schedule via remote events, while developing a highly flexible, self-paced learning platform for the cooperativeâs future.