ANS adds ARCHER to online research tools

Enables search to identify contents of ANS archives
Published : 11/17/11
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The American Numismatic Society has expanded the online search capabilities of its website to include its extensive collection of archival documents, photos, manuscripts and similar material with the Nov. 3 introduction of the interactive research tool ARCHER.

ARCHER (ARCHival Electronic Resource) augments the society’s DONUM research capabilities for the ANS library and numismatic literature collection, and the MANTIS collection database for coins, medals, tokens and related materials in the ANS collection. There is also a link to the Harry W. Bass Jr. Research Foundation that, since the Texas collector’s death in 1998, has kept intact in perpetuity for research and scholarship his numismatic collection of U.S. coins, notes, medals, books and other material.

According to the ANS, ARCHER will give numismatic researchers and other interested parties unparalleled access to the society’s archival holdings through simple search screens.

ARCHER, DONUM and MANTIS can all be accessed from the home page of the ANS website,

“The Society’s archives contain a rich diversity of material,” said ANS Deputy Director Andrew Meadows. “On the one hand there are the Society’s own archival records, spanning more than 150 years of our activity since 1858.

“As such, the archive is one of the oldest held by any learned society in the country. But in addition to that, the ANS also holds a remarkable archive of international significance, consisting of the papers of famous scholars, collectors and dealers in the field of numismatics.”

Designed by ANS Web Developer Ethan Gruber collaborating with ANS Archivist David Hill, ARCHER will allow anyone conducting research in the ANS archives to easily access those areas designated for public access, according to Meadows.

Meadows said while ARCHER will currently provide the searcher details on what is in the collection and digital images of some items in each respective research area, the ultimate goal is for ARCHER to be a repository for digitized files for all archival materials.

Currently, ARCHER will tell a researcher using it what is in the collection, but does not grant the user direct access to the actual materials in the ANS archives. Users can learn what appears in a selected research area, without being able to actually read the materials online.

ARCHER is powered by EADitor, open source software developed by the ANS for creating, managing, and publishing collections of archival finding aids.

The search interface — a link between hardware and software — is built on similar technology to the society’s MANTIS database.

Simple faceted searching based on personal names, places, dates, genre and Library of Congress subject headings are all provided. A facet represents a window or file in which information is stored.

The facets will describe the materials contained therein, how much is there and in what form.

ARCHER also provides a world map interface, which allow users to point their computer’s cursor to highlighted locations on the globe with relevant ANS archival material; clicking the location marker brings up a list of the relevant research materials.

“What really sets ARCHER apart from other archives management systems is that it combines a simple method for the creation of full EAD [Encoded Archival Description] with a powerful, built-in publishing feature that produces remarkably sophisticated finding aids,” Hill said.

“The faceted search capabilities give us an enhanced level of control over our archival holdings, ensuring that ANS staff and researchers can always find relevant materials from across our various collections,” Hill added.

While most archival materials will have no access restrictions in ARCHER, the ANS website does identify certain documents, such as personnel materials that are part of the society’s collective memory, that will not be accessible to the public, but only to designated ANS staff.

In addition, some areas may also have restrictions that require written permission from the executive director for access.

Details for any access restrictions can be found on the ANS website accompanying each facet. Each facet also includes copyright restrictions where applicable.

Contact ANS Deputy Director Andrew Meadows by telephone at 212-571-4470, Ext. 111, or ■

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