When will restricted materials become available?

One morning recently, our records services archivist sent me an email. He was wondering if there was a way I could report to him on which materials in our university archives have restrictions that have passed. After all, this data is buried in access restriction notes all over finding aids — it would be very difficult to find this information by doing a search on our finding aids portal or in Archivists’ Toolkit.

This is exactly the kind of project that I love to do — it’s the intersection of archival functions, improved user experience, and metadata power tools.

In ArchivesSpace, restrictions have controlled date fields. This kind of report would be very easy in that kind of environment! Unfortunately, AT and EAD only has a place for this information as free text in notes.

Time for an xquery!

xquery version "3.0";
 
declare namespace ead="urn:isbn:1-931666-22-9";
declare namespace xlink = "http://www.w3.org/1999/xlink";
declare namespace functx = "http://www.functx.com";

<restrictions>
{
 for $ead in ead:ead
 let $doc := base-uri($ead)
 return
 <document uri="{$doc}">
 {
 for $accessrestrict in $ead//ead:dsc//ead:accessrestrict/ead:p[matches(.,'(19|20)[0-9]{2}')]
 let $series := $accessrestrict/ancestor::ead:c[@level = 'series' or @level = 'accession' or @level = 'accn']//ead:unitid
 let $dateseg := fn:substring-after($accessrestrict,'until')
 for $x in $series
 return
 
 <lookhere location="{$x}">
 {$accessrestrict}
 <date>{$dateseg}</date>
 </lookhere>
 }
 </document>
}
</restrictions>

And now for the walk-through.

Working together, we determined that any end dates will be below the <dsc>. So this report asks for any access restriction note below the dsc that includes a date in the twentieth or twenty-first century.

The report tells me what series that access restriction note is a part of and which file it’s a part of. I also pull out any text after the word “until”, because I see that common practice is to say “These materials will be restricted until XXXX.”

From there, I was able to put this data into an excel spreadsheet, do a bit of clean-up there, and give my colleague a sorted list of when particular series in collections are slated to be open.

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2 thoughts on “When will restricted materials become available?

  1. Is an xquery run in ArchivesSpace or on the EAD finding aids themselves? This could be incredibly useful!!

  2. So this is something that I ran against xml documents. I would recommend BaseX, which is an xml database, has a native xQuery engine, and does a really nice job at scale.

    In ArchivesSpace, you may notice that the model is a “rights” subrecord. In that subrecord, it’s possible to encode normalized dates for when restrictions expire. This won’t help with legacy data, but moving forward, it will be possible to write a Jasper report (or query the database) to see when restrictions expire. I’m not sure how it works, but it may also be possible to just have the rights record disappear once the restriction has expired.

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