NARA wants new catalog

The National Archives and Records Administration has outgrown its centralized catalog of what it has in its repositories and is looking for new ways to share and manage its growing amount of data.

In a request for information published today, NARA officials said they wanted to learn from industry about software that could replace its Archival Research Catalog (ARC). The agency will hold a vendor day April 6 to discuss the initiative.

According to agency officials, the catalog can't keep up with the rapid progress being made by companies working with NARA to digitize its holdings. The catalog lets users retrieve information about NARA’s holdings by searching for keywords and through other means.

“Due to the rapid processing pace of NARA’s digitizing partners, there’s already a backlog of several million descriptions that will be associated with 11 million digital copies and 30 million more digital copies expected to be delivered this year,” the RFI states.

The catalog holds 147,433 digital items and almost 2.5 million archival descriptions that include record groups, collections and series. The agency said about 6.25 billion logical data records and 354,556 artifacts are described in the catalog, and it contains 8.8 million authority records.

“NARA has outgrown the existing ARC system and requires a more robust solution that’s capable of scaling to support at least 250 million archival descriptions and links to upwards of 500 million digital copies over the next four to seven years,” the RFI states.

NARA said responses, which are due by April 24, should include an approach for incorporating descriptive and authority services that will work with the agency’s other systems and allow for reuse in many ways. Responses should also include the estimated price of the solution and data on relevant contracting vehicles.

About the Author

Ben Bain is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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