Developing Change: How a Tech Project Enabled Organizational Transition

Bonnie Gordon, Patrick Galligan and Hannah Sistrunk

Digital Programs Team, Rockefeller Archive Center

About Us


  • Engage and empower users
  • Respect researchers' privacy
  • Support broad and equitable access to archival materials
  • Build networks, not silos
  • Practice intentional communication
  • Learn constantly by taking strategic risks
  • Invest in yourself and the profession

Project Electron

Infrastructure to acquire, manage, preserve, and facilitate access to digital records

Project Values

  • Create reproducible and modular deliverables
  • Place users at the center of the design process
  • Support archival practices and standards
  • Support data in motion

User-Centered Design

UX Activities

Card sorting


Scenario Mapping

Usability Testing


Web application to enable the transfer, appraisal, and accessioning of digital records

visual example of a persona

Creating Personas

User stories

Card sorting activity

Twelve personas in four user categories

Scenario Mapping

Group activity using personas

"Map" of user steps to accomplish a task

Essential for development decisions and UI design

Step - Question - Comment - Idea


Aurora Usability Testing

Lightweight DIY approach

Two rounds of iterative testing

Engage and empower archival staff users

What It's All For

Collaboration and engagement

Value diverse domains of knowledge

Break down barriers around tech and digital work

Support sustainability of infrastructure

Collaborative Data Modeling

My Role

Data Concerns and Modeling

Systems Integrations

First Steps

Little prior data modeling experience

Knew we wanted to collaborate

Creating a bibliography

Introducing Data Models

Interactive learning sessions

Cross-team groups

Common Ground

Try some wine?

Modeling needs

Group work


The RAC Model

Building off the work of others

Preliminary internal draft


Back To Drawing!

More hands-on sessions with different groups

Informal user testing

Three tasks

Model the data from a single finding aid

Model the data and relationships between the three finding aids

Model the data from two finding aids in relation to an agent (John D. Rockefeller Jr.)


What We Learned This Time

Coworkers want different ways to find information

Break the mold of traditional discovery

Users might not think about data the same as us

The Finishing Touches

Finalize and Serialize

Ask community for comments

Share out


What It's All For

Modeling isn't scary!

Increasing importance of working with data

Greater understanding of our work

Strategic Training


New systems, new processes

Some previous digital accessioning

What will our staff need?


Existing frameworks, like the DigCurV Curriculum Framework

What tools will be used?

What will processes look like?


  1. Digital preservation principles & the role of digital preservation tools
  2. Technical metadata & its role in managing digital objects in a repository
  3. Archivematica's role in the digital preservation environment
  4. Machine-actionable rights statements


What are the current roles in accessioning?

What will those roles look like?


  1. Archivist or manager working with donors
  2. Manager accountable for accessioning
  3. Archivist overseeing accessioning
  4. Archivist assisting accessioning


What external resources are available?

What internal resources are necessary?


How it Went

Not entirely according to plan

Staff felt they had acquired listed competencies

Overall a success

Important Lessons

  • Transparency
  • Diverse Perspectives
  • Dismantle barriers
  • Support new skills
  • Strength through collaboration


Talk to us!

Bonnie Gordon @sosinister

Patrick Galligan @p_galligan

Hannah Sistrunk @HaSistrunk