Building a National Finding Aid Network

"Building a National Finding Aid Network" (NAFAN) is a research and demonstration project (2020-2023), rooted in the goal of providing inclusive, comprehensive, and persistent access to descriptions of archival collections or "finding aids." We believe we can more sustainably manage and provide access to these materials by developing a large-scale, national finding aid network that is community-driven, -sustained, and -governed.

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Project Reports and Resources

OCLC Research Reports

OCLC published five reports in May 2023 comprising the complete set of research findings from the project:  

  • Summary of Research: Synthesizes findings from across all research activities on the NAFAN project
  • Pop-up Survey: Summarizes results from a national survey of online archive users on their search behavior, information needs, and demographic characteristics
  • User Interviews: Details findings from interviews with archival aggregation end users on their information needs and information-seeking behavior 
  • Focus Group Interviews: Shares outcomes from focus group discussions with archivists to examine their needs for describing collections and contributing description to an archival aggregation 
  • EAD Analysis: Analyzes EAD data as raw material for building a finding aid aggregation by looking for common data structures present and probing for gaps that could impede user discovery  

Shift Collective “Increasing Discovery of Archives" Workshop Report

Shift Collective staged a two-day workshop in December 2021, “Increasing National Discovery of Archives,” inviting the input of people whose work is centered on community-based cultural memory projects, to inform NAFAN’S development and implementation of a national network of archival descriptions. The workshop also aimed to identify ways that NAFAN might offer services, support, and advocacy to community-based archives, or might help meet the needs of researchers to better discover and access those collections. This report summarizes input from participants who attended the workshop. 

EAD Data Dashboard

This dashboard provides a summary of EAD finding aid data, represented within US-based regional/state finding aid aggregations as of November 2020-January 2021.

This project was made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, through grant LG-246349-OLS-20. The IMLS is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s libraries and museums. To learn more, visit