An Exploration of Finding Aid Technologies and NoSQL Databases

Stephanie Fan


While NoSQL databases, specifically document databases such as MongoDB, are not the answer for the majority of storage use cases, technical contributors to the major finding aids information systems should consider these new technologies. The conjunction of archival finding aids technologies and these new data stores has not yet been explored before given the highly siloed nature of the library, archival, and information sciences (LAIS) field and limited development resources that focus on this area. However, there are many similarities between the problems that LAIS system administrators face maintaining descriptive documents and the reasons for why this new class of non-relational databases was developed.


archival studies; information studies; NoSQL; MongoDB; finding aids; schema design; formats

Full Text:



Abramova, V., & Bernardino, J. (2013). NoSQL databases: MongoDB vs. Cassandra. In Proceedings of the International C* Conference on Computer Science and Software Engineering (pp. 14–22). ACM. Retrieved from

Abramova, V., Bernardino, J., & Furtado, P. (2014). Experimental evaluation of NoSQL databases. International Journal of Database Management Systems, 6(3), 01–16. doi:10.5121/ijdms.2014.6301

ArchivesSpace. (2010, June). Original technical architecture report. Retrieved from

Atzeni, P., Jensen, C. S., Orsi, G., Ram, S., Tanca, L., & Torlone, R. (2013). The relational model is dead, SQL is dead, and I don’t feel so good myself. SIGMOD Rec., 42(2), 64–68. doi:10.1145/2503792.2503808

Canadian Committee on Archival Description. (2008, July 8). Rules for Archival Description. Retrieved February 15, 2015, from

Cattell, R. (2011). Scalable SQL and NoSQL data stores. SIGMOD Rec., 39(4), 12–27. doi:10.1145/1978915.1978919

Combs, M., Matienzo, M. A., Proffitt, M., & Spiro, L. (2010). Over, under, around, and through getting around barriers to EAD implementation. Dublin, Ohio: OCLC Research. Retrieved from

Floratou, A., Teletia, N., DeWitt, D. J., Patel, J. M., & Zhang, D. (2012). Can the elephants handle the NoSQL onslaught? Proceedings of the VLDB Endowment, 5(12), 1712–1723.

Higgins, R. (1998). A case study of EAD implementation at Durham University Library Archives and Special Collections. Archives and Museum Informatics, 12(3-4), 221–234. doi:10.1023/A:1009011404871

Indrawan-Santiago, M. (2012). Database research: Are we at a crossroad? Reflection on NoSQL. In 2012 15th International Conference on Network-Based Information Systems (NBiS) (pp. 45–51). doi:10.1109/NBiS.2012.95

International Council on Archives & Committee on Descriptive Standards. (1999). ISAD(G): general international standard archival description : adopted by the Ad Hoc Commission on Descriptive Standards, Stockholm, Sweden, 19-22 September 1999. Ottawa: [Committee on Descriptive Standards].

Library of Congress. (2013) Encoded Archival Description version 2002 official site | Development of the Encoded Archival Description DTD. Retrieved February 10, 2015, from

Mitchell, E. T. (2013). Chapter 1: Metadata developments in libraries and other cultural heritage institutions. Library Technology Reports, 49(5), 5–10.

Nance, C., Losser, T., Iype, R., & Harmon, G. (2013). NoSQL vs RDBMS – why there is room for both. In Proceedings of the Southern Association for Information Systems Conference (pp. 111–116). Retrieved from

solid IT. (2015, February). DB-engines ranking - popularity ranking of database management systems. Retrieved February 18, 2015 from

Van Garderen, P. (2009). The ICA-AtoM project and technology. Retrieved from

Wikipedia. (2009). NoSQL. Retrieved December 27, 2014 from

Yaco, S. (2008). It’s complicated: Barriers to EAD implementation. American Archivist, 71(2), 456–475.


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2015 Stephanie Fan