UC San Diego Librarian Wins Archival Award of Excellence for Archivists' Toolkit

Bradley Westbrook honored for leadership in developing revolutionary software application for archives

May 20, 2009 – Bradley Westbrook, head of the Metadata Analysis and Specification Unit in the UC San Diego Libraries, has received the "Archival Award of Excellence" from the California Historical Records Advisory Board for the leadership role he has played in developing the Archivists' Toolkit (AT), a technological software innovation that has had a dramatic impact on archival work. The award, funded by the Society of California Archivists, Inc., is the second award received by Westbrook for his visionary efforts in creating the AT.

The AT, funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, is the first open-source data-management system to provide broad, integrated support for the management of archives. In 2002, Westbrook co-authored a California Digital Library white paper describing the need for an archivists' collection information management tool. Since its inception in 2004, Westbrook has served as the AT project manager. The toolkit, which has been rapidly adopted by archivists in California, the nation, and across the globe, is a collaborative effort between UC San Diego Libraries, New York University Libraries, and the Five Colleges, Inc. Libraries. Brian E.C. Schottlaender, the Audrey Geisel University Librarian at UCSD Libraries serves as co-principal investigator for the project, along with Carol Mandel, Dean of Libraries at NYU.

In its award notification, the California Historical Records Advisory Board (CHRAB) recognized "the impact that the Archivists' Toolkit is having in California and beyond." In addition, the board noted how the AT "is fostering community, collaboration, and communication throughout the archival profession."

According to Harvard University archivist Kate Bowers, who was one of several archivists at academic institutions to nominate Westbrook, not only is the AT "collaborative in nature, the application is universal in adaptability. The AT may be used both in small repositories with limited resources and in large, well-financed institutions. As an open-source application with provisions for sharing the results of software development, the AT will result in ever more cooperation across the profession."

Presenting the award at the Society of California Archivist's annual meeting, Nancy Lenoil, CHRAB chair, recognized Westbrook's deep roots working in special collections. Lenoil noted his previous archival and manuscript positions at Kent State University, Columbia University, and at the UCSD Libraries where he was an early implementor of Encoded Archival Description.

Last year, the AT received the C.F.W. Coker Award from the Society of American Archivists for its "tremendous impact on archival practice and promotion and adoption of descriptive standards.

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