This year’s SAA schedule was really great and varied. Two of my favorite sessions were about community archive projects: a panel on SAADA Archivists’ Collective and a talk by Gabriel Solis from the Texas After Violence Project. But one session that really resonated with the work I’ve been doing the past year (and more) here was “Standards for Sustainability: Ensuring Sustainable Programs with It Takes a Village.”
The panel focused on the It Takes a Village (ITAV) Guidebook - an overview of the sustainability of open source programs released by Lyrasis in 2018 - and, in addition to the representative from Lyrasis, included speakers from many open source programs in which the RAC is involved. This included ArchivesSpace, a system we implemented in 2014, and a community which we have been an active member of since 2013; Artefactual Systems, the developers of Archivematica, which we have been using for nearly a decade and whose user community we have actively participated in during that time; and Fedora, which we have implemented as part of Project Electron.
The ITAV Guidebook breaks open source software sustainability into four facets: governance, technology, community engagement, and resources. Additionally, it defines three phases, which can be applied to each facet or the program as a whole: getting started; growing/getting established; and stable, but not static. Each person on the panel went through the facets and corresponding phases of their program. Watching the presentations, I compared my experience with how the programs described themselves, and thought about how this model applied to other open source communities the RAC is engaged with. I also reflected on the work I’ve done in the past two years to more actively and intentionally engage in the Archivematica user community and my role in helping to organize the upcoming Archivematica User Forum, and the sustainability of Archivematica. And I thought about other open source systems which I’ve been involved in the user community and in governance, and how the ITAV framework was a useful way of articulating areas of strength and weakness that I noticed.
The RAC is committed to participating in open source communities. It’s worth reflecting on what sustainability requires for open source communities, and how we can help make those communities sustainable. Thinking through the governance, community engagement, technology, and resources of projects we currently use or may use will help us best use our resources to contribute to the archival and open source communities, as well as realize when our attention may be better focused on other projects.