The Rocky Mountain Online Archive, hosted by the University of New Mexico, is one of three consortia planning for a new network that will improve access to archival collections in the West.

Last fall, the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) awarded a National Leadership Grant to the J. Willard Marriott Library at the University of Utah on behalf of the western regional consortia. In addition to the Rocky Mountain Online Archive, there is the Utah Academic Library Consortium's Mountain West Digital Library and the Orbis Cascade Alliance's Northwest Digital Archives.

This collaborative planning grant is a one-year project, "Planning for a Western Archival Network: Administrative, Technical, and End User Concerns." The consortia on the grant are currently exploring ways to improve user access to archival finding aids describing the archival materials in our three Western regions, possibly via a central western search portal that leverages the Encoded Archival Description (EAD) standard now in use by all of the participating consortia.

Fifteen staff members representing the consortia met at UNM University Libraries in Albuquerque in January to examine ways to create better user experiences and realize cost efficiencies through shared standards, technology and administration. Follow up meetings are planned in Salt Lake City, Utah in April and Portland, Ore. in September.

This project will have national impact for both end users, and the EAD community at large. Once the planning is completed and the methods implemented, end users will have easier and quicker access to both a greater volume and diversity of archival materials. The intent is to provide a model that other organizations can implement so that consortia across the country benefit from reduced costs and increased access to collections.

According to Michael Kelly, RMOA Project Director, "This is a good opportunity to expand access to RMOA by networking with other EAD collaboratives.  Providing one point of access to finding aids from across the West will make it much easier for users to discover our collections."

Based on the grant activities, final recommendations and a report will be released in October 2012. The three consortia hope to pursue additional collaborative funding for the implementation phase of the project.

EAD Consortia Project Partners
The University of New Mexico University Libraries provides the infrastructure for the 30 contributing institutions in New Mexico, Colorado and Wyoming of the Rocky Mountain Online Archive. UNM supports and maintains RMOA as a service to libraries, museums and archives in the three states with the goal of improving access to manuscript and archival collections. Initiated with a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities in 2004, continuing support comes from the UNM University Libraries and the Center for Regional Studies.

The Utah Academic Library Consortium is a 40-year-old consortium of 14 academic libraries in Utah, along with the Utah State Library and affiliate member libraries in Utah, Nevada, and Idaho. UALC partners cooperate in continually improving the availability and delivery of library and information services to the higher education community and to the State of Utah, through fostering research, developing and implementing cooperative library programs; providing a means for the exchange of information on cooperative library ventures; maximizing limited resources by improving library methods and avoiding expensive duplicate purchases; maximizing information delivery through shared use of technology and human resources; and acting as an advocate for excellence in library resources and services. One of the flagship programs of the UALC is the Mountain West Digital Library, a free search portal to 350 digital collections containing more than 650,000 resources about the Mountain West region from 62 partnering libraries, archives, and other cultural heritage institutions. Eight partners of the MWDL maintain EAD files, and several more are involved in creating new EAD collections.

The Orbis Cascade Alliance is a consortium of 36 academic libraries in Oregon and Washington. Alliance member libraries work together to provide outstanding services to students and faculty, share information resources and expertise, develop library staff, and help members allocate financial and human resources to serve the unique needs of each member. To this end, the Alliance considers the combined collections of member institutions as one collection. The Alliance supports a number of services that support this vision, including Summit, a system that allows students, faculty and staff to easily search and request library materials owned by member libraries; courier service offering delivery of library materials in Oregon, Washington and Idaho; the Northwest Digital Archives, which offers enhanced access to primary sources in the Northwest U.S.; cooperative purchasing for databases, ebooks and ejournals; and other digital library services.

Questions / comments may be directed to:

Rocky Mountain Online Archive:
Kathlene Ferris, Digital Programs Manager, (505) 277-7172; email:

University of Utah, J. Willard Marriott Library
Gregory Thompson, Associate Dean for Special Collections & Principal Investigator, (801) 581-3421; email:

Mountain West Digital Library
Sandra McIntyre, program director, (801) 585-0969,

Northwest Digital Archives
Jodi Allison-Bunnell, program manager, (406) 829-6528; email: