New interface for archival finding aids

April 18, 2023

Researchers who use the University of Michigan's Finding Aids site for descriptions and other information about archival collections are in for a new, improved user experience. Our homegrown system has been replaced with ArcLight, an open-source system widely used by academic libraries and archives.

Finding aids describe the contents of archival collection boxes or folders, and help researchers discover and request the materials relevant to their work for viewing in designated reading rooms.

What's new

The new site is cohesive, consistent, accessible, and mobile-friendly, and allows you to more easily search across all collections, or limit your search to just one. Your searches will also surface more related items, since ArcLight will match keywords rather than exact phrases only — and then you can filter those results by repository, collection, creator, date, names, place, subject, and format. You can also restrict your search to only those materials that are digitized and available online.

Feedback on the beta version, which has been publicly available for preview since December 2022, was overwhelmingly positive, with particular praise for the easier-to-use interface, broader search capabilities, and search result filtering options.

Library finding aids, listing repositories from the Bentley Library, U-M Special Collections Research Center, and the Clements Library.

What stays the same

You'll continue to use the existing request systems, which vary by partner library, and your user account remains the same (as does the process for creating one). The content of the finding aids, for the most part, is also unchanged — with new finding aids added as they're created.

The Finding Aids system includes information about the archives of the U-M Library Special Collections Research Center, the Bentley Historical Library, the William L. Clements Library, and others. 


by Robyn Ness


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