Background on PRESNET

The Ford Library became the test site for the prototype of the Presidential Libraries Information Network (PRESNET) in April 1986. Ever since, the staff has been using the system for all new descriptive work and retrospective conversion of finding aids produced in earlier years.

PRESNET consists of a series databases covering many aspects of archival work. The principal module allows archivists to enter detailed descriptions of collections and their individual series and folders. All information appearing in traditional collection inventories is included as are folder-level page counts, date spans, and subject index terms drawn from a thesaurus. Sub-modules permit the creation of transfer or withdrawal sheets for items moved to other locations or temporarily closed to research. Additional modules allow archivists to track contacts with potential donors and create accession records.

The reference database contains collection and series-level descriptions for each open collections and folder-level records for all but a few collections. As of April 1999, the 63,000 description records index 5200 linear feet of material in 200 different collections. Nearly 90% of the Library's open materials are described at the folder-level with the Ford Congressional Papers comprising three-fourths of the undescribed backlog.

The searching software permits both simple and boolean searches using controlled vocabulary indexing terms (view a list of indexing terms currently in use in the database) and/or natural text. Search reports list, collection-by-collection, all series and folders containing material on a topic. Researchers cannot search the database directly through the Internet, but can request that search reports be mailed to them. To request a search, please contact the Ford Library.

Hardware and Software
PRESNET runs on a Dell PowerEdge R710 running Windows Server 2008r2. It can be accessed for both searching and data entry from any personal computer on the Library's local area network. PRESNET employs the SEEK database software developed by GP Solutions, Inc. of Baltimore, MD, and the UniData relational database management system from Ardent Software, Inc. of Westboro, MA.