“The archive’s catalog currently holds more than 120 million digital records, as well as “archival metadata and other types of records, including electronic databases.” However, the system has “an unsophisticated search” function, according to a request for information.
While NARA employees add metadata tags to digital records, “There is a delta between what NARA has been able to describe and the specific information that users want from our records,” the RFI states, asking, “Can AI fill the gap?”
During an informational day held in early April, NARA executives outlined some of the challenge, including a single search returning a flood of results from the same source—making it difficult to sift through to find multiple sources—and difficulty distinguishing between records with similar names, such as a search for “Truman” the president versus “Truman” the aircraft carrier.
The current search function also is not able to return accurate results if the search term input is not exactly the same as it exists in the metadata.
The RFI is seeking feedback on automated solutions that can analyze how users search the digital archives and associate those search terms with the appropriate record….”