ICA-AtoM Case Study: Leeds and the Thousand Islands Archive

08 Aug 2011 4:35 PM | Danielle Robichaud

While we wait for the new version of Archeion to become available, this post features an interview with Erika Heesen, who is using the ICA-AtoM software to provide online access to descriptions of the materials at the Leeds and the Thousand Islands Archives.

1) Tell us a little bit about your archive and its materials.

The mandate of the Leeds and the Thousand Islands Archives is to acquire, preserve, promote and make available the historical record of the Township of Leeds and the Thousand Islands. We are a township located in the United Counties of Leeds and Grenville, just east of Kingston, Ontario.

We hold materials from the former Township of the Rear of Leeds and Lansdowne, the former Township of Escott, and the Leeds & 1000 Islands Historical Society (representing the former Township of the Front of Leeds and Lansdowne). This includes letters, diaries, municipal documents, maps, drawings, postcards, and photographs.

2) Why did you decide to use ICA-AtoM?

We wanted an online, searchable catalogue for our collections. We did not have any computer software/database in place before, though we did have a card catalogue and paper accession register. We did not have a budget for purchasing software, so I did a survey of available open source software for archives (e.g. Archivist's Toolkit, Collective Access, CollectionSpace) and concluded that ICA-AtoM was the program that best suited our needs for making the collection available online and adhering to the standards of the Rules for Archival Description.

3) How did you find the installation process?

The installation process was fairly straightforward. Some of the documentation for the installation was written from a very technical standpoint, but we also had the benefit of the Library IT person's expertise in setting up a computer to run as our server for the database and website. Upgrading the software from 1.09 to 1.1 was more difficult, and required assistance from ICA-AtoM staff.

4) What benefits do you see from using this software?

ICA-AtoM is designed very well for archival description using RAD. I also quite like the pop up boxes that list the relevant rule from the RAD manual. The two main benefits that I see from using ICA-AtoM are the ease with which descriptions can be made available online, and encouraging standards, both in actual data entry/creation of descriptions, but also in providing xml exports that can be easily transferred.

5) Are there any disadvantages?

There is yet to be an accessioning module, and there really is a need for one, particularly when handling accruals to a fonds or collection. I understand that this is to be included in the next software release.

Thanks to Erika for sharing her experiences.

Address: 411 Richmond Street East, Suite 200, Toronto, ON M5A 3S5

Phone: 647-343-3334 | Email: aao@aao-archivists.ca


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