Archon Repository Profile: Old Dominion University

Question responses provided by Steven Bookman, University Archivist at Old Dominion University on December 10, 2018


Tool and version, if applicable

Archon 3.21 rev-1

How did your institution select this archival collection management tool?

The Music Special Collections Librarian learned about it in library school and wanted to implement it for both the Music Special Collections as well as the Special Collections and University Archives, the main special collections library on campus.

When and why did you adopt this tool? What system did it replace (if any)?

When: 2013. Why: It was an attempt to simplify and centralize the creation of finding aids as the former process created multiple versions and copies of each finding aid in various formats (Word, static HTML, and semi-manually created EAD XML files). The static HTML pages were placed on the library's website, and the EAD XML files were used to update the finding aids in Virginia Heritage Project, a consortium of finding aids from across Virginia.

Briefly explain how this tool functions at your institution (e.g. do you only use it for accessioning, or does it fill all the functions from accessioning to public access?)

Archon functions as our full collection management system from accessioning to public access.

What pre-installation/migration preparations were taken to facilitate implementation of this tool?

A custom scripting project was undertaken to 1) convert the EAD that was Virginia Heritage Project import-compatible to EAD that could be imported into Archon without error or (much) data loss (Virginia Heritage Project uses a subset of EAD which can produce errors in other systems) and 2) convert the EAD exported by Archon (not the same format as what was imported) to be compatible with Virginia Heritage Project import.

What degree of IT support was needed to implement and migrate into this tool?


Is your collection management tool hosted on-site and in-house or off-site by a vendor?

On-site and in-house

Please describe significant post-implementation challenges using the administrative and/or public interfaces.

The main issue is that you have to manipulate the EAD in Archon no matter if you are importing or exporting data. In other words, when you export EAD from Archon, you have to manipulate it to put it into another system. In searches on the public side, there are certain letter combinations that make the system hang for a long period of time or time out.

Is your institution integrating this tool with other automated request, preservation, or digital asset management systems?

When we scan material from our collections to go into our CONTENTdm digital collections site, we do try to make sure to link from the finding aid to the digital collection and vice versa.

In what ways has using this tool been an improvement over your previous tool or finding aid access strategy?

With our static HTML pages, we were never able to search across finding aids as well as we do now with Archon.

What is your most favorite feature of this tool?

While I do like the search function, the favorite feature of Archon is that fact that it allows you to upload collection content CSV files that most of the other tools out there do not allow you to do.

What is your least favorite feature of this tool?

It is very clicky and there aren't any shortcuts (that I know of) that allow you to speed up the data entry process within Archon.

Lessons learned, or tips for prospective users?

There is a strong learning curve to Archon if you're not used to it. I would recommend taking advantage of using the integrated collection level and collection content level CSV imports, where you can spell check everything in Excel before importing them to Archon (Archon doesn't have spell check for all its fields). The CSV method is good for places with volunteers, students or interns that don't know anything about Archon but do know about Excel.