AtoM Repository Profile: Bethel College Mennonite Library and Archives

Question responses were provided via the Repository Profile Form by John D. Thiesen, Archivist, Co-Director of Libraries for Mennonite Library and Archives, Bethel College on December 12, 2022.


Tool and version, if applicable

Access to Memory 2.6

Type of archives or special collection library?


How did your institution select this archival collection management tool?

Our small consortium had been on Archon and looked in 2019 for something that had a future. We heard negative feedback from a number of archives who had evaluated ArchivesSpace, but positive feedback from several who used AtoM. Also, a Canadian consortium with which we were familiar was using AtoM, so we decided to join them.

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

2020. See question above.

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?)

The primary focus is public access to archival descriptions.

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

I wrote some Python programs to migrated our date from Archon to the already-existing instance of AtoM which we joined. This was a project during covid lockdown in 2020.

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?

Off-site by a vendor

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

None, other than coordinating the varying priorities of consortium members.

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

No, other than including links to digitized materials hosted elsewhere. However, one of our consortium members is experimenting (I think successfully) with connecting AtoM to Islandora.

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

Not really that much difference. The main issue is that Archon was a dead end because it had been abandoned for ArchivesSpace. But AtoM is still being actively maintained.

What is your most favorite feature of this tool?

I don't think I can name one thing in particular. Maybe the fact that it works well in consortial environments.

What is your least favorite feature of this tool?

Only minor critiques about certain details: lack of authority records for non-name access points, sorting order and other limits in drop-down lists, lack of better API access to its functionality, somewhat limited visibility of hierarchical structures of descriptions (labeled "tree view" in AtoM)

Lessons Learned, or tip for prospective users? What is your least favorite feature of this tool?

The major issues in new software or migration are less technical and more policy and procedure or organizational. Although it does help to have someone doing the migration who is comfortable both in programming and archival description.

What features would you want to see added to this tool in the future?

more APIs; more clear integration with DAMs; better visibility of hierarchical structures of collections ("tree view")