CollectiveAccess Repository Profile: Center for Puerto Rican Studies

Question responses provided by Lindsay Wittwer, Digital Archivist, on February 7, 2019.


Tool and version, if applicable

Collective Access

How did your institution select this archival collection management tool?

The system customization capabilities met our needs and some of the features, such as displaying records in a timeline or map, were a strong draw. We also like the fact that it was open source and has a strong user base where we are located in NYC.

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

We worked directly with the tool developer, Whirl-i-gig, beginning in 2015 to customize our instance and begin to populate it with existing digital assets. The front end site went live in November 2016. Prior to implementing CA there was no system for aggregating the digital files or any associated metadata. Centro also wanted to make our digital holdings publicly available.

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?)

Public access and managing of digital assets is how the tool is used. There were existing procedures tracking accessions and the physical collections that have remained in place, although we build in some redundancy to help maintain the link between analog and digital material.

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 back and front end is pretty intuitive to use and user friendly. We had a recurring bug with our videos where they were playing behind the header that took kind of a long time to get resolved because as soon as we thought it was fixed, it would start to pop up again. It was a problem very specific to our instance.

What is your most favorite feature of this tool?

The batch editing capabilities and quick editing capabilities have been really helpful to review, edit and publish a lot of records at once, something we commonly do. Supporting the editing capabilities, the ability to create "sets" of records from across collections and/or subsets within collections is incredibly useful.

What is your least favorite feature of this tool?

At least in our instance, I cannot search by object representation records (i.e. the records for the media files.) 

Lessons learned, or tips for prospective users?

This system is highly configurable/customizable and used by both archives and museums, so having a clear idea of what your repository's needs are in terms of standards used/features wanted/workflows so you have a clear game plan will make implementation smoother.