Archives (or Archival) Collections Management System Primer
What is an Archives (or Archival) Collections Management System?
An archives (or archival) collections management system (CMS) is software used by archives staff to “…organize, control, and manage their collections’ objects by tracking all information related to and about those objects.” Wikipedia
The ideal archives collections management system supports archivists in their mission to identify records of enduring value, to preserve them, and to make them available to patrons. The CMS is used by collections staff to record detailed information about objects and make that information accessible and useful to other departments within the parent organization, as well as to donors, and to researchers and the public.
Behind the Scenes Support System
Archivists face many challenges to processing and managing collections, often with not quite enough staff and not quite enough other resources. Importantly, they need tools that help them sort through and manage unprocessed collections, not least because to ensure funding, making collections visible is crucial.
For optimal workflow and operational efficiency, archivists require faster collections processing, increased flexibility for searching across collections, and capabilities to expand access, such as an easy way to generate navigable EAD finding aids.
Public Access, Visibility, Discovery
Researchers, visitors, and digital visitors expect to find information about archival collections easily. To help them, archivists need a system that lets users retrieve information quickly and precisely … and search across collections. Today’s archivists also want to deliver supporting content, often multimedia, that helps archives users better understand the precious materials in the collections. For access anywhere, anytime, the CMS should be web-based and support all mobile devices, via all browsers.
Past Constraints; Looking Forward
While some archivists try to make do with spreadsheets, Word files, rudimentary in-house software, library automation systems, or open source software that often requires a great deal of costly customization and ongoing maintenance, these tools have many limitations for archives … and they don’t meet professional archival standards.
The best archival collections management systems deliver powerful, purpose-built functionality out-of-the-box—while being easily configurable it for an archives’ unique needs with no expensive consulting, no expensive programmers, and no time-consuming training.
How do you Evaluate and Select an Archives Collections Management System?
Look for an archives collections management system that allows you to:
- Adhere to archival description standards with ease
- Offer a great, customized user experience, with no coding required
- Leverage best practice archives collections management workflows
- Create and manage easily navigable hierarchies and generate finding aids
- Manage research request intake and fulfillment, even integrating with email for optimal
- communication, and automatically building a request database for re-use
Early archives collections management systems were basically cataloging databases—digital versions of card catalogs. Today, with a collections management application such as Lucidea’s ArchivEra, archivists can optimize workflows, communication, and effectiveness and actually transform the process of visitor engagement with objects and artifacts.
Lucidea’s solutions go well beyond basic and traditional collections management. They are purpose-built to a higher standard, enabling archivists to tackle today’s challenges and anticipate tomorrow’s successes.
Making Archives Accessible: Open Your Doors to the World
ArchivEra offers the newest web-based technology and integration, the easiest information access and discovery capabilities, the highest levels of security, simple system administration, unprecedented flexibility and independence, exceptional value, and the best possible user experience.
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Lucidea’s archives collections management solutions—purpose-built to a higher standard. Meet today’s challenges and anticipate tomorrow’s.