Small Staff, Big Impact:
Preserving the Past with ArchivEra Essentia

An ArchivEra Essentia Success Story

Echuca Historical Society Goals

  • Intuitive system with minimal training required
  • Collection organization, structure,
    and accessibility
  • Remote working ability
“The speed of uploading and rapid data entry is the best thing since sliced bread. Everybody who uses the system loves it.”
Dot Hammond
The Echuca Historical Society in Victoria, Australia is a local history museum, focused on recording the early settlement along the Murray River, with an extensive collection including photos and archives going back to the early 19th century. Available to peruse are river charts, records of floods, information on paddle steamers that traveled up and down the Murray, and materials that tell the stories of the men and women who made their life in Echuca. Visitors will see photographs of early river crossings and early transport including bullock teamsters and railways, alongside images of the first settlers in the area. There are also costume collections, and an outdoor area with stationary engines, horse drawn transport equipment, and other items relating to forestry, farming, and life on the land.

The Echuca Historical Society originally used DB/Textworks but over time found themselves needing a collections management system with more flexibility to organize and structure their holdings, in addition to being Web-based and vendor-hosted (SaaS) since they do not have local IT support. They explored ArchivEra and its suitability for their collection, seeking the input of peer colleagues who use it—and given their positive experience with Lucidea, which began in the late 1990s, it was an easy decision to migrate to ArchivEra. They were able to take advantage of Lucidea’s “Essentia” program, which makes high-end solutions affordable because it is tailored to the budgets of small-but-mighty organizations and/or departments, with solutions “right-sized” to fit their financial and functional requirements.

The Society is staffed by volunteers, several of whom were not comfortable using the earlier system; notably, they are all “coming on very nicely” with ArchivEra, according to Ms. Hammond, and as a team, they are inputting over 1,000 entries each week. One current project involves adding all the records from the local hospital, with information going back to the 1830s. The database includes primarily print materials, but they now look forward to adding their sizeable collection of images.

Ms. Hammond tells us the implementation and training was excellent, and the system is very intuitive. Another significant benefit for the staff is the ability to work remotely, as several of the volunteers work from home. The powerful searching capabilities in ArchivEra really improve their workflow and knowledge of the collection.

Although they considered offering a public portal or otherwise expressing the database through their website, Ms. Hammond has decided not to at this time, instead preferring to offer several onsite computers for visitor use. This way, the Society staff can interact with and assist users in their research on family history—the most common interest—while benefiting from visitor revenue, which is critical since they do not have municipal funding or sponsors.

Everything in their collection is donated and evaluated for inclusion by the Collections Manager; since they are a local history museum, items must come from within the Echuca Moama 40 km radius. In addition to their collection, the Society offers research services, advisory services, walking tours, and guest speakers. The information they are now able to organize, structure, and access within ArchivEra supports all these activities.

Notably, the Echuca Historical Society has received a number of accolades, including the below. Lucidea is very proud to number them among our heritage organization clients.

  • 2014 Certificate of Accreditation – Museums Australia (Victoria)
  • 2014 Australia Day Award – Arts Group of the Year-Echuca & District
  • 2018 Finalist Victorian Tidy Towns – Culture & Sustainability
  • Recognition Statement of Sustainability and Reconciliation
  • 2019 DWELP Award for recognition of outstanding contribution to the local community
  • 2020 Certificate of Accreditation – Museums Australia (Victoria)

In closing, Ms. Hammond told us, “Lucidea’s excellent client support is the biggest thing, and their understanding of the requirements and constraints unique to the heritage sector is very helpful. We are a little country museum staffed mainly by volunteers. We now know what we have, and where it is. ArchivEra Essentia and the Client Services team take the pressure off.”

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