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Archon Matrix

Page history last edited by Amy Schindler 15 years, 2 months ago


Home Page


Developed by

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Library and University of Illinois Archives,

Sousa Archives and Center for American Music

Developer’s Description

"Archon is predicated on the notion that a unified, web-based application is a lynchpin in expanding access to archival descriptive information, digital objects, and electronic records.  In this sense, Archon can be thought of as a Content Management System (CMS) that allows archives and manuscript repositories to describe and provide access to the totality of their holdings.  Like most content management systems, Archon requires only a set of very common, free technologies (a webserver running PHP 5.0 or higher and a database server, such as MySQL.)”


“It automatically publishes archival descriptive information and digital archival objects to a user-friendly website. With Archon, there is no need to encode a finding aid, input a catalog record, or program a stylesheet. Archon's powerful scripts will automatically make everything in the system searchable and browseable on your repository's website!


Archon will simplify your workflow and save you time. Once you've input or edited information using some simple web forms, Archon automatically uploads the files, publishes the website, and generates EAD and MARC records.”


Illinois Open Source License

Purchasing Cost


Maintenance Cost


User Support

  • Listserv
  • User forums
  • Web site
  • Responsive developers
  • User manual


Proposal for Archon workshop submitted to SAA

System Requirements


A recent web browser on any platform



  • blank MySQL or Microsoft SQL Server database

a webserver (of any type) running PHP 5.0 or higher.

Technical Architecture

Web-based platform built using PHP 5.0 and SQL database as back end

Backup/ restore utility

“export the entire database for backup purposes, and restore data from a backup files or using a user- defined SQL script.”



Archon 1.0 released August 2006. Archon 2.1 released April 2008, Archon 2.2 to be released July 2008, Archon 2.22 released March 2009

Hosting Available?


Demo/ Sandbox Available?

Yes: http://www.archon.org/sandbox.php


Currently supported by University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. A winner of the 2008 Mellon Award for Technology Collaboration.


Will develop sustainability plan.


Example Users

"A substantial user community has emerged; the software has been downloaded 900 times, installed or upgraded over 600 times, and at least 30 ‘production’ applications currently running or planned."

List of implementors from the Archon site

College of William & Mary, Florida State University Heritage Protocol, Purdue University, Southern Illinois at Carbondale, Florida Center for Automation, San Diego State, University of Iowa, Wheaton College, Bethel College, Missouri Historical Society

Unique strengths

  1. Makes it easy for archives to publish finding aids online
  2. Optimized for Google so content is easy to discover
  3. Ease of data entry
  4. Digital library module supports linking digital files to finding aids
  5. Low development overhead/cost
  6. Facilitates access to and reuse of archival information and digital objects
  7. Encourages efficient descriptive practices

Support for Importing/ Exporting Metadata

Exports MARC


Exports EAD


Exports Dublin Core


Exports MODS


Exports METS


Exports MADS


Batch Exports EAD

Batch exporters planned for the next post 2.2 release.

Batch Exports MARC


Batch Export Tab Delimited Files


Imports EAD


Imports MARC

Yes, including batch import

Imports Tab Delimited Files/ CSV

Yes: CSV

Imports Digital Image Files


Import Accession Data

Batch import data from MARC, EAD (XML) or CSV format.

Batch Import EAD


Batch Import MARC


Batch Import CSV


Collection Management Features





  • “Enter basic information for recently received materials.”
  • “Link accessions to one or more existing collections or record groups.”
  • “Transfer basic accession records into collections records for further editing.”
  • “List unprocessed materials in an 'accessions manager'.”

Create Deeds of Gift


Prioritize Processing Order


Track Donors


Project Management


Record Condition

An AV Preservation Assessment module is expected in June 2009.

Manage Locations

Yes: “Track room, range, section, and shelf locations for each collection.”

Manage Restricted Materials


Manage Rights

Not really, although there is a rights field

Manage Loans & Exhibits




Reference Support

Not really, but Archon allows archives to “Manage information related to researcher accounts and appointments established by researchers.”

“Users can register accounts, place collections, series, folders and items into a virtual cart, email the list to the archives, and establish appointment times. The menus in this area allow the Archon administrator to view and edit information related to researcher accounts, carts, and logins.”


Generate Reports


Track Repository Statistics


Resource Description

Authority Control


  • “Develop creator authorities and controlled subject lists, and link them to collections and digital objects.”
  • “Create and edit creator and subject authority records, which may be linked to classifications, collections, or digital objects. Changes made to authority records will automatically propagate to associated collections or digital objects.”

Controlled vocabulary


Compliance to Archival Standards


Data Validation


Templating/ Default Fields

Yes: “Templates control the particular data elements that appear on a particular page. They are not intended to control display properties such as layout, colors and fonts.”

Support for Digital Media

Yes: “Upload digital objects/electronic records or link archival descriptions to external URLs.”


Yes: currently offers Spanish and English interfaces; French and Italian being considered


Flexibility of Data Model

  • “Define "Repository Level" information such as address, contact information, and overall arrangement scheme.”
  • “Define record groups or other classifications.”
  • Archon’s data model can accommodate any organizational hierarchy

Item-level Description

Yes: “Describe the series, subseries, files, items, etc. within each collection.”

Reorganize Hierarchies

Yes: you can transfer levels to another point in hierarchy

Dynamically generate EAD finding aids


Publish finding aids online


Administrative Functions

User Permissions


  • “Add edit, or delete user accounts, allowing or denying people access to the staff interface.”
  • Different levels of permission depending on user type

Support for Harvesting/ Syndication


Customization/ Configuration


  • “Create new output templates to show the data in any way you choose (2 such templates are included with the current Archon Distribution packet).”
  • My Preferences: Change password, select administrative interface language, and set display order for the user’s staff ‘homepage.’”
  • Phrase Manger: set and change staff interface labels, error messages, and help texts.”


Spell Check


Bug Reporting


Interoperability with Digital Repository Systems

Not yet, but plans to Increase interoperability with other systems using OAI and SWORD technologies

User Interface

Web Publishing

“Archon automatically publishes a website containing collection-level descriptions, full finding aids, and linked digital objects. Regardless of which browser you use to create and edit records, Archon’s end-user output can be viewed with any web browser.”


End users can:

“* View, download and use digital objects/electronic records.

    * Easily navigate from digital objects to archival descriptions and vice versa.

    * Jump easily between collections and digital objects sharing the same subject, creator, or archival record group.”


Archon plans “to investigate the addition of a 'user annotation' feature so that archival end users can submit comments



Yes: End users can “browse materials by collection title, digital object title, controlled subject heading, creator authority record, or archival record group.”

  • “provides hyperlinks to other collections and digital objects that are related by provenance, subject, or creator.”
  • “Unlike the traditional archival finding aid, which spreads “collection-level” descriptive information over several pages, Archon provides links to all essential information “above the fold” in the web-browser, so that users do not need to scroll to find essential information.”[1]



  • “Search queries can be entered against either collection-level records or the full content of finding aids (including box and folder lists).”
  • “Simultaneously search descriptions of archival materials, electronic records, and digital objects.”
  • “View, print, and search finding aids for individual collections.”

Advanced Search

Yes: phrase-based searching, can exclude terms.

Search filter so that you don’t have to scroll to find information.


  • Yes: Non technical staff can modify Archon’s themes and customize the interface if they know a little HTML and PHP
  • Archon plans to "undertake usability studies and develop new administrative and end-user themes."

Built-in Help

Yes: “Use an integrated help system by clicking the help buttons”

Link to Images & Other Files

Yes: “"The digital library [module] is used to link to external digital objects and to directly upload digital objects and electronic records into the system. Linked or uploaded objects can be associated with individual collections or any subordinate parts of a collection (e.g. series, items, files) which have been entered. Hyperlinks between the digital object and the associated collection automatically appear in the public website."

Easy Data Entry

Yes: “edit descriptive information directly from an enhanced public interface by clicking the edit icon: Archon pencil image.”

  • When a user begins typing a controlled-subject term, Archon filters a list of potential terms, allowing the user to select the appropriate one.


[1] Prom et al., “A Unified Platform for Archival Description and Access,” 161.

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