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CollectiveAccess Matrix

Page history last edited by Lisa Spiro 14 years, 2 months ago


Home Page


Developed by

Whirl-i-Gig, along with partner institutions

Developer’s Description

Formely known as OpenCollection, CollectiveAccess is “a full-featured collections management and online access application for museums, archives and digital collections. It is designed to handle large, heterogeneous collections that have complex cataloguing requirements and require support for a variety of metadata standards and media formats. Unlike most other collections management applications, CollectiveAccess is completely web-based. All cataloging, search and administrative functions are accessed using common web-browser software, untying users from specific operating systems and making cataloguing by distributed teams and online access to collections information simple, efficient and inexpensive.”


GNU General Public License (GPL) version 2

Purchasing Cost


Maintenance Cost


User Support

  • FAQ
  • Web site
  • Forum
  • Mailing list
  • CollectiveAccessUser's Guide and System Administrators Guide are being prepared
  • TRAC/ development wiki


Available from developers. Cost is based upon location and desired scope of training.

System Requirements

  • User: Any operating system that can run a modern web browser (including Mac OS X, Windows 2000/2003/XP, Linux, BSD* and Solaris) is supported.  Does not require a live Internet connection. “It can just as easily be run on an internal-access-only network as on a public one. In fact, the majority of users we are aware of run CollectiveAccess on internal networks without Internet access. A few users even taken this one step further and run CollectiveAccess on their laptops in a "network of one" single-user configuration.”
  • Server: “The CollectiveAccess server software should run on any Unix-like operating system as well as Windows 2003 Server and Windows XP. This covers all commonly deployed operating systems. CollectiveAccess is tested on several distributions of Linux (Debian, Red Hat Enterprise Linux, SuSE), Windows 2003, Windows XP and Mac OS X 10.4.”

Technical Architecture

Written in PHP and MySQL

Backup/ restore utility

Backup and restore is possible using free tools bundled with MySQL.


Work on what became CollectiveAccessbegan in 2003.  The first public release, version 0.50, was made available in March of 2007.  Version 0.54 released on May 31, 2008

Hosting Available?

No CollectiveAccess-specific hosting services are available at this time. A commercial vendor in Belgium is considering such a service for debut in 2009. However, CollectiveAccess has been designed for compatibility with low-cost internet service providers such as 1and1 Internet, Pair Networks, HostMySite.com, etc.

Demo/ Sandbox Available?



Project is supported by a diverse group of museums, historical societies, archives and corporate archives in the US and Europe.

Example Users

Royal Museum for Central Africa, Tervuren, Belgium; Berkeley Natural History Museums,

University of California, Berkeley; Coney Island History Project; Durst Organization; Parrish Art Museum

Unique Features

  • Customizable
  • Flexible data model accommodates many different types of collections and supports different data standards and controlled vocabularies
  • Robust support for multimedia, including images, audio, video, and text.  Built-in tool for zooming and panning images. When you upload audio files, they are automatically converted to MP3. Provides simple support for time-based cataloging.
  • Web-based, which facilitates distributed cataloging and enables administrative users to do enter metadata and search collections online


Support for Importing/ Exporting Metadata

Exports MARC

Not yet, but due with next release

Exports EAD

Not yet, but due with next release

Exports Dublin Core

Not yet, but due with next release

Exports MODS

Not yet, but MODS import and export planned for upcoming release.

Exports METS

Not yet, but METS import and export planned for upcoming release.

Exports MADS

Not yet, but MADS import and export planned for upcoming release.

Batch Exports EAD

Not yet, but due with next release

Batch Exports MARC

Not yet, but due with next release

Batch Export Tab Delimited Files

Not yet, but due with next release

Imports EAD

Not yet, but due with next release

Imports MARC

Not yet, but due with next release

Imports Tab Delimited Files/ CSV

Not yet, but due with next release

Imports Digital Image Files

Yes: “Batch upload of media files. The "File Space" is a holding area for media files to be added to object records. Using a web-browser-based user interface media may be uploaded to the File Space in large batches (as ZIP, Tar-GZip or GZip encoded archives) for subsequent cataloguing. In most cases this is considerably faster than uploading media file-by-file.”

Import Accession Data

Not yet, but due with next release

Batch Import EAD

Not yet, but due with next release

Batch Import MARC

Not yet, but due with next release

Batch Import CSV

Not yet, but due with next release

Collection Management Features


Yes: appraisal documentation


Y: “Tools for managing accession numbering, tracking of object donor information and lot-level cataloguing for use by collection registrars are included.” The “lots” facility provides these functions; it is also possible to configure OC to create unique accession numbers according to a pattern and to enforce standards for accession numbers. See http://trac.opencollection.org/wiki/IDNumbers and http://trac.opencollection.org/wiki/MultipartIDNumber

Create Deeds of Gift

Yes: “Printable form letters for registrarial functions” planned for September 15, 2008 release

Prioritize Processing Order


Track Donors


Project Management

There are no formal project management features, although this is something that has been discussed for 2009. There are quite a lot of de-facto project management features in there already in the form of tagging of items.

Record Condition

Yes: custodial notes

Manage Locations

Yes: “managing a hierarchy of storage locations and recording current and previous locations of objects”


Manage Restricted Materials


Manage Rights

Yes: “recording acquisition of use rights and licensing of use rights for objects”

Manage Loans & Exhibits

Partial: can record loans in note field, but fuller support planned for future release.


Yes: de-accessioning field

Reference Support

The system does not currently track how many times a record has been viewed. It may be added in a future release however; it is not difficult to do.

Generate Reports

Yes. “The search engine's support for Boolean combination, exclusion, wildcards and field-level limiting makes it possible to pose very specific queries suitable for reporting. The result of any search in CollectiveAccess may be downloaded as a tab-delimited file suitable for import into Microsoft Excel or similar applications for reporting purposes. The list of report fields and their output order may be customized.” An improved version is coming in v0.6

Track Repository Statistics

A project participant, Seth van Hooland, is working on the creating of metadata quality assessment tools for integration into OC as part of his Ph.D. work. Some these tools, at least, will be integrated into OC this fall.

Resource Description

Authority Control

“CollectiveAccess has a full set of tools for managing and cataloguing with the following types of authority lists:


    * Entities authority. An authority list for individual people, groups and corporations.

    * Place name authority. A hierarchical authority list for geographic place names. Supports an unlimited number of independent place hierarchies, enabling side-by-side usage of established authorities such as the Getty TGN and self-built authorities for local areas.

    * "Occurrences" authority. A flexible authority for "things" that are not entities or geographic place names. The occurrences authority is a sort of "construction kit" for non-hierarchical authorities. You may define any number of occurrence types with each type manifesting itself in the system as a distinct authority. This allows the creation of any number of very specific authority lists. Typical applications of occurrences are to support authorities for film productions, expeditions, exhibitions and events such as wars, storms, elections, etc., but any flat authority list can be implemented using occurrences.

    * Collections authority. An authority list of collections into which catalogued objects are organized. Each collection can have contextual information that may be displayed to end-users. For some users this may be used to model significant historical collection structures; for others it may prove to be a useful organizational tool.”

Controlled vocabulary

“An unlimited number of hierarchical controlled vocabularies may be loaded into the system and used side-by-side for cataloguing. Management tools allow selected users to edit existing vocabularies or create new ones from scratch.


A tool is included to import Getty Art and Architecture Thesaurus (AAT) data files into CollectiveAccess. It should be possible to load other thesauri into CollectiveAccess without modification to the core system.”

Compliance to Archival Standards

Flexible, configurable data model; can set up to support particular standards by creating object and authority level attributes. These attributes can map to specific elements of various standards.

Data Validation

Yes: “Configurable id/accession numbering for lots, objects and authorities. CollectiveAccess may be configured to enforce standards and/or auto-generate unique identifiers for lots, objects and authority records. Identifiers may be composed of multiple parts, each with its own specification and requirements.” You can also set pattern matching for attributes and length and value boundary checks for text and number numbers respectively. Dates are always validated with invalid dates rejected. Uploaded media is also validated with unrecognized or invalid formats rejected.

Templating/ Default Fields

Yes: “Object "templates" give you the ability to use an existing object record as the basis of new records.”

Support for Digital Media

Yes: “CollectiveAccess understands and can process, convert and display digital media files in many formats, including:


    * Imagery: JPEG, JPEG-2000, GIF, PNG, TIFF, PSD (Photoshop), BMP, Tilepic

    * Multi-page documents: PDF, PS (Postscript), Microsoft Word

    * Video: QuickTime, RealMedia, WindowsMedia, FLV (Flash), MPEG-2, MPEG-4

    * Audio: MP3, AIFF, WAV

    * Multimedia: SWF (Flash), QuickTime VR


CollectiveAccess is capable of converting non-web-viewable formats such as TIFF into web-friendly formats (JPEG for example) at various sizes. The original format can be retained and made accessible for download. For small files, conversion and resizing may be done in near-real-time. For larger files, which can take a considerable amount of time to process, conversion tasks can be queued for later processing on a designated media-processing server. Whatever the uploaded file size, cataloguers are never forced to wait for long while media files are processed.


Support for individual media types are implemented using a modular plug-in architecture which makes it possible to add support for new media formats without requiring modifications to the core CollectiveAccess system.”


“Video files are automatically converted to Flash Video format for playback with CollectiveAccess's built-in video player. The originally uploaded video file is retained as well and can be played back if the user's browser supports the format. Similarly, uploaded audio files are converted to MP3 format for playback with CollectiveAccess's built-in audio player, with original files retained.”


“Internationalized user interface with translations into German and Dutch” planned for September 15, 2008

Flexibility of Data Model


Item-level Description

Yes, well-suited for item-level description.  Interface for describing objects include previews of media files.

Reorganize Hierarchies

Yes?: “Objects may be arranged into hierarchies using "is-a-part-of" relationships. The search engine supports traversal of these hierarchies. CollectiveAccess also supports hierarchical place authorities and vocabularies.”

Dynamically generate EAD finding aids

Not yet

Publish finding aids online

No—seems to be focused more on museum objects (and lots) rather than archival collections.  However, it looks like EAD can be mapped to existing fields and hierarchies. (A finding-aid interface can be developed rather easily and is the subject of a just-started project with Northeast Historic Films, a regional film archive in Maine [http://www.oldfilm.org]. They are using PBCore as their metadata scheme and to format their finding aids; CollectiveAccess is supporting them in developing a finding aid presentation interface for their web site)

Administrative Functions

User Permissions


Support for Harvesting/ Syndication

OAI-PMH support planned for September 15, 2008 release

Customization/ Configuration

“In addition to the standard set of CollectiveAccess fields representing concepts applicable to anything that can be catalogued — things like "accession number" — sets of custom fields (aka. "attributes") may be defined. These sets can (and usually should) map to established metadata standards such as Dublin Core, Darwin Core, VRA Core 3.0, CDWA Lite, et. al. Attributes may be type-specific: they can be defined such that they are only available for specific types of catalogued items (ex. photographs, video tapes, films). They may also be repeating, and it is possible to impose controls upon input formats.”


“Virtually all configuration and administration of an CollectiveAccess installation is performed using a convenient web-based user interface.”

Spell Check

Not yet. Will happen in v0.7 release.

Bug Reporting

Bugs can be reported at http://trac.opencollection.org

Interoperability with Digital Repository Systems

Planned integration with Fedora in 2009.

User Interface

Web Publishing

Yes: “A full-featured search-only (no cataloguing or editing tools) web-based user interface, intended for public use.  This interface provides access to the same search engine used in the cataloguing interface, but honors display restrictions set by cataloguers and includes additional presentation options for results, including map, slideshow and timeline-based display modes“ A demo is available here: http://demo.opencollection.org/ocaccess





Yes: “Flexible search engine. The built-in search engine supports full text searching over all fields in database, field-limited searches, wildcards, stemming, Boolean combinations, exclusion (Boolean "NOT" operator), phrase searches, synonomy and more. Both simple Google-like and advanced search interfaces are offered.”


“Search results may be viewed in several formats: as a list, as a series of thumbnails, as a mosaic (many small icon-like square thumbnails on a single page) and, if found objects are associated with georeferenced place name authority items, as a map.”

Advanced Search

Yes (see above)


Yes: “The public access module is designed to be easily personalized by those with basic web development skills, and to provide a useful platform for more experienced developers seeking to create a highly customized user experience.” You can also create your own customized front-end, like this one: http://artists.parrishart.org

Built-in Help

 Partial.  A user manual is being written. 

Link to Images & Other Files


Easy Data Entry


  • quick add feature for adding new authority records while cataloging


Other Features

  •  “Automatic extraction of metadata from uploaded media files. Metadata embedded in uploaded media files in EXIF, IPTC, IRB and XMP formats is extracted and stored in the database where it can be accessed for search or display.”
  • Built-in web-based high resolution "pan-and-zoom" image viewer. Images may be viewed at any resolution with continuous pan and zoom usingCollectiveAccess's built-in Tilepic viewer.”
  • Mapping. Any number of point or path georeferences may be associated with entries in the place authority. The CollectiveAccess search interface can use this authority information to plot the locations of found objects using Google Maps. Georeferences may be entered by hand or through the upload of KML/KMZ format files exported from Google Earth or compatible software..”
  • Time-based cataloging. Tools for time-based cataloguing — cataloguing of arbitrary segments of time-based media such as video and audio — allow a cataloguer to create and catalogue "clips" from an object using the same descriptive methods that are employed for any other type of object.”
  • Labels may be printed for objects on pre-made label forms. Supported forms and labels are customizable and may include barcodes and images.”
  • “CollectiveAccess can generate a preview of what cataloguing applied to an object will look like on a printable sheet or in a public interface. The preview can also serve as a useful summary of object information and a convenient means to launch searches for similar objects.”
  • “Support for user comments & user tagging” planned for 9/15/2008 release

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