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CollectiveAccess User Feedback

Page history last edited by Lisa Spiro 15 years, 6 months ago

CollectiveAccess User Feedback


In order to understand how archivists and museum specialists use CollectiveAccess (formerly known as OpenCollection, or OC) I conducted a phone interviews with two users between May and June of 2008. To encourage complete honesty, I promised anonymity to the interviewees.  I tried to capture the interviewees’ remarks as accurately as possible, but I paraphrased and/or condensed some comments.


If you are a current user of CollectiveAccess, feel free to add your own comments.


Reasons for Selecting CollectiveAccess (OC)

  • “We are using it for a couple of things.  The features that were most appealing were the complexity of relationships that you could catalog between individuals. The project we’ve used it to execute is mainly a database that combines collection objects, artists and story, and locations.  It has a built in georeference capability that is easy to use.  We had planned to use more traditional collection management software for our project, but when that didn’t work we turned to OC.”

  • “A lot of the other software that was looked at was too expensive.  Open Collection is free, a big factor in why they chose it.”


Ease of Use

  • “It’s so much easier than traditional collection management systems that I’ve worked with.”

  • “It would be easy for someone who isn’t a trained archivist to use. As long as there is a protocol written for someone who is entering the data, it’s pretty straightforward.  The only thing that might take more explaining is the taxonomy that you create.  The data is pretty easy.”


Ease of Customization

  • “If you have someone who can write code, you can do all sorts of things.  Even I can change the names of fields, check boxes, etc.  You can make it do what you need to do.”

  • “It’s very flexible and customizable.  Any time you need to add a new classification, it makes it really easy; it has an easy interface.”



  • “There isn’t a lot of documentation—no help manuals.”

  • “The only weakness is that you don’t get a help desk. You can email Open Collection and they get back to you.”

  • “Sometimes there are certain things on the interface I find a little but clunky, but I’ve given a lot of feedback, and changes are made quickly.  Whenever I find something that is awkward, I’ll email support.  Since it is so customizable, they can change it.  I haven’t really used other archival software, but I know that it has been very easy.”


User Community/ Support

  • “I’ve found that the support has been very helpful.  It’s been really easy to access people.” 



  • “I’m not someone with a lot of experience with these systems, but I like the ability to link objects to people to places to events to exhibitions.  You can use it to tell stories and show relationships between things.  The end product lets people navigate through those relationships.”
  • “It’s visually very strong—there are a lot of visualization options.”
  • “It’s online and customizable—you don’t need to download anything.  Any changes that I make can be see instantly by anyone else working on the project.”
  • “There are cool tools within the software.  For digital photos, you can magnify photos at a high resolution so you can catalog it at a level that is really detailed.  There are details in old photos that you can’t see through a magnifying glass, but the zoom tool on the photo interface is really powerful.  The same goes for oral histories… All of the audio files are digital, so you can catalog separate little pieces of a whole oral history and jump to that part.  The level of cataloging lets you get to minute detail.  It’s really easy to use.”
  • “Authority control is pretty good.  You can connect to any sort of authority.  We’re connected to the Getty Art and Architecture Thesaurus and it’s pretty good.  If you can’t find something or if it doesn’t fit, you can create your own authority.   In that way, it’s nice because it’s customizable.  It’s flexible.”

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