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Home Page


Developed by

Project Partners:

  • The International Council on Archives (ICA)
  • Artefactual Systems Inc.


Project Funders:

  • United Arab Emirates Center for Documentation and Research
  • Dutch Archiefschool Research Institute
  • French Archives Directorate
  • UNESCO Information For All Programme
  • Library and Archives Canada
  • Canadian Council of Archives
  • World Bank Library and Archives of Development

Developer’s Description

“ICA-AtoM is web-based archival description software that is based on International Council on Archives (ICA) standards. 'AtoM' is an acronymn for 'Access to Memory'. ICA-AtoM is multi-lingual and supports multi-repository collections.”


GPL v2 license

Purchasing Cost


Maintenance Cost


User Support

  • User mailing list
  • Wiki
  • Forums
  • Manual
  • Help function


Free tutorial available online. Training workshops also provided by Artefactual Systems.

System Requirements

  • Web server (Apache recommended)
  • Database (MySQL recommended)
  • Web-browser for archivist/ end-user (Firefox recommended)

Technical Architecture

“ICA-AtoM comprises:


    * HTML pages served to a web browser from a web server.

    * A database on a database server.

    * PHP5 software code that manage requests and responses between the web clients, the application logic and the application content stored in the database.

    * The Symfony web framework that organizes the component parts using object-orientation and best practice web design patterns.

    * The Qubit open information management toolkit, developed by the ICA-AtoM project and customized to make the ICA-AtoM application [fully web-based]”

Backup/ restore utility

Backup process documented on wiki


ICA-AToM 1.0 was released for beta testing in July, 2008; 1.0.7 beta was released in June 2009, Release 1.0.8 beta is due in October 2009, and Release 1.1 is due in March 2010.

Hosting Available?

Yes: “The core developers (Artefactual Systems) offer hosting and other service providers will be encouraged to provide hosting services.”


Demo/ Sandbox Available?


The DemoCD is now available for download at http://ica-atom.org/democd.  An online demo copy is available  at http://ica-atom.org/demo/ . This will give anyone a login password and allow you to play with the software. In addition, the software will be available for download with a web application installer. In addition, the software code is available for checkout at http://ica-atom.org/code.html


ICA-AToM is pursuing a multi-faceted approach to sustainability. The ICA-AtoM software will always be publicly available as free and open source software. In order to raise funds to achieve the project's objectives and values the ICA-AtoM Project will establish a business model that may include the following components:


   1. institutional sponsorship and 'bounties' to pay for development of specific features

   2. free contributions of time and code from organizations with a vested interest in ICA-AtoM

   3. applying for grants and subsidies

   4. creating a purely voluntary institutional membership model, based on fees or contributions in kind, to pool the resources of those institutions that are using ICA-AtoM

   5. charging fees for delivering ICA-AtoM related training workshops

   6. charging a commission for brokering ICA-AtoM technical services between recommended third-party contractors and institutions seeking assistance with ICA-AtoM installation, hosting, customization, new feature development, etc.


As of June 2009, only options 1 and 2 have been implemented. 


Unique Features

  • supports single or multi-repository implementations
  • fully implements ICA descriptive standards
  • fully translate user interface and database content (incl. mixing and sorting partly translated ui or content)
  • OAI data repository and harvesting

Support for Importing/ Exporting Metadata

Exports MARC

No (planned)

Exports EAD


Exports Dublin Core


Exports MODS


Exports METS

No (planned)

Exports MADS


Batch Exports EAD

No (planned)

Batch Exports MARC

No (planned)

Batch Export Tab Delimited Files

No (planned)

Imports EAD


Imports MARC

No (planned)

Imports Tab Delimited Files/ CSV

No (planned)

Imports Digital Image Files

Yes (and video, text, audio) - derivatives (e.g. thumbnail, reference copies) automatically generated

Import Accession Data

No (planned)

Batch Import EAD

No (planned)

Batch Import MARC

No (planned)

Batch Import XML

No (planned)

Batch Import CSV

No (planned)

Collection Management Features


No (planned)


No (planned)

Create Deeds of Gift

No (planned)

Prioritize Processing Order


Track Donors

No (planned)

Project Management


Record Condition

No (planned)

Manage Locations


Manage Restricted Materials

No (planned)

Manage Rights

No (planned)

Manage Loans & Exhibits




Reference support

No (planned)

Generate Reports

No (planned)

Track Repository Statistics

No (planned)

Resource Description

Authority Control


Controlled vocabulary

Yes: “Controlled vocabularies (functions, subjects, places) used throughout the system (e.g. as access points or in drop-down value lists). Organized into separate taxonomies.”  ISO Thesauri compliance in release 1.0.8


Compliance to Archival Standards

Yes: “ICA-AtoM is built around the International Council on Archives' (ICA) descriptive standards:


    * General International Standard Archival Description (ISAD-G) - 2nd edition, 1999.


    * International Standard Archival Authority Record (Corporate bodies, Persons, Families) (ISAAR(CPF)) - 2nd edition, 2003.


    * International Standard For Describing Institutions with Archival Holdings (ISDIAH) - 1st edition, March 2008.


    * International Standard For Describing Functions (ISDF) - 1st edition, May 2007.”


It also has templates for Dublin Core and MODS and future iterations of ICA-AtoM will support Digital Object structural metadata based on METS.

Data Validation

available in release 1.1 (March 2010)

Templating/ Default Fields

Not via a user interface but easy to customize by a novice developer

Support for Digital Media

Yes: Upload and display/playback of digital media


Yes: “All screen elements (buttons, links, fields labels) and database contents can be translated into multiple languages. The current version of ICA-AtoM 1.0.7 beta supports the following languages: English, French, Dutch, Portuguese, Spanish, German, Slovenian, Italian, and Farsi.

Flexibility of Data Model

Yes: generic underlying data model with crosswalks to other standards

Item-level Description


Support for hierarchical description

Yes: Multi-level description

Dynamically generate EAD finding aids


Publish finding aids online


Administrative Functions

User Permissions

Yes: Roles include “Researcher, Contributor, Editor, Translator and Administrator”. Full Access Control List (ACL) capabilities to be added to release 1.1 (March 2010)


Support for Harvesting/ Syndication

Yes: via OAI


Customization/ Configuration

Yes: theming; static pages; custom menus; default labels & templates; application configuration settings;

Spell Check

no, (Firefox spellcheck plugin recommended)

Bug Reporting

online bug/issue tracking database available to public

Interoperability with Digital Repository Systems/ Multi-institution Support

“ICA-AtoM can be used by a single institution for its own descriptions or it can be set up as a multi-repository "union list" accepting descriptions from any number of contributing institutions.”


It is also being tested as a Data Management and Access component for an integrated OAIS digital archives system.

User Interface

Web Publishing

Fully web-based: “All user interactions with the system (create, view, search, update, and delete information) take place through the user's web browser. Users access HTML pages on the web server; clicking a button or link triggers a PHP script that sends a command to the database (create, read, update, delete) and returns the output as HTML back to the user's browser.”




Yes: Zend Search Lucene search engine

Advanced Search



Yes: theming/skinning

Built-in Help

link to online wiki manual. (tooltip/context-sensitive help planned for future release)

Link to Images & Other Files


Easy Data Entry


Other Features



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