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Iain Hunter

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Sep 26, 2023, 2:10:14 PM9/26/23
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Day 1 of using the Demo!  
Having created or saved some basic info for Archival Institution and Archival Description, I cannot see the information available when I log back in. It would appear to have disappeared.
Thoughts?

Thanks.

Dan Gillean

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Sep 26, 2023, 2:31:43 PM9/26/23
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Hi Iain, 

Welcome to the AtoM community! By "using the Demo" do you mean our public demo site, available here?
If yes... then you should read the content on the homepage! I will copy the relevant passage below: 

You are free to add and change any of the sample data. However, please note that the website will automatically reload the default data every hour, on the hour. So any data that you enter yourself will not be permanently saved. Additionally, there may be more than one demo user logged-in at the same time, so you may see data changes made by others while you are using the software.

The public demo site is intended for general public use to try out some of the entities, but any submitted data is regularly wiped. 

If you are looking for a test environment in which you can preserve your data between sessions, you might want to consider one of our development environments, such as the Vagrant box or the Docker Compose environment: 
Note that Microsoft paywalls access to its virtual hypervisor, so unless you have Windows Professional, the Docker environment may not work, and Windows users are better off using the Vagrant box. We have more detailed set up instructions (because there are still some extra steps for Windows users, since you also don't get a native SSH client) in this slide deck: 
Keep in mind that a few of the commands for updating the environment, like how to restart PHP-FPM, will be outdated, as these change by version. You can always consult the official documentation for any commands that don't work as described in the slides. For example, restarting PHP-FPM when using Ubuntu 20.04 and PHP 7.4, as the current Vagrant box uses: 
Finally, if you intend to do a lot of testing and would like a way to save a base set of test data, and quickly flush your Vagrant environment and reload the clean test data, I have shared my own personal testing environment script with instructions on how to set it up in this slide deck: 

Dan Gillean, MAS, MLIS
AtoM Program Manager
Artefactual Systems, Inc.
604-527-2056
@accesstomemory
he / him


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Iain Hunter

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Sep 26, 2023, 4:51:48 PM9/26/23
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Thanks Dan - useful!

I have a question on accessions - does the system automatically generate a sequence number of the record or does the user have to enter a sequence number?

Thanks.

Iain

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Dan Gillean

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Sep 27, 2023, 8:32:08 AM9/27/23
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Hi Iain, 

AtoM has a setting called an Accession mask - by default this is set up to generate an accession number following a year-month-date/incrementing number pattern (.e.g. YYYY-MM-DD/#). However, the generated accession number can be edited, as can the accessions mask itself in the settings. See: 
You can also turn off the accession mask entirely if you want:
Cheers, 

Dan Gillean, MAS, MLIS
AtoM Program Manager
Artefactual Systems, Inc.
604-527-2056
@accesstomemory
he / him

Iain Hunter

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Oct 3, 2023, 2:25:58 PM10/3/23
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Hi Dan

Hope you don’t mind me emailing you direct. I have some questions on data fields in the Accession Record-

1. I can see a ‘date from’ field. Is there an equivalent ‘date to’ field?
2. Is there a ‘Type of Accession’ field? Contents might be ‘book’ or ‘picture’ or 
‘Map’ etc
3. Can we store ‘Language’? E.g. ‘English’, ‘Latin’, ‘Old Scots’ etc.
4. How about ‘Access Status’ e.g. ‘closed’, ‘restricted’, ‘members only’ etc?
5. How about a general ‘notes’ field?
6. Finally we would like to store the dimensions of boxes used to store items in order to give an idea of size of accession.

I would welcome your thoughts on the above.

Thanks again.

Iain

Dan Gillean

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Oct 3, 2023, 4:03:00 PM10/3/23
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Hi Iain, 

Hope you don’t mind me emailing you direct. I have some questions on data fields in the Accession Record-

You didn't - you emailed the forum - which is great! Because we can't freely offer individualized support, and when we have these conversations in the user forum, 1) other users can share their own tips, tricks, and workarounds that I might not have thought of, and 2) future users with similar questions can find this thread as a resource. 

1. I can see a ‘date from’ field. Is there an equivalent ‘date to’ field?

Sorry I am not sure what you mean. The accession record template has an Acquisition date, but it also has Dates of creation, which include 3 fields, much as you find on descriptions: a free-text date fields that allows for typographical marks to express approximation or uncertainty, per your chosen standard or local conventions; and two controlled fields (start and end date fields) that expect ISO 8601 dates in YYYY, YYYY-MM, or YYYY-MM-DD format. 
 

2. Is there a ‘Type of Accession’ field? Contents might be ‘book’ or ‘picture’ or
‘Map’ etc

There is not currently. If you create an archival description from the accession record (or link an existing description, etc), several of the description templates have fields for this. The current accession record template has very little for describing the materials themselves - it is mostly for getting administrative control over the receipt of the materials. 

That said, there are two fields in the Administrative area that could be pretty easily repurposed if you'd like: the Acquisition type and Resource type fields are both controlled value fields, linked to user-editable taxonomies (Accession acquisition type and Accession resource type). Meaning you can delete the existing terms and add your own if you'd prefer.


3. Can we store ‘Language’? E.g. ‘English’, ‘Latin’, ‘Old Scots’ etc.

Hmm, I thought we had, but apparently not? In any case, there are fields for this on the archival descriptions, so either you can put that information in one of the available accession record free-text fields, or add it to a linked description record (or both) for now. 
 
4. How about ‘Access Status’ e.g. ‘closed’, ‘restricted’, ‘members only’ etc?

Not presently. I'd suggest either adding this as free-text information in the processing notes, or repurposing the Processing status controlled field, whose terms can also be modified via Manage > Taxonomies. 
 

5. How about a general ‘notes’ field?

That would be the Processing notes field. 


6. Finally we would like to store the dimensions of boxes used to store items in order to give an idea of size of accession.

You can either add this information to one of the existing fields (such as the free-text Processing notes), or you can also link physical storage containers to an accession. And storage container types are a user-editable taxonomy of terms, so if your boxes are standard sizes, you can add different box types and link them that way. 

In general, I'd also like to offer a bit of historical context. 

First, while Artefactual is in the process of trying to transform our business model so we can have more agency and control over our software development and maintenance process, for many years feature development in AtoM only happened when it was sponsored by an institution willing to pay for changes. The accessions module was added in such a way in the early days of ICA-AtoM, meaning it was tailored fairly specifically to one institution's needs, and done at a time when there were no national or international standards for accession records to follow. Since then, very little development on the module has happened, save for a few enhancements in recent years 

All this to say that we're aware that the Accessions module has a lot of room for improvement, and it's something we hope to address in the future. In recent years, we have seeen the emergence of the Canadian Archival Accession Information Standard (CAAIS), which is the first national standard we've found for accessions. We like it a lot for how it follows the general structure of the ICA content standards, and seems flexible enough to work for many different archives - it's certainly an improvement over our current template, and therefore something we hope to fully implement in AtoM in the future. In fact, some of the more recent development was sponsored by Canadian institutions to slowly move us in the right direction, such as adding the accession events. 

Right now, as part of Artefactual's evolution, we are focused on getting control on the maintenance backlog of our existing legacy applications. To this end, we now have a new team of Maintainers, and they have recently released their plans for the next couple AtoM releases, which are focused on upgrading many of the underlying legacy dependencies that AtoM uses. After that, they will be assessing their next steps - so we'll see! 

All this to say that there's more that we'd love to do to improve the accessions module, but it will be a while before we can focus on that. We always welcome community pull requests, and maintain a number of development resources on our wiki! In the meantime, the AtoM documentation should help you determine what you can and can't find in the Accessions module: 
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