ICA-AtoM and Australian series system

78 views
Skip to first unread message

Evelyn McLellan

unread,
Oct 23, 2008, 12:18:02 PM10/23/08
to ICA-AtoM Users
Dear ICA-AtoM users,

I've been having some correspondence with Maggie Shapley, University
Archivist at the Australian National University, one of our beta-
testers (see http://www.ica-atom.org/anu). I thought it would be
helpful to copy it here because it raises some issues with using ICA-
AtoM in Australia, which uses a series-based system rather than a
fonds-based one. The correspondence is below, and I will respond to
Maggie's points in a follow-up message.

Hi Maggie,

It's great to see all the descriptions that have been input into your
ICA-AtoM site! However, I note that the series system presents a bit
of problem for display. In the archival description list screen you
have the same repository listed over and over again on the right
hand side and on the left you have some fairly de-contextualized
description
titles - "Correspondence files", "Confidential papers" and so forth.

We think that the best way to improve this would be to allow the
administrator to select a single-repository setting for the
application, which would mean that the archival institution wouldn't
appear because it's always the same institution; the creator would be
listed there instead. That would give the contents of your list
context and meaning
they currently lack.

I'd be interested to get your opinion on this. Thanks.

Evelyn

Dear Evelyn

This is just one thing on my list for feedback!

The solution you propose is OK at the moment but I've barely started
on the Noel Butlin Archives Centre collection (which is 95% of our
holdings) so I will need to distinguish between ANU Archives (ANUA)
and NBAC. Even with these the one I've started is the Federated
Furnishing Trade Society and the two fonds (deposits) I've entered are
both 'Records of the South Australian branch' so they are also
decontextualised by not having the creator display. I think the
solution will be to display creator + deposit (or series where this
level is absent) + repository.

The main way the software isn't coping with the series system is in
the display of creation dates and creators. Series ANUA 2, 14, and 25
are examples where I've entered successive creators and the dates they
created the series (not always the same as the creator's dates of
existence) but the dates just stack up in reverse order separate from
the creators.

The relationships area which isn't there yet is also crucial to the
series system: the elements needed are temporal (previous/subsequent)
and hierarchical (controlling/controlled), plus 'other' because
there's sometimes something odd not fitting into these. There also
needs to be a current controlling agency attribution, ie which
currently existing body has functional responsibility for these
records to give permissions etc.

Another thing which is crucial to us under privacy legislation is
whether the records are owned (either created by the Commonwealth or
donated to it) or deposited (still owned by the creator or its
successors) as there is one regime under the Privacy Act for
Commonwealth records and another for non-Commonwealth records. I
haven't entered this information yet as all ANUA series are owned, but
I thought I'd just use 'Immediate source of acquisition' and rename
it.

I'll get back to you with other comments as I encounter new scenarios
- the main problem is that entering our data exposes our inconsistent
practice over the years - not just that one part of the collection is
series system and the bulk is record group - but all sorts of oddities
that were introduced as a solution to a particular problem without
foreseeing their implications. One field I really, really need at the
item level (your 'file' level) is 'Alternative number' with multiple
occurrences because we often record a file number allocated by the
creator which has been superseded by an imposed single number. This
would also assist us at the folio level (your 'item' level) with maps
and photos which have been allocated map numbers, photograph numbers
and negative numbers in addition to their deposit and item numbers. An
alternative number field at the deposit (fonds) or series level means
you can enter a previous number (eg when records move from one
repository to another or for some reason you convert them to another
number) and you can confirm that these are the same records. Let me
know if you think there's already a field for this! At the moment we
record previous accession numbers in text in archival history.

Evelyn McLellan

unread,
Oct 23, 2008, 12:39:56 PM10/23/08
to ICA-AtoM Users
OK, I'll tackle these issues as best I can. The first thing I should
note is that ICA-AtoM's data model supports multiple creators and
creation dates for a single description, but we need to work out the
display issues. The list screen probably isn't the place to do it,
because once there are a lot of descriptions in ICA-AtoM the list
screen isn't the best way to access descriptions - you would use the
search functionality instead. So we should probably be looking at the
search results screen for displaying multiple fields like title,
creator(s) and date(s), institution, etc. I will flag this as an issue
for our development team.

As for recording who owns the records and which Act applies to access,
can you use the "Conditions of access and use area"? According to
ISAD(G) the "Conditions governing access" element in this area is used
to "Specify the law or legal status, contract, regulation or policy
that affects access to the unit of description. Indicate the extent of
the period of closure and the date at which the material will open
when appropriate." (ISAD(G) 3.4.1) If you feel you need further
elements for this type of information, you could add a note or notes
in the "Notes area." In a similar vein, you could use the "Notes area"
to record alternative number(s) for your items and folios.

It may be that we need to add a template to ICA-AtoM which would be
based specifically on Australian descriptive practices. We are doing a
similar thing with the Canadian descriptive standard (RAD, the Rules
for Archival Description). This will allow Canadian users to choose
either ISDA(G), the default, or RAD. Maggie, perhaps you could post a
link to the descriptive standard you're using and we can determine
whether a separate template would be useful.

Evelyn

On Oct 23, 9:18 am, Evelyn McLellan <epmclel...@gmail.com> wrote:
> Dear ICA-AtoM users,
>
> I've been having some correspondence with Maggie Shapley, University
> Archivist at the Australian National University, one of our beta-
> testers (seehttp://www.ica-atom.org/anu). I thought it would be

Peter Van Garderen

unread,
Oct 23, 2008, 1:17:34 PM10/23/08
to ica-ato...@googlegroups.com
Dear Maggie & Evelyn,

Very interesting discussion. I am in mid-travel right now but just wanted to
add a couple of quick comments.

Firstly, the ICA-AtoM data model is designed in such a way to support all of
the Series system scenarios which Maggie has highlighted. In fact, the
decision to create an Event object (in the underlying ICA-AtoM data model)
seperate from the Archival Description and Authority File objects is based
very much on the 'Business' entity in the Australian SPIRT Recordkeeping
Metadata project.

The next step is, as Evelyn has suggested, to create an 'Australian' or
better yet a 'Series system' specific template that addresses the specific
display issues. Given our cramped development timeline that may still be a
couple of months away but we'll certainly use this discussion and any future
feedback as design requirements when we begin that task.



> The main way the software isn't coping with the series system is in
> the display of creation dates and creators. Series ANUA 2, 14, and 25
> are examples where I've entered successive creators and the dates they
> created the series (not always the same as the creator's dates of
> existence) but the dates just stack up in reverse order separate from
> the creators.

Given that we allow for multi-creator scenarios in general, perhaps we
should change our default display to put creators next to their
corresponding creation dates in the display templates. Evelyn, can you pls
file a (1.0.5) issue for this and discuss it further with Richard.



> The relationships area which isn't there yet is also crucial to the
> series system: the elements needed are temporal (previous/subsequent)
> and hierarchical (controlling/controlled), plus 'other' because
> there's sometimes something odd not fitting into these.

Yes, ISAAR Relationships is a priority for the 1.0.5 release (likely due by
Christmas time).

> Another thing which is crucial to us under privacy legislation is
> whether the records are owned (either created by the Commonwealth or
> donated to it) or deposited (still owned by the creator or its
> successors) as there is one regime under the Privacy Act for
> Commonwealth records and another for non-Commonwealth records. I
> haven't entered this information yet as all ANUA series are owned, but
> I thought I'd just use 'Immediate source of acquisition' and rename
> it.

Try to determine if this field legitimately maps to the ISAD field.
Presumbly there is an Australian Standard to ISAD(G) crosswalk we can
reference. If there isn't a clean mapping then let's not substitute fields.
We have a mechanism to add new fields (QubitProperties) which we would
implement when we create an Australian Series template.



> I'll get back to you with other comments as I encounter new scenarios
> - the main problem is that entering our data exposes our inconsistent
> practice over the years - not just that one part of the collection is
> series system and the bulk is record group - but all sorts of oddities
> that were introduced as a solution to a particular problem without
> foreseeing their implications. One field I really, really need at the
> item level (your 'file' level) is 'Alternative number' with multiple
> occurrences because we often record a file number allocated by the
> creator which has been superseded by an imposed single number. This
> would also assist us at the folio level (your 'item' level) with maps
> and photos which have been allocated map numbers, photograph numbers
> and negative numbers in addition to their deposit and item numbers. An
> alternative number field at the deposit (fonds) or series level means
> you can enter a previous number (eg when records move from one
> repository to another or for some reason you convert them to another
> number) and you can confirm that these are the same records.

I think this is a universal problem/requirement for archival systems around
the world. Evelyn, can you please add this requirement (multi-value,
alternate number field) to the 1.0.5 new features list. We'll handle this
either with a QubitProperty or QubitNote.

Cheers,

--peter

-----------------------------
Peter Van Garderen,
Software Release Manager,
ICA-AtoM Project
http://ica-atom.org
-----------------------------

Evelyn McLellan

unread,
Oct 23, 2008, 3:56:03 PM10/23/08
to ICA-AtoM Users
As per Peter's request, I've added the two issues to the Qubit-Toolkit
issues list (Qubit is the underlying software for the ICA-AtoM
application). See http://code.google.com/p/qubit-toolkit/issues/detail?id=489
and http://code.google.com/p/qubit-toolkit/issues/detail?id=490

Evelyn

On Oct 23, 10:17 am, "Peter Van Garderen" <pe...@artefactual.com>
wrote:

Maggie Shapley

unread,
Oct 27, 2008, 2:42:22 AM10/27/08
to ICA-AtoM Users
Thanks Peter and Evelyn for your responses.

I've been checking the series system crosswalk to ISAD(G) and
ISAAR(CPF) in Appendix 5 of 'Describing Records in Context: A guide to
Australian practice' published by the Australia Society of Archivists.
I think I can just use 'Conditions governing access' for the Privacy
Act distinction between Commonwealth and non-Commonwealth records as
you suggest Evelyn.

And the 'current controlling agency' will map to ISAAR(CPF) 'Names/
identifiers of related corporate bodies' with the 'Category or
Description of Relationship' being 'Current controlling corporate
body' say. So I look forward to that release.

Thanks for picking up on the alternative numbers and the display of
the creators with their dates.

Maggie

On Oct 24, 6:56 am, Evelyn McLellan <epmclel...@gmail.com> wrote:
> As per Peter's request, I've added the two issues to the Qubit-Toolkit
> issues list (Qubit is the underlying software for the ICA-AtoM
> application). Seehttp://code.google.com/p/qubit-toolkit/issues/detail?id=489
> andhttp://code.google.com/p/qubit-toolkit/issues/detail?id=490
> > ------------------------------ Hide quoted text -
>
> - Show quoted text -
Reply all
Reply to author
Forward
0 new messages