Simple and advance search guide

Skip to first unread message

Dec 15, 2019, 8:13:06 PM12/15/19
to AtoM Users
We have a small database and I don't have a lot of IT experience. I am mainly a library cataloger who has used OCLC for many years. My job now is to create an online catalog for archival material in a non-profit organization that I belong to. Our database is available only to members of our organization. AtoM is working beautifully for us. I work alone with one part-time assistant. Our users need a basic guide to simple and advanced searching. We made a great little 15 min. video to show them how to do simple searches but I still get basic questions. Many people don't know that they have to start a new search by going to the icon on the upper far left. Some people see the book cover of a book and don't realize they have to scroll down to read the book online. Are users are smart people but, I guess, they don't use database very much. Of course, most of them know how to use Google but probably not very well. I was wondering if any archivists for a small collection have already written a  basic guide to searching that we could use as a basis for our guide. I have some simple instructions on the website for users under Quick links in a section called How to Search the Database. I put links to the AtoM documentation but I don't think our users will read that. We need something simple and direct. Here is what I have on our website now:

To browse and search the database, click on one of these categories:

• Archival descriptions: This shows a list of ALL records in the database sorted by: most recent, alphabetic, or reference code. The default is alphabetical.

• Authority records – An alphabetical list of terms used in the database to describe records. Names of people are listed by last name. Any of these terms can be put in the search box, next to Browse.

• Archival institutions – These are the repositories where the records reside and the areas where current archives are collected:

• Subjects – an alphabetical list of all subjects used in describing records. Enter any of selected terms in the Search box next to Browse.

• Places – a list of all geographic locations mentioned in records.

• Digital objects – all digital objects used in the records.

"Popular this week," shows you what others have been viewing.

Tips for basic searching and advanced search strategies:

A detailed description of how to do a simple search is explained in the Access to Memory (software application used by the Subud Archives) in their documentation:

A detailed description of how to do an advanced search is explained in the Access to Memory documentation:

The following is a basic description of how to use the Search capabilities of this software application:

A term can be placed in the Search box in the tool bar next to Browse. There is a choice of Global search (keyword) or Advanced search (Boolean operators).

For a Global search, the simple way is to type a search term that describes what you are looking for and click on the magnifying glass, this will give you all records that have that search term in them. When you start typing a term, there is a “typeahead” feature which will start immediately anticipating what you want. If you don't click on the magnifying glass, records will appear that are grouped in categories under ICONS.The first icon shows you the top matches in archival descriptions. The second icon shows the archival repository where you can find the information you are searching, and the third icon show authority record that matches your search term. These icons are used throughout the Subud Archives website interface, so it is important to be familiar with them. The typeahead feature is set by default to begin providing suggestions only after three characters have been entered – for example, entering “a” or “an” in the search box will not prompt suggestions, but entering “ant” might produce suggestions such as a record for a person named “Anthony,” etc.

For an advanced search, click on Advanced search in the search box. A screen will appear to help you narrow down your search results. There are filters on the left side of this screen. The first one is for repository with a pull-down menu. There is a choice for level of description: top-level descriptions is a default but a menu appears that allows you to select a series or subseries such as FILM for films, KEJ for kejiwaan records, ORG for organizational records, ENT for enterprise records, PHOTO for photographs, etc. Next is a box for General material designations with a set number of choices. Next is Media type, Digital object available, Level of description, and Copyright status.

Level of Descriptions refers to a record that either describes the entire collection, a group of records (Fonds), a Series which is a group of like material, or a Subseries, which is a section of a group of like material. There is a further break down of Part, File, or Item. Part might refer to a box of like materials, File would refer to a file folder of like material, and Item would be a description of a unique record in a file folder or could describe a photograph, a digital document, or an issue of a newsletter.

The Search Form in the middle of the screen allows you to search something in any file (pull down menu includes Title, Archival history, Scope and content, Extent and medium, Subject access points, Name access points, Place access points, Identifier, and Reference code) or to do Boolean Searches using And, Or, or Not. Here is a link to a good definition of Boolean Searching If you have any problems finding what you are looking for, contact an archivist by email for help.

When a record is opened, you will see its identification number and can read a description. Blue hyperlinks can be clicked; they are found throughout the database. These blue links include authors' names, such as; [examples given of a few prominent people in our organization.]  Any click on a name will open other works by these authors (called Creator in this database). In the lower half of the record are the Access points, including subject, place, and name. Clicking on them will link to records that match the access terms, such as an events or a geographic location. For example, the blue hyperlink for the "3rd Subud World Congress, 1967, Tokyo" will link to other records about that congress, including documents, photographs taken at the event, publications about the congress, and decisions made.

Dan Gillean

Dec 16, 2019, 11:28:48 AM12/16/19
to ICA-AtoM Users
Hi there, 

Your sample text looks pretty good to me! A few other resources and suggestions that might help: 

First: AtoM documentation is versioned for each major release (so we have docs for 2.1, 2.2, 2.3, 2.4, 2.5, etc). If you want to add a link to our docs, but don't want to have to remember to update it every time you upgrade your site, there is a way to provide a link to the latest documentation by default - which is how I usually share links in this forum, so they remain relevant in the future. 

Essentially, you can do 3 things to generalize the links to our documentation  a bit more: 
  1. Remove the language code from the URL (i.e. en/ ). This will allow the users browser language settings to determine the language of the website shown. While we don't yet have translated documentation, our volunteer translators do provide translations for the website itself - and we will be setting up our documentation for community translation in the future. 
  2. Replace the version of the documentation  in the URL (i.e. 2.5 ) with "latest" - this will default to showing the current active major branch of our documentation - i.e. 2.5 now, but then 2.6 once that is released, etc. This keeps the link tied to the current major release of the application. 
  3. If you are linking to a page, and not a specific section of a page, you can remove the hashtag at the end of the URL. These are used to link to sections, and if you are linking to the top part of a page, you can keep the URL slightly shorter by removing this. We do this for linking in the documentation so the links will keep working if we move a section in the future, but when sharing a link to a whole page, you can optionally remove this. 
Some example URLs to demonstrate: 
One more general thought for how to provide easy access to your users:  

AtoM search parameters are all passed via URL, meaning you can create links to specific search results for your end users. This can be useful if you want to curate user entry into your holdings, so they don't have to start just by searching or browsing. Because all menus and static pages are configurable, you could therefore use this to add some canned searches directly to your homepage, or directly to the browse menu if desired. For example, if you wanted to provide a link to a search results page limited to all top-level with a certain subject access point and a linked digital object, etc. You can use either Markdown (see our formatting docs here), or simple HTML to style your links  - so an image could be a link, for example - more static page styling guidance is available in our docs here. Some users have used AtoM's default styles to add buttons as links on the homepage, as you'll see in some of the examples below. 


Our wiki has a section that includes examples of user-created help pages, here: 
This list is far from comprehensive, however. A few more examples not currently listed: 

The Winnipeg Archives has used images on its homepage to provide some nice looking canned search links, as well as a link to a search help page. They also use static pages as a way of providing a sort of Virtual Exhibits module - similar to the Beaton Institute example on the wiki page linked above (and shown in these slides), they provide a landing page with an image and more general information for each exhibit, as well as some canned search links pre-limited to the featured exhibit/collection

The BC Archives has customized their homepage include both a tutorial video, and some styled button links for some general FAQs, including a link to a PDF of search tips. The Button FAQ approach is similar to what the Mills Archives has done (more links in the wiki page link above), while the video tutorial is simliar to the approach taken by the CNSA's MemoryNS portal here (also described more fully in the wiki page above). 

Mills has also recently added 2 in-page search boxes directly to its homepage - one for descriptions and one limited to images. We provide some tips on how you too can do this in the following slide deck: 
The City of Victoria Archives also provides a PDF of search tips, linked in its Quick Links menu, as well as some canned searches and explanations on the homepage, and a Glossary of archival terminology used in the catalogue on a different static page in the Quick Links menu. A Glossary is also provided by the Borthwick Institute, as well as an FAQ (further links available on the wiki page above).

The Glasgow School of Art has hidden the Quick links menu via their custom theme, but they have also embedded a tutorial video on their homepage, along with some general tips, canned searches, and links to a help static page and a FAQ

In addition to their gorgeous theme that showcases some links on the homepage, the Oregon Historical Society also has a great search help page here, that includes a hyperlink table of contents at the top. They have also enabled the static page menu, so links to their other static pages appear in the left-hand sidebar of every static page throughout the site. Read more about enabling and configuring the static page menu in our documentation here: 
There are plenty more as well! You can explore further examples of AtoM sites in production via our wiki page here: 
Hope this helps!

Dan Gillean, MAS, MLIS
AtoM Program Manager
Artefactual Systems, Inc.

You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google Groups "AtoM Users" group.
To unsubscribe from this group and stop receiving emails from it, send an email to
To view this discussion on the web visit
Reply all
Reply to author
0 new messages