Question to create levels of descriptions from accession numbers to already archived descriptions

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maria.pap...@embl.de

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Jan 29, 2024, 11:32:54 AMJan 29
to ica-ato...@googlegroups.com, Viktor Osminin

Dear colleagues,

 

 

I would like to ask you about something that has confused me a bit regarding the creation of description levels from accession items to already created archival descriptions.

 

We know how to link accession items to already created archival descriptions, but we do not know how to make part of the description level the accession item.

 

I hope that my question is clear.

 

With kind regards,

 

Maria

 

 

 

Maria Papanikolaou

Archives and Records Manager

EMBL Archives and Records Management,

Office for Scientific Information Management (OSIM),

 

European Molecular Biology Laboratory
Meyerhofstraße 1
69117 Heidelberg Germany
maria.papanikolaou @embl.de
+49 (0)6221 387-8719
www.embl.org
www.embl.org/archive

 

Dan Gillean

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Jan 29, 2024, 4:01:12 PMJan 29
to ica-ato...@googlegroups.com
Hi Maria, 

I am not sure I totally understand the question, but I can provide some additional information about how accessions and descriptions work in AtoM that may help. If not, perhaps it will at least help me understand your question and use case better. 

First, some basics, to avoid any misunderstanding: 

In AtoM, an accession record is an internal-only (i.e. not accessible to public users) record used to help track the physical, legal, and intellectual transfer of custody of an aggregate of records. They are records intended for archivists that capture high-level information about an archival unit until it can be properly arranged and described. From our docs

"...an accession record is an administrative and descriptive document that summarizes standard information about the process of transferring materials to a repository, including information about the provenance, contents and legal and physical transfer of the records such as, rights and restrictions. It often precedes arrangement and description, and can be used as the basis for the creation of an archival description once the materials have been arranged."

In our data model, the relationship between an archival description and accession is many-to-many - meaning one accession can be linked to many descriptions, and one description can be linked to many accessions. However, in practice, you should not have one accession record for every archival description - an accession relates to a grouping of records received during a deposit or transfer of materials to an archive. That means if you receive an entire fonds at once, it likely may have only one accession record. If you receive more records later, you can choose to just relate the accession record to the same fonds, or to a new intermediary level you create (like a series). 

Linking existing descriptions to existing (or new) accession records

Let's say we have a series with many files and items that were received as part of an accrual to an existing fonds. If you have already created the series and its descendants, and now you want to link it to your new accrual record, there is an autocomplete field available for doing so from the accession record. 
Simply start typing the name of the series into the autocomplete, and hopefully it should come up in the results. 

In general, I would recommend you only link the series-level (and from that understand that any lower-level files and items were also part of the accrual), rather than trying to individually link every lower-level file and item in that series back to the accession record. 

If you cannot find the correct Series with the autocomplete: 

AtoM's autocomplete fields are not great - they require a minimum of 3 characters to start working, but will also stop after a certain number of characters, or too many spaces, etc. They will also only show a max of 10 matching results in the autocomplete drop-down. Meaning if you have many records with similar names (e.g. "Correspondence") it can be difficult to find and link the correct record. 

One workaround we have seen shared:
  1. Navigate to the target series and enter edit mode
  2. Add a unique word to the start of the title, e.g. "Zebra", and save
  3. Go back to the accession record autocomplete, and type Zebra
  4. Make the link, and save
  5. Now go back to your Series description, and edit the title again to remove your temporary "Zebra"
This little trick is also shown in slides 21-23 of this presentation: 

Does this help? If not, can you please try to clarify the question a bit more?

Thanks in advance!

Cheers, 

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


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Maria Papanikolaou

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Feb 15, 2024, 2:39:12 PMFeb 15
to Dan Gillean' via AtoM Users
Hallo again Dan,
Thank you for your prompt reply and information and I apologise for the delay in responding.

I have one more question:

When we create the archive description and arrange the records properly, should we continue to keep the accession document or should we delete it?
Kind regards,

Maria

Dan Gillean

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Feb 15, 2024, 3:33:16 PMFeb 15
to ica-ato...@googlegroups.com
Hi Maria, 

That is entirely up to your local policies and use of the system. 

That said, I would say that most institutions will keep the accession record to maintain provenance and chain of custody, as well as any appraisal and donor information that might have been captured. In fact, even when archives choose to deaccession content, they will generally create an accompanying Deaccession record rather than deleting the accession record, even if the fonds description is no longer in the catalogue (e.g. because the content was donated, destroyed, sold, moved elsewhere, etc). 

Cheers, 

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

maria.pap...@embl.de

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Feb 16, 2024, 5:08:35 AMFeb 16
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Hi Dan,

 

Thank you for your prompt reply.

 

 

I suggest that provenance and chain of custody, appraisal and donor information can also be part of the description document. But in this case it should be publicly available, so some institutions do not want it or for some collections we are not allowed to make this information public.

However, the description record can be customised for what information is made public on AtoM, correct?

 

Can we make these adjustments to what elements of the description record we make public for specific collections?

 

Best regards,

 

Maria

Dan Gillean

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Feb 16, 2024, 8:33:46 AMFeb 16
to AtoM Users
Hi Maria, 

To some degree - though if privacy is a concern at all, then it is best to leave any private information (like donor contact information) on the accession record. 

By design, the archival descriptions were created to eventually become public-facing records - AtoM's primary function in this regard is to act as a catalogue of holdings for archival users and researchers. Similarly, by design, the accession records are set up in AtoM so that they are always internal records requiring login (and membership within the Administrator or Editor groups) to be viewable. 

Despite this, there are some ways to keep information in archival descriptions internal / private, though they have limitations. 

First, as you likely know, there is the publication status, which affects the whole record. When set to Draft, a description and any of its descendants will not be visible or searchable by public users. See: 
For individual control of fields, AtoM does have a few options - but again, these are limited, and are not fully secure. I will explain further. 

AtoM has a module called Visible Elements, which allows you to control the visibility of some fields to public users. You can also use this to control whether or not linked Physical Storage information is visible on descriptions (some institutions consider sharing this a security risk, and prefer their researchers request materials using the reference code), and what digital object metadata is displayed when a digital object is linked to a record. Not all fields can be configured this way, but the ISAD(g) and RAD templates have decent coverage. See: 
Now for the gotchas: 

When a field is hidden via Visible Elements, it is only hidden from the user interface for public users. This means: 
  • These settings are currently global - there is no way to hide the Archivists Notes field (for example) on one collection but expose it on another
  • Any user who can log in can see the hidden fields (so if you create a custom group for certain researchers to see some Draft records, or for Volunteers, etc, they will see the hidden fields)
  • The fields are not currently excluded from any exports - so if the records are public and a user exports them as a CSV or XML (any type - Dublin Core, EAD 2002, MODS, etc), then the hidden fields will be included in the export data
  • Because the findings aids you can generate in AtoM from descriptions use the EAD XML to transform the content to a PDF, this means that the hidden fields would also be visible inside any generated finding aid
We have long wanted to improve the Visible Elements module to address the last 2 issues listed above - so that if an archival description field is hidden in the user interface, it is hidden in all exports and generated finding aids as well. I know the Maintainers are aware of this problem, so we may see this enhancement in a future release, though I cannot promise if or when. 

In the meantime, I just wanted to let you know of the limitations. For this reason, I recommend that private information (such as financial appraisal information, donor information, etc) be kept on the accession record. 

Cheers, 

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

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