Opening AtoM catalogs to the public

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Robert Dirig

Dec 7, 2017, 4:51:06 PM12/7/17
to AtoM Users
We are planning to open our AtoM catalog to the public and would like to hear from other institutions that have already done this. What was your experience dealing with issues such as: permissions, access levels, IT issues, allowing access to the main site vs. separate public one, etc.? Also, if you could include the link to your public site, that would be helpful. 

Thank you, 
Bob Dirig
ArtCenter College of Design

Dan Gillean

Dec 7, 2017, 5:30:26 PM12/7/17
to ICA-AtoM Users
Hi Bob, 

I'm hoping that our community will pick on this and respond with some insights. In the meantime, thought you might find this slide deck interesting - a little showcase of some public-facing AtoM sites out there that shows off some of the different ways that our community is using AtoM: 
One thing that many of our community users have done to help their users orient themselves is to create a series of Help pages using the static pages module - for example, instructions on how to search, FAQs, basic archival terminology primers, and the like. Here's a few examples of the search help pages (recently shared in another user forum thread): 
I like that Borthwick has a Glossary of terms, and and FAQ, and that Dalhousie includes a separate Browse help page, and a link to an external set of resources on conducting archival research on their About page. There are many other examples out there too! The CNSA's MemoryNS portal went as far as producing a playlist of short tutorial videos on using the catalogue, uploading these to YouTube, and then embedding them in a static page. The BC Archives at the Royal BC Museum produced 2 different PDFs to help users navigate the catalogue and its search abilities - a short guide (PDF) and an extended version (PDF). All of these are great ways to help your users understand what they are seeing, and what they can do with it to find what they need.

Most of these sites have also added custom content to their homepages to welcome and orient their users, and in many cases they have changed some of the default menu and user interface labels to make them less "archival" - using "People/Organizations" or even just "Names" for authority records, for example - and in some cases (depending on the diversity of content) changing "Digital objects" to other labels like "Digital media," "Inages," "Photographs and documents," etc. It's also a good idea to remove the browse links to modules you are not using (like Functions, for example), if you haven't already! 

There are surely many other cosmetic things you can do to prepare your catalogue for public use - but I see you are also mainly asking about deployment and access management decisions and challenges. For this, I'm hopeful that members of our community can chime in with some of their experiences and tips. In the meantime, Borthwick has done a number of usability tests since they went public, and you can find information on their last round of testing on their blog, here: 

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