Issues with Box-level descriptions

55 views
Skip to first unread message

Debra Schiff

unread,
Apr 22, 2024, 2:14:36 PMApr 22
to AtoM Users
Hi,
We're trying to create box-level descriptions under series. The boxes have folders. When we try to use boxes, the left-side holdings don't display properly, and show the folders, but not the boxes. We can't get the correct order in the hierarchy. 
Please help! 
Thanks!
Your pal in Jersey,
Deb Schiff

Dan Gillean

unread,
Apr 23, 2024, 11:18:45 AMApr 23
to ica-ato...@googlegroups.com
Hi Debra, 

I believe that this comes down to a bit of a difference in archival description paradigms across jurisdictions, as this generally comes up with new U.S. AtoM users. AtoM purposefully separates the intellectual arrangement of an archival unit (i.e. fonds, record group, collection, etc) from its physical arrangement - because how an archivist organizes materials intellectually into a series then a file for example, may not 100% represent how physical realities require those materials going into new housings like boxes and folders. 

For example: If the original creator had a box's worth of materials crammed into a single folder, then when you rehouse those materials, it's very likely you are not going to overstuff a single archival folder just to match the original arrangement - you are more likely to make a note of this in the arrangement but physically split the contents into as many folders as needed. That is to say: intellectually, this remains one FILE, even if in practice it is rehoused into multiple folders. 

This distinction seems to be a common sticking point when U.S. users first move to AtoM, as most Canadian and European users tend not to use "Box" or "Folder" as intellectual levels of arrangement, and therefore they are not included in AtoM's level of description taxonomy by default. They are also separated out because many archival users we have encountered see making physical location information public a potential security risk, and so they either do not use AtoM's physical storage module (preferring to manage the information elsewhere), or else use the Visible Elements module to keep physical storage information fully hidden from public users. 

In the meantime, you can find many longer discussions of this, as well as some possible workarounds, by looking at some previous threads on this topic in the forum. Here are the results of a quick search for "Archon box" - in particular, I recommend taking a look at the threads related to m.gorzalski, as these were all about reconciling differences between AtoM and Archon during a migration project, and this particular issue came up a lot: 
My short answer would be: 

AtoM's physical storage module, where you can manage boxes and folders related to their actual on-site physical location, is pretty basic at the moment and in need of further development. Use it mainly for adding box/folder barcodes or lookup numbers

If you are using box and folder as part of your public arrangement information in the archival unit's hierarchy, then I suggest that you add "Box" as a custom level of description in the Levels of Description taxonomy, and modify the default "File" term to say "Folder" instead. Then you should be able to use AtoM's existing arrangement and description functionality as needed to create and manage your hierarchies. For managing taxonomies and terms, see: 
Cheers, 

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


--
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 ica-atom-user...@googlegroups.com.
To view this discussion on the web visit https://groups.google.com/d/msgid/ica-atom-users/110d389d-c4ad-4da0-a7c0-d7757edc80f7n%40googlegroups.com.

Schiff, Debra

unread,
Apr 23, 2024, 11:29:01 AMApr 23
to ica-ato...@googlegroups.com
Hi Dan,

Thanks for the explanation. Prior to my writing to the group, I had followed the instructions to add Box to the levels of description taxonomy, and changed file to folder. So, that didn't fix the hierarchical issue. Any other suggestions?

Best regards,
Deb Schiff
Archivist and Special Collections Librarian
R. Barbara Gitenstein Library
The College of New Jersey
PO Box 7718
Ewing, NJ 08628-0718
pronouns: she/her/hers



You received this message because you are subscribed to a topic in the Google Groups "AtoM Users" group.
To unsubscribe from this topic, visit https://groups.google.com/d/topic/ica-atom-users/w3r1xf9TTuw/unsubscribe.
To unsubscribe from this group and all its topics, send an email to ica-atom-user...@googlegroups.com.
To view this discussion on the web visit https://groups.google.com/d/msgid/ica-atom-users/CAC1FhZJ%2BUSUWRRdAdVVcfPszXbKn_1uNd9MpsqOmvfyf2%3DS6eQ%40mail.gmail.com.

Dan Gillean

unread,
Apr 23, 2024, 11:49:17 AMApr 23
to ica-ato...@googlegroups.com
Hi Debra, 

Here are a couple more ideas to explore...

We use a Nested set model to help manage the hierarchical relationships of an archival unit in the relatively flat, table-like structure of the MySQL database. Sometimes, this nested set can get corrupted, and needs to be rebuilt. This would be the first thing I would try - we have a command-line task for this, which can be run from AtoM's root installation directory: 
You might also want to clear the application cache and restart PHP-FPM as well, just to ensure that you are not looking at out of date cached results. See: 
Alternatively, are you using the sidebar treeview? AtoM has 2 possible treeviews available, see: 
There is a known issue with the sidebar treeview when the sort settings are changed from the default "Manual" sort, that can cause strange behaviors in the nodes of the sidebar treeview. See these previous threads for more information: 
The short term fix is to simply switch back to using the Manual sort option, and/or switch to the Full-width treeview. See the related sort setting here: 
If problems persist, then the steps above to rebuild the nested set and clear the various caches should hopefully resolve those. 

Let me know if these tips help!

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

Schiff, Debra

unread,
Apr 23, 2024, 11:59:00 AMApr 23
to ica-ato...@googlegroups.com, Kerin Shellenbarger, Christopher Larthey
Thanks, Dan. We'll give it a try.

I've copied our IT partner on this thread so he might try the command-line task and other fixes, if that one doesn't solve the problem.

I appreciate your help.

Best regards,
Deb Schiff
Archivist and Special Collections Librarian
R. Barbara Gitenstein Library
The College of New Jersey
PO Box 7718
Ewing, NJ 08628-0718
pronouns: she/her/hers


Reply all
Reply to author
Forward
0 new messages