Monday, April 20, 2009

Deploying the AT Across Multiple Yale Repositories: Implementation

In setting up the AT for use across multiple Yale repositories we encountered a number of practical issues that needed to be resolved. The two most important were the need for standardization of practice and administrative set-up of the AT.
  1. Standardization of practice
    Each of the four participating repositories accessioned and managed special collections in a different way. To maximize the Toolkit's effectiveness we therefore needed to create standard procedures for accessioning, including defining a minimum-level accession record and application of consistent accession numbers. In addition, we created documentation in the form of instructions, guidelines, and tutorials to instruct both initial and future participants.

  2. AT set-up
    Again, given the variety exhibited in participating repositories' practices and collections information, we had to carefully consider whether to customize the Toolkit (e.g. use of user-defined fields, unique field labels, default values, etc.) to meet specific repository needs. The major challenge posed, however, was that the Toolkit only allows for customization across the AT instance as a whole and not specific to one repository within that instance.

    We had set up one database instance for the AT at Yale and created repositories for each of the special collections within it. An alternative strategy would have been to create separate instances for each repository, allowing for repository specific customization. The goal of the project, however, was to create one means for managing and querying special collections information across Yale's special collections. In addition, given the lack of distributed technical expertise and support, we decided to centrally manage the AT in a single instance.

    We initially chose not to customize the Toolkit, maintaining a vanilla installation for the Music Library, Arts Library, and Divinity Library collections. Given the sheer volume of collections information in Manuscripts and Archives (MSSA), however, we decided to create a separate MSSA instance, mostly for testing legacy data import, but also to incorporate MSSA-specific data elements in user-defined fields. We are also currently contracting out customization of the Toolkit to handle collections management processes, including Integrated Library System (ILS) export.

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