Bridging The ALM Divide: An Integrated Archive-Library-Museum Approach for Hybrid Institutions


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For many years, institutions housing archive, library, and museum (ALM) collections have catalogued their holdings either into specialized software for each area types, or have forced their collection records into systems which do not take into account the cataloging standards of the field those materials represent. New technology now allows us to rethink the way ALM assets can be catalogued, not only according to professional standards, but in a collaborative environment. Bridging the ALM Divide demonstrates how cataloguing into a collaborative environment enhances research, protects collections, increases access and interpretation and secures professional standards. This presentation was prepared by Francesco Spagnolo, PhD, Director of Research and Collections, and Perian Sully, Collection Information Manager at The Magnes.


  • 1. Bridging the ALM Divide An Integrated Archive-Library-Museum Approach for Hybrid Institutions Dr. Francesco Spagnolo, Director of Research and Collections Perian Sully, Collection Information Manager & Web Programs Strategist The Magnes, Berkeley, CA Presented at the American Association of Museums Annual Conference, Philadelphia, May 3, 2009
  • 2. Magnes: A Collecting History
    • Founded in 1962
    • Wide range of collecting areas, including
      • Jews of the American West
      • global Jewish Diaspora
      • Jews in exotic locations China, North Africa, India
      • ceremonial objects
      • fine and decorative arts
      • music
      • rare books
      • cultural ephemera
      • historical documents
    • Three major collecting departments -
      • Western Jewish History Center: 500 archival collections
      • Blumenthal Rare Book and Manuscript Library - ~10,000 items
      • Permanent Museum Collection - ~15,000 items
  • 3. Challenges of Hybrid Institutions Access Catering to a Diversified User Community Research Across Standards Culture Multicultural Aspects Bridging Textual, Documental and Material Cultures Language Multilingualism and the Levels of Access Script, Transliteration, Translation Whose Vision? One Vision! Cultural Models & Database Structure
  • 4. Learning from One Another, Learning Together (The Philosophy of ALM Integration)
    • Extending Museum Models
      • Extending Archive Models
      • Extending Library Models
  • 5. Extending Museum Models
      • Authorship, Creatorship and Parties
        • Authors and co-authors
        • Creators and co-creators
        • Donors
      • Accession Numbering
      • Tracking Movement
        • Locations
        • Containers
  • 6. Extending Archive Models Varying Notions of Collection
        • Facilities
        • Donations
        • Collecting Areas
        • Intellectual Organization of Materials
  • 7. Extending Library Models
        • Why MARC Still Matters
        • Circulation and Research
  • 8. Integrating ALM
        • Time Dates and Periods
        • Subjects Local and Global
        • Synonyms and Preferred Terms
        • Meta Collection
  • 9. Managing Institutional Change
        • Professional Standards
        • Global Perspectives
        • Interoperability of Staff Functions
          • Workflow as Ping-pong
  • 10. Technological Details
      • System used: IDEA@ALM on MS-SQL database
      • Databanks
      • Templates
      • Managing Standards: EAD, MARC, ISAD
      • Multilingual capabilities with Unicode support
      • Synonym Dictionaries
      • Global Searches and Queries
      • Flexibility
      • Compliancy with many standards and languages
      • for information sharing.
  • 11. System Structure: Databanks
      • A databank is a virtual database into which records may be sorted and stored.
    Magnes IDEA@ALM Database Archive Databank Library Databank Exhibitions Databank Administrative Databank Library Databank Museum Databank
  • 12. System Structure: Templates
      • The templates are organizational structures in which specified fields are displayed.
    Archive Databank Library Databank Museum Databank Administrative Databank Collection Series Sub-Series Document Photo Rare Book Manuscript Object Individuals Image Location Valuation Condition Ketubbah
  • 13. System Structure: Templates
  • 14. System Structure: Templates
  • 15. System Structure: Managing Standards
      • Metadata Standards Applied to Magnes Installation:
      • EAD
      • MARC
      • ISAD
    Scope and Content (Archive) EAD: MARC: 520 ISAD: 3.3.1 Description (Museum) Abstract (Library)
  • 16. System Structure: Mastering Multilingual Capabilities
      • Unicode
      • Synonyms
      • Phonetic searches
      • Translations
      • Transliterations
  • 17. Technological Structure: Searches
      • Search across all databanks, templates, and fields
      • Narrow searches to specific fields, databanks, and templates
      • Boolean, fuzzy, exact, phonetic searches
      • Synonym and preferred-term searches
      • Multilingual searches
  • 18. Technological Structure: Flexibility
      • Power Users may modify:
      • Fields
      • Databanks
      • Templates
      • Layouts and structures
      • Which fields are displayed on internet portal
  • 19. Big Picture How We Got Here
      • Evaluated our information management needs
      • Received support from the Executive Director and Board
      • Interviewed staff & analyzed staff workflow
      • Worked with vendor to develop system based on institutional needs
      • Determined which individual professional processes could be rethought to support the whole
      • Created workflow within the system to support information access
  • 20. Struggles & What Weve Learned
      • Staff adoption has been slow, since we have been making changes along the way
      • Confusion about how to use the system