RIT Archivist Chooses the Archivists’ Toolkit

June 1, 2007

Email received today from Becky Simmons of the Rochester Institute of Technology:

I did compare the two systems [ARCHON and Archivists’ Toolkit], but I want to warn you that I have not implemented either of them, and therefore have no real experience using them. I was simply comparing the interface, user manuals, and basic data about the systems. That said, we have decided to go with AT.

The interface for Archon is very user friendly, and it is easy to use. It also publishes a web site that is very compelling. But we had some issues loading the system, and that caused the technical folks here at RIT to shy away from it. Archon has no accession module, although Chris Prom, archivist at University of Illinois told me that they are planning an accessions module as part of the new version due out this summer.

AT offers more fields for information (way more that I will ever need) and a number of reports and ways of compiling statistics. AT has a user group, and a system and people on staff to deal with bugs. Once the findings aid are output in EAD, your institution will need to create a style sheet to publish to the web. We are also looking into a search engine that can search across the finding aids.

Archon is a product of one institution – U of Illinois, while AT is a Mellon funded project that will continue through 2011, with a number of important institutions involved from the start. It seemed like the support for the system would be there long term, which ultimately was the basis of our decision. AT’s user manual is very complete, and very detailed, with information on the associated EAD fields.

I suggest you take a look at the messages in the AT users group. There you will get a feel for the types of issues people are having with the system. It looks like the problems are technical issues with certain very small parts of the system. But it looks to me like all issues are being addressed by staff members who monitor the e-mail list. You can also look at the list of current bugs on their website. Archon has a user group as well, and it may be useful to take a look at theirs as well.

Good luck with your choice,

Becky Simmons
RIT Archivist
RIT Libraries
Rochester Institute of Technology
90 Lomb Memorial Drive
Rochester, NY 14623
(585) 475-2557

 

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