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Accessions

Accessions form an important first step in gaining physical and intellectual control over the resources held by an archival institution or other form of repository. “Accession” tends to be used as both a noun and a verb - here are some definitions adapted from the SAA Glossary:

  • An accession is made up of materials physically and legally transferred to a repository as a unit, which will be processed by staff and added to the institutions’ holdings. In AtoM, an accession implies the first deposit of materials - accessions added to an existing fonds or collection are known as accruals.
  • To accession something is to take legal and physical custody of a group of records or other materials and to formally document their receipt. This helps maintain the chain of custody over the records required to maintain their authenticity over time.

The accession record is the means by which the accessioning process is documented - an accession record is an administrative and descriptive document that summarizes standard information about the process of transferring materials to a repository, including information about the provenance, contents and legal and physical transfer of the records such as, rights and restrictions. It often precedes arrangement and description, and can be used as the basis for the creation of an archival description once the materials have been arranged.

Below are instructions for using the Accessions module in AtoM to:

Note

You must have a user account with sufficient edit permissions to access the accessions module of AtoM, such as an administrator or editor. For more information on types of users and edit permissions, see User roles.

Add a new accession record

  1. In the main menu located in the header bar, click the plus “Add” menu and select “Accession records” from the drop-down menu.
An image of of the Add menu in AtoM
  1. AtoM takes you to an accession record edit page screen for data entry. If you have the Accession mask enabled, then the Accession number field will be automatically assigned a Unique ID based on the mask settings - for more information, see: Accession mask. If the mask setting is turned off, the field will be empty. Add a unique value to the Accession number field or make edits to the pre-populated one as needed.
An image of the accessions edit page

Tip

Administrators can turn the accession mask on or off, and alter the default accession mask and counter (from which the accession number is generated) by navigating to gears Admin > Settings > Accession mask. For more information, see: Accession mask and Enable accession mask in Settings - see also the example provided in the section on altering the accessions mask for legacy accessions, below.

An image of the accessions mask in Global settings
  1. If you attempt to use a value for the Accession number that is not unique (i.e. is already in use by another accession record), AtoM will provide a warning, and will not allow the record to be saved until the Accession number is edited and a unique value is added.
An image of the accession number warning
  1. The accession record edit template provides a variety of field types for data entry (e.g., calendar, free-text, pop-up dialogs and drop-downs). Remember to click on each information area to access the data entry fields grouped under it. Enter data as required (further information on filling out specific parts of the accession record is included below).
  2. Click the “Create” button in the button block to create and save the new accession record. If you do not want to keep the record you can click the “Cancel” button and remove the record.
An image of the accession button block

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Add a donor

In the Edit accession record screen, under the Donor/Transferring body area you can enter the names and contact information for related donors using the donor dialog. Click the “Add new” button to open the Donor dialog and add a new donor.

An image of the donor Area in the Accessions edit template

In the donor dialog that will pop-up, the Name field at the top of the dialog is an autocomplete field. To link to an existing donor record, begin typing the name of the related Donor into the Name field - as you type, matches will appear in a drop-down menu below the field and you can click on a name there to select it. Alternatively, you can create a new donor record by typing a new name, and completing the other related fields in the Donor dialog.

An image of the donor dialog in the accession edit template

Fields in the donor dialog are organized into 3 tabs - Main, Physical location, and Other details. Be sure to click on each tab and complete the related fields in the dialog as needed. Fields available in the donor dialog include:

  • Name - an autcomplete field where you can link to an existing donor record or enter a new name to create a new donor record.
  • Main tab:
    • Contact person
    • Telephone
    • Fax
    • Email
    • URL
  • Physical location tab:
    • Street address
    • Region/province
    • Country
    • Postal code
    • City
    • Latitude
    • Longitude
  • Other details tab:
    • Contact type
    • Note

When new information is entered into the donor dialog, a new Donor record is created. Alternatively, if you have selected an existing donor using the autcomplete values in the Name field, you can edit the existing contact information.

Donor records can be accessed via the main menu by navigating to manage Manage > Donors.

Tip

Donor records can be created and managed separately from accession records. For a full explanation of donors, go to the Donor records page

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Add rights to an accession record

After an accession record is created, you may add a rights record to it by clicking “More” then “Create new rights in the button block.

Rights entry form accessed in the button block

The rights entry page will appear. Multiple rights basis and granted rights can be added. For a full explanation of rights, go to the Rights page.

An image of the rights entry page accessed from the accessions edit page

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View the accession record

After creating an accession record, save your new data by clicking “Save” in the button block at the bottom of the accession record edit page (A user also has the option of clicking “Cancel”, but all data entered will be lost), you can review the data in the accession record view page.

Notice that the linked archival description is now presented as a hyperlink in the accession record.

A link to a description generated from an accession

In the button block at the bottom of the screen you have the option(s) to:

The button block on an accession view page

Tip

You can always return to your accession record later via the main menu, by navigating to manage Manage > Acessions and selecting a record from the accessions browse page

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Edit an existing accession record

Existing accession records can be upated at any time by a logged-in user with edit privileges.

  1. Navigate to the record you want to edit. You can do this via the main menu in the AtoM header bar, by clicking on manage Manage > Accessions. For more information on navigation in AtoM, see: Access content
  2. AtoM will redirect you to the accession record browse page. Select the record you want by clicking on the hyperlink Identifier. You can also search for an accession record with the accession records search box located at the bottom of the browse page. For more information on searching for accession records in AtoM, see: Searching for accession records.
The accession record browse page

Tip

Archival descriptions that are created from an accession record will have a hyperlink to their related accession record. The hyperlink is located in the “Accession” information area at the bottom of the archival description view page.

A link to a related accession in an archival description

Logged-in users with permissions can select the hyperlink accession record identifier and AtoM will take them to the related accession record view page. Unauthenticated users (i.e. those who are not logged in) will not be able to see the Accessions area; logged-in Users without permissions can see the hyperlink but cannot access the accession record.

  1. Once you have selected an accession record, you will be redirected to the selected record’s view page. To enter edit mode, you can either click the “Edit” button in the button block at the bottom of the view page, or click on any of the information area headings in the accession record. The accession record will reload in edit mode.
The button block on an accession view page
  1. On loading, the edit page displays the record with all information areas closed; click on an information area to access the fields grouped under it.
  2. Add or edit data as required
  3. To discard all changes, click the “Cancel” button in the button block; AtoM returns you to the view page, with no changes saved.
  4. To save your changes, click the “Save” button in the button block. AtoM will reload the page in view mode, with all changes saved, so you can review your work.

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Add an accrual

An accrual is “an acquisition additional to a unit of description already held by a repository” (ISAD glossary). AtoM users with edit permissions can add an accrual to an existing accession record. To do so:

  1. Navigate to the accession record to which you would like to add an accrual. Instructions on how to do so are outlined above in Edit an existing accession record.
  2. When you have selected the accession record, scroll to the bottom of the view page and click the “Add accrual” button in the button block.
The button block on an accession view page
  1. You will be redirected to an accession record edit page, but but at the top of the edit template a message will read: “You are creating an accrual of the accession YYY-MM-DD/#.” (where YYYY-MM-DD/# represents the Accession number to which you are adding an accrual)
The message at the top of a new accrual record
  1. The edit template provided for the accrual is the same as that of a new accession record. Add data as required. See Add a new accession record above for more information on working with the accession record template.
  2. After completing the new accrual information in the edit page, click on “Create” in the button block at the bottom of the page. Your new data will be saved, and you will be redirected to a view page where you can review your work.
  3. When viewing the accession record for the accrual, you will notice that in the Administrative information area an “Accrual to” data field shows the related original accession record. The data is a hyperlink that can be clicked to navigate to the original accession record.
A link to the original accession on an accrual
  1. Alternatively, if a User views the original accession record, in the Administrative area an “Accruals” data field shows the related accrual.
A link to related accruals on an accession

Note

An accrual cannot be added to an accrual - it must belong to the original accession record. Therefore, If a User views the accession record of an accrual, the “Add accrual” button is not available in the button block. If the accession record is an original however, the “Add accrual” button is available in the button block. There is no limit to how many accruals can be added to an original accession record.

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Add a legacy accession record

Users who have recently migrated to AtoM, or are catching up on a backlog of accessions, may need to add new accession records that have older dates encoded in the accession number. There are several ways this can be done in AtoM - however, the first two require that a user have administrator access to the application.

Method 1: CSV Import

AtoM offers administrators the ability to import data in multiple formats including CSV (comma separated value) import. Accession records can be imported via CSV using the Accession record CSV template provided for users on the AtoM wiki; further instructions are included on the CSV import page. The accessions CSV import method has no restrictions on the accession number formatting - consequently, users can import multiple legacy accession records at once using this method.

  • For more information on importing descriptions and terms via CSV in this manual, see: CSV import

Method 2: Altering the Accessions mask

Users interested in creating an accession record that has a legacy accession number associated with it via the AtoM user interface, can do so by first editing the Accessions mask in the Admin > Settings > Global area, and then creating a new accession record.

An image of the accessions mask in Global settings

By default, AtoM creates the accession record identifier as a unique number compiled from [YEAR MONTH DAY Incremental#] - this is denoted in the Global settings “Accession mask” as %Y-%m-%d/#i. A fixed value can be entered for any of the date variables (year, month, day) used in the accession mask, to create a number of legacy accessions from the same year and month, for example.

EXAMPLE

To create a number of accessions from October 1998, an administrator could edit the Accession mask like so: 1998-10/#i

If the changes are saved in gears Admin > Settings > Global, then when a user next creates a new accession record, the accession number will read:

  • 1998-10/1

And the following accession record’s identifier (accession number) will read:

  • 1998-10/2

Warning

These changes will stay in effect until an administrator returns to the global settings menu via gears Admin > Settings > Global and returns the Accession mask to the default setting. Don’t forget to do this, or all your new accessions will appear to be legacy accessions!

Method 3: Disabling the Accessions mask

The accessions mask is provided to help users apply consistent and unique identifiers to accessions. Users always have the ability to edit the pre-populated values provided by the accessions mask when creating a new accession record.

However, when working with legacy accessions, it may be easier to simply disable the accessions mask, and manually populate the Accession number field. An administrator can do this via gears Admin > Settings - for more information, see: Accession mask and Enable accession mask in Settings.

An image of the accessions mask in Global settings

Note that, even with the Accessions mask disabled, AtoM will still attempt to enforce unique Accession number values. If you attempt to use a value for the Accession number that is not unique (i.e. is already in use by another accession record), AtoM will provide a warning, and will not allow the record to be saved until the Accession number is edited and a unique value is added.

An image of the accession number warning

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Create an archival description from an accession record

After you create a new accession record, you can create an archival description by clicking on the button “Create Archival description” in the button block.

Archival descriptions can be generated from an accession record at any time; it does not have to be at the time of creation. To create an archival description from an existing accession record, follow the first steps outlined in Edit an existing accession record to browse existing accession records and select the one that you would like to use.

The accession record is not aimed at end-user description, but AtoM provides the option to create an archival description from an accession record to prevent uneccessary re-entry of existing data an improve a user’s workflow. The following archival description fields inherit the data entered into the accession record:

  • Title
  • Name of creator(s)
  • Archival/custodial history
  • Scope & content
  • Physical condition

Name access points (drawn from creators) and Rights added to the accession record are also inherited into the archival description.

When you navigate to the accession record you want to work with:

  1. Scroll to the bottom of the accession record’s view page.
  2. Click the “Create archival description” button located in the button block.
The button block on an accession view page
  1. AtoM will generate an archival description using the fields listed above, and then will take you to the new description’s view page. You can see that the data you entered into the accession record fields: title, name of creator, archival/custodial history, scope & content and physical condition are all inherited into the archival description. If you added rights to the accession they are also inherited.
  2. The new archival description is saved as a draft record - the title of the new description is derived from the data entered into the title field of the originating accession record.
  3. The archival description can now be edited by clicking on the “Edit” button in the button block at the bottom of the description’s view page. For more information on editing an archival description, see: Edit an existing archival description.
  4. A link to the original accession record is maintained in the Accession information area in the archival description. Similarly, a link to the archival description is added to the related accession record. These are hyperlinks; clicking them in either record will take the user to the related record.
A link to the related accession on an archival description

Note

Logged-in users with permissions can select the hyperlink accession record identifier and AtoM will take them to the related accession record view page. Unauthenticated users (i.e. those who are not logged in) will not be able to see the Accessions area in the archival description, and they will not be able to access the Accessions module; logged-in Users without permissions can see the hyperlink but cannot access the accession record.

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Delete an accession record

To delete an accession record in AtoM:

  1. Navigate to the accession record you want to delete. You can locate all accessions in AtoM by clicking on “Manage” in the main menu (located in the AtoM header bar) and selecting “Accessions” from the drop-down menu. For more information on navigation in AtoM, see Access content. For more information on locating accession records in AtoM, see the Edit an existing accession record section above.
  2. Scroll to the bottom of the selected accession record’s view page, where the button block is located.
The button block on an accession view page
  1. If you click on the “Delete” button, AtoM will offer a warning. If the accession has accruals associated with it this will be noted in the warning message - accruals will not be deleted with an accession, and must be deleted separately
  2. If you choose to proceed and click “Confirm” the entire accession record will be permanently deleted. Clicking “Cancel” will return a user to the accession record view page.

Note

Instead of permanently deleting an accession record we recommend creating a deaccession record. This way all records created by the archival institution or repository can be preserved for future reference.

For more information on creating a deaccession record, see: Add a new deaccession record

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