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Functions

A function is a type of entity that describes activities linked to records creation, maintenance, and use. The International Council on Archives (ICA) defines a function as:

Any high level purpose, responsibility or task assigned to the accountability agenda of a corporate body by legislation, policy or mandate. Functions may be decomposed into sets of co-ordinated operations such as subfunctions, business processes, activities, tasks or transactions.
Function, Corporate bodies, and records relationships as depicted in the ISDF standard

From the ISDF, Appendix A: “Representation of the relationships of functions with corporate bodeis and archival resources”

Associated predominantly with corporate bodies, functions may be generally understood as the activities of an organization (or individual, in some cases) performed to accomplish some mandate or mission. Traditional attempts to track the provenance of records created by corporate bodies became stymied by the constantly-changing nature of bureaucratic organizations - a department, for example, may have its name changed many times throughout its existence; it may assume broader responsibilities over time, be merged with other departments, or eventually decommissioned; equally, it may fall under the jurisdiction of many different divisions or other higher-level organizational units throughout its existence. To ensure more accurate records management over time, many organizations have applied a system of functional classication, which is based on the analysis of functions and activities of an organization, and the transactions which consitute these activities.

In 2007, recognizing the value that this approach could have for archivists, the ICA released its first draft of the International Standard for Describing Functions. In the overview to the standard, they point out the value that the description of functions can have, noting that it can play a “vital role” in explaining the provenance of records by “placing them more securily in the context of their creation and use.” Understanding how and wny records were created, what purpose or function they were designed to fulfil, and how they relate to other records created by the same organization can be essential for properly interpreting archival materials. The ICA notes:

Descriptions of functions are intended to complement and supplement descriptions of records created in accordance with ISAD(G) and authority records created in accordance with ISAAR(CPF). Keeping information on functions separate both from descriptions of records and authority records means less repetition of information and allows for the construction of flexible archival descriptive systems.

In AtoM, functions are structured into information areas based on the International Council on Archives’ International Standard for Describing Functions, First edition, May 2007 (ISDF).

Below are instruction for using the Functions module in AtoM to:

For information on working with specific fields in AtoM’s functions edit page, see:

  • International Standard for Describing Functions (ISDF)

Add a new function

An example of a function in AtoM

An example of a function record in AtoM

This section contains instructions on how to create a new function record in AtoM. Note that a user must be logged in to AtoM with sufficient access privileges to create new records. For more information on user permissions, see: User roles and Default user permissions settings in AtoM.

There are 3 main ways a new function can be created - doing so via the plus “Add” menu is the easiest, but to accommodate different workflows, functions can be added from the functions browse page, or from the view page of an existing function. Below are instructions to add a new function:

For information on working with specific fields in AtoM’s functions edit page, see: ISDF.

Add a new function from the main menu

Choosing functions in the Add menu

A new function can be added at any time, from anywhere in the application, via the main menu, provided that a user has sufficient access privileges to create new records. For more information on user permissions, see: User roles and Default user permissions settings in AtoM.

To create a new function from the main menu

  1. In the main menu located in the header bar, click the plus “Add” menu and select “Function” from the drop-down menu.
  2. AtoM takes you to a blank edit page for data entry.
  3. 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. Enter data as required.
An image of a blank ISDF record in edit mode

When creating a new function from the Add menu, all information areas will appear closed on the blank function record - click to open and add data as required.

  1. You can quit the process at any time by clicking the “Cancel” button in the button block; any data already entered will not be saved and no new record will be added. Note that simply navigating away from the page by any other means, without first clicking “Create” will also result in no new record being created.
  2. To save the new function record, click the “Create” button in the button block at the bottom of the record. AtoM will redirect you to the function’s view page, so you can review your work.

Add a new function from the Functions browse page

Choosing functions in the Browse menu
  1. Using the browse menu located in the AtoM header bar, navigate to Browse > Functions. AtoM will redirect you to the functions browse page. See Browse menu for more information on the Browse menu, and Browse for more information on browsing in AtoM.
  2. At the bottom of the functions browse page, you will see the button block. Click the Add new button.
An image of the "Add new" button in the button block
  1. AtoM takes you to a blank edit page for data entry.
  2. 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. Enter data as required.
  3. You can quit the process at any time by clicking the “Cancel” button in the button block; any data already entered will not be saved and no new record will be added. Note that simply navigating away from the page by any other means, without first clicking “Create” will also result in no new record being created.
  4. To save the new function record, click the “Create” button in the button block at the bottom of the record. AtoM will redirect you to the function’s view page, so you can review your work.

Add a new function from the view page of an existing function

An image of the "Add new" button in the button block of an existing function
  1. Navigate to an existing function. You can do so using the browse menu located in the AtoM header bar and navigating to Browse > Functions. AtoM will redirect you to the functions browse page. Click on an existing function to view the function record in view mode.
  2. At the bottom of the function’s view page, you will see the button block with several options (Edit, Delete, and Add new). Click the Add new button.
  3. AtoM takes you to a blank edit page for data entry.
  4. 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. Enter data as required.
  5. You can quit the process at any time by clicking the “Cancel” button in the button block; any data already entered will not be saved and no new record will be added. Note that simply navigating away from the page by any other means, without first clicking “Create” will also result in no new record being created.
  6. To save the new function record, click the “Create” button in the button block at the bottom of the record. AtoM will redirect you to the function’s view page, so you can review your work.

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Edit an existing function

An editor or other users with sufficient access privileges can review and revise existing functions at any time. To edit an existing function in AtoM:

  1. Navigate to the function you want to edit. You can do so using the browse menu located in the AtoM header bar and navigating to Browse > Functions, and then either selecting the desired function from the list, or using the search bar provided on the Functions browse page. For more information on searching and browsing in AtoM, see Access content.
An image of the dedicated search box available in Browse functions

The browse functions page includes a sort button (alphabetic or most recent) and a dedicated functions search box to help you locate the function you wish to edit.

  1. When you have located the function you would like to edit, click on it to view the function in view mode. AtoM will take you to the view page for the function.
  2. Enter edit mode either by clicking the “Edit” button located in the button block at the bottom of the record, or by clicking on one of the area headers; this takes you to the function’s edit page.
  3. Add and/or revise data as required. See ISDF for field-specific guidance.
  4. You can quit the edit process at any time by clicking the “Cancel” button in the button block; any data already entered or altered will not be saved. Note that simply navigating away from the page by any other means, without first clicking “Save” will also result in no changes record being saved.
  5. To save your edits, click the “Save” button located in the button block at the bottom of the record. AtoM will reload the page in view mode so you can review your changes.

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Delete a function

A function can be deleted at any time, via the main menu, provided that a user has sufficient access privileges to delete records. For more information on user permissions, see: User roles and Default user permissions settings in AtoM.

To delete a function permanently in AtoM:

  1. Navigate to the function you would like to delete. You can do this by going to the Browse page for functions (Browse > Functions) and then either browsing through the list, or using the dedicated Functions search bar on the Browse functions page to find the related function. Click on the function to navigate to its view page. For more information on browsing and searching in AtoM, see: Browse or Search.
  2. At the bottom of the page, click the Delete button located in the button block.
  3. AtoM will provide a warning, and prompt you to confirm the delete request. If you wish to abort the delete process, click “Cancel” - AtoM will return you to the function view page. If you are sure you would like to permanently delete the function, click “Delete” - AtoM will remove the function, and redirect you to the Functions browse page.
An image example of a delete warning for a function in AtoM

Important

Consequenses of deleting a function: The function will be deleted permanently, and will also be removed from any related functions, archival descriptions, and authority records. (The related entities will not be deleted however).

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