Collective Access - Open Source Collections Management Software
Open Source Collections
What is it?
Collections management software for museums
Collections presentation software providing
framework for web and kiosk applications;
includes media clients such as a high-resolution
image viewer and audio/video player, and can
transcode video & audio formats.
A collaboration between Whirl-i-Gig and
partner institutions in N.America & Europe.
Freely available under the open source GNU
Public License (GPL).
Version 0.5x (current version=0.55)
Originally named OpenCollection
First deployed in 2004
In use at 25+ sites (that we know of)
Version 0.6/1.0 (aka. “Providence”)
Expected release in ﬁrst half of 2009
Addresses many of the limitations of the 0.5x
model the were exposed in 4+ years of real-
world use in a variety of settings
Integrated digital asset management - support
for many media and document formats.
Extensive support for authority lists and
Conﬁgurable (but limited) support for metadata
Direct web-presence with CA-Access.
Can run on Linux/Unix, Mac OS X and
Improvements in 0.6
Localization: user interface can be in many languages.
Multilingual cataloguing: all ﬁelds support translation into
No longer object-centric: object and authority items (people,
geographic places, events, ﬁlm productions) can be given equal
importance in the user interface.
Conﬁgurable schema: all ﬁelds are now conﬁgurable. No more
Compound ﬁelds: conﬁgurable ﬁelds can be composed of many
values, each having a speciﬁc type (eg. text, date range, number,
predeﬁned pick-list, type-ahead lookup into an authority or web-
service). This makes PBCore support possible.
Pre-conﬁgured standards: Can be automatically conﬁgured to
support various metadata schemes via conﬁguration proﬁles.
Initial support for PBCore, DublinCore, CEN/TC-372, CA 0.5x
compatibility mode and a selection of use-speciﬁc custom
schemas (eg. location-based photo archive, documentary archive,
exhibition archive). You can write your own.
Improvements in 0.6
Overhauled user interface: fewer clicks, easier navigation.
Uses shiny new browser features that weren’t available in
2003-2004 when the 0.5x UI was designed.
New media types: adding built-in support for image formats
such as DPX (digital projection).
“Pluggable” search engine: can use any back-end search
engine for which a plug-in has been written. Five engines are
being developed for the ﬁrst release: PHP Lucene, Apache
SOLR, Sphinx, MySQL FullText and MySQL inverted
index. New engine can be employed without having to
rewrite the core application.
Extensibility: support for implementation of custom plugins
for parsing and transforming media; user authentication; new
value types for ﬁelds (eg. custom web-service lookups);
generation of accession/id numbers; hooks into UI for
additional functionality; ﬁle storage API (planned) to allow
for Fedora support.
Better Public Access in 0.6
Faceted browsing: browse collections with selective ﬁltering.
User-provided content: support for user tagging,
commenting and submission of resources.
Improved time-based media presentation: new Flash-based
media player provides display of time-based cataloguing
during playback and can display synchronized media (eg.
images during an audio interview).
Curated sets: tools for creating ordered, annotated sets of
objects or authority items and presenting these sets as
slideshows, timelines and maps.
Tours: tools for creating location-based “tours” of collections.
All of these features are being developed for existing public access
projects and will be open-sourced by their sponsors.
All software is free to download and use. There is no
commercial aspect to the project.
GNU Public License version 2 (GPLv2): do what you
want with the software. Forever.
Source code is included:
Gives you the freedom and ability to modify the
software to suit your needs.
Software can never orphaned as user community has
the means (source code and legal rights) to ﬁx bugs
and maintain compatibility.
GPLv2 gives you the right to distribute your
modiﬁcations so long as source code is included.
Project began in 2003 by Whirl-i-Gig, with roots in web-
based cataloguing systems developed in the 1990’s.
First users start working in 2005.
February 2007: ﬁrst public release.
November 2008: Name change from OpenCollection to
Today: 25 institutional users (that we know about).
February 2009: First ﬁve sites begin using 0.6 for work.
Include two ﬁlm archives, a “digital memory” project, a
catalogue raisonné and an archive documenting the
physical remains of the World Trade Center in NY.
Summer 2009: First public release of 0.6
Royal Museum for Central Africa, Brussels
Deutsche Kinemathek, Berlin
Center for Biodiversity Conservation, American
Museum of Natural History, New York
Northeast Historic Film, Buckport, ME.
The Parrish Art Museum, Southampton, NY
The Frick Collection, New York
Museum of Jewish Heritage, New York
National Museum of Women Artists,
Hansen’s Snobliz, New Orleans, LA
Types of collections
Architectural design archives
Costumes and clothing
Biodiversity conservation (ﬁeld photographs)
Exhibition asset management
Whirl-i-Gig’s work on CA directly funded by
users - all developed code is contractually
covered by the GPL.
Indirect funding through our related work in
cultural heritage and the natural sciences.
Indirect support from Kulturstiftung des
Bundes, Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung,
IMLS, NEH, NEA, the New York State
Council for the Arts (NYSCA) and New York
City Department of Cultural Affairs through
Develop broad-based international user
Establish CA as a viable platform for the widest
practical range of uses in as many locales as
Develop support infrastructure: net-based
community support as well as local consultants.
Establish productive collaborations with
Questions or comments?
Contact: Seth Kaufman
For more information on CollectiveAccess: