Primary Types

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To work effectively with the software it is critical that you understand the fundamental components of a CollectiveAccess database. While CollectiveAccess provides great flexibility in terms of the specifics of your data model – you define your own fields, relationships and constraints – the general structure is fixed. CollectiveAccess defines fourteen types of records that model the world that your collection exists in. These are referred to as Primary Types:

Objects (ca_objects) 
Assets within a collection. Typically these are the physical, digitized, or born-digital items you are managing.
Entities (ca_entities) 
People or organizations. These are the creators, artists, donors, publishers and others involved in some way with your collection. Once an Entity is created in CollectiveAccess, it can be linked to other records within the database.
Places (ca_places) 
Physical locations, geographic or otherwise. Places are inherently hierarchical allowing you to nest more specific Place records within broader ones. As with Entities, once a Place is created it can be referred to throughout the system.
Occurrences (ca_occurrences) 
Events or “things.” An Occurrence is a catch-all term used by CollectiveAccess to refer to contextual items that may require complex cataloguing but are not Entities, Places, Collections or Storage Locations. You can use Occurrences to support structured authorities for virtually any kind of item. Typically, Occurrences are used to support entries for historical events, exhibitions, film productions and bibliographies.
Collections (ca_collections) 
A defined group of objects. Collections can represent physical collections, symbolic collections of items associated by some criteria, or any other arbitrary grouping. Collections can handle complex cataloging, and therefore can be used for everything from simple grouping of objects to containers for collection-level finding aids. Collections should be used for long-term associations of objects in your institution. For temporary or administrative groupings of objects, see Sets.
Lots (ca_object_lots) 
Lots usually record basic intake information (donor, date of receipt, etc.) for a donation or acquisition, prior to Object-level cataloguing.
Sets (ca_sets) 
An ordered grouping of Objects defined by users for a specific purpose. Unlike Collections, Sets are ad-hoc groups of records created by a user for a practical purpose (e.g., a working checklist for an upcoming exhibition, or a set of Entities for which biographical information is needed). They are typically temporary groupings and thus not meant for collection-level cataloguing.
Set Items (ca_set_items) 
A record assigned to a Set. Records in a Set can take additional cataloguing, allowing one to contextualize and annotate records within an assigned Set. This enables the construction of Sets where each record contains Set-specific captions and links. This makes Sets and Set Items a great tool for constructing slideshows and tours based on your collection records.
Representations (ca_object_representations) 
Media (images, video, audio, PDFs) that documents an Object. While Representations often consist of just the media itself, they can take additional cataloguing that is specific to that media. This allows the addition of captions, credits, access information, rights and reproduction restrictions or any other type of information on a Representation-specific basis, if needed.
Storage Locations (ca_storage_locations) 
Physical locations where Objects are stored. Like Places, Storage Locations are hierarchical – you can nest Locations to allow notation at any level of specificity (building, room, cabinet, drawer). Each Storage Location can take arbitrarily complex cataloguing, including access restrictions, map coordinates and other information. Storage Locations can be linked to both Objects and Lots, either directly, or through Object Events or Lot Events.
Loans (ca_loans) 
Tracks loans related to Objects. Loans can be defined by types and are set as loans-in and loans-out by default. Any kind of loan can be configured and recorded by assigning the appropriate metadata elements for each type.
Movements (ca_movements) 
Tracks movements related to Objects (e.g., temporary locations, removals, etc). Movements can be configured with movement types and recorded by assigning the appropriate metadata elements for each type.
Lists (ca_lists) 
A simple or hierarchical group of List Items. Lists are used throughout CollectiveAccess in the following contexts: (1) as drop-down lists constraining the values of a field; (2) as controlled vocabularies whose List Items can be associated with Objects, Entities, Places, etc.; and (3) as system lists whose List Item values customize CollectiveAccess for application-level uses. All Lists must be assigned a unique List name, which is used internally to identify your List.
List Items (ca_list_items) 
The entries that comprise a List. All List Items have an intrinsic value and an identifier, as well as one or more text labels used for display.


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