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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 sixteen types of records that model the world that your collection exists in. These are referred to as Primary Types or Basic Tables:
- 1 Lots (ca_object_lots)
- 2 Objects (ca_objects)
- 3 Entities (ca_entities)
- 4 Collections (ca_collections)
- 5 Occurrences (ca_occurrences)
- 6 Loans (ca_loans)
- 7 Places (ca_places)
- 8 Movements (ca_movements)
- 9 Object Events (ca_object_events)
- 10 Lot Events (ca_object_lot_events)
- 11 Sets (ca_sets)
- 12 Set Items (ca_set_items)
- 13 Representations (ca_object_representations)
- 14 Storage Locations (ca_storage_locations)
- 15 Lists (ca_lists)
- 16 List Items (ca_list_items)
Lots represent an accession or acquisition of one or more assets. The details and terms of a gift, purchase, loan, long-term loan, or bequest are recorded here. Registration information can include a Lot Identifier, Description, Accession Status, and Extent, as well as any other pertinent relationship information.
Object records represent the assets of a collection, typically the physical or born-digital items you are managing. Objects can refer to documents (such as correspondence, production records, ephemera, etc.), born-digital and other media (audio, photographs, video), artifacts, and artwork.
Entity records represent the authority for specific people or organizations. These can be creators, artists, donors, publishers, performers, or a person or group involved in some way with your collection.
Collections contain a defined group of objects. Collections can represent physical collections, symbolic collections of items associated by some criteria, or any other arbitrary grouping.
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.
Loans are used to track objects that are on loan to or from other institutions. Navigating to New > Loan in or out will allow you to create a new loan, entering in contact information and other important details. Objects are attached to loans in the same manner as collections, events and entities.
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.
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.
Object Events (ca_object_events)
An event in the life-cycle of an Object. Each Object Event includes a planned date as well and the actual date of occurrence. Different types of Object Events (e.g., conservation events, movement events, loan events) can be recorded by defining Object Event types and assigning appropriate metadata elements for each type.
Lot Events (ca_object_lot_events)
An event in the life-cycle of a Lot. Each Lot Event includes a planned date as well and the actual date of occurrence. Different types of Lot Events (e.g., acquisition events, deaccession events) can be recorded by defining Lot Event types and assigning appropriate metadata elements for each type.
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.
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.
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.