Category:Users Guide/en

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<languages/> Documentation for end-users: Overview

This section provides guidance for cataloguers and administrators who are using CollectiveAccess to manage their collections. These pages will help you navigate the database, understand and differentiate between types, search and browse, apply settings and preferences, and manage metadata through the user interface. Scroll down to see an alphabetical list of pages in this User's Guide.

Access and Preferences

CollectiveAccess is a web-based system, and as a result can be accessed remotely with a proper login. Each login has a personal dashboard from which to navigate the database, and there are tools, such as the Inspector Window, to assist in tracking your work. To understand your navigational options, please visit: Accessing and Navigating the Database. Once you have accessed the database, you can also determine your Preferences, including languages used in menus, breadcrumb displays, etc.

Project Administrators, who have the power to set access controls, can define logins and privileges for other users. For information about the standard user roles as defined by Collective Access, please see Access Roles. To determine further access control settings, including creation of new logins, see Access Control Settings.

Primary Types and Record Creation

Although it is highly configurable, the essential structure of CollectiveAccess is composed of sixteen Primary Types or Basic Tables. To work effectively with the software, it is important to understand the nuances of these basic types of records. For a quick description of each type, please visit Basic Tables. Bear in mind that not all collections will have all of these types enabled, and some may exhibit variations on these types. However, understanding CollectiveAccess as a combination of these basic components will assist you in your cataloging.

Once you have developed a clear understanding of the Basic Tables, you will be ready to begin creating records. The particulars of record creation will vary from institution to institution, but all records are comprised of a set of common data types, and exhibit a similar User Interface. For guidance on how to begin creating records, see Creating Records.

Each record is comprised of at least a “Basic Info” screen, but many contain more screens according to the needs of the project. For an overview of basic screens in CollectiveAccess, please see Common Screens. For example, one common screen is “Media,” as many records incorporate images or other media. The media upload process is simple, and is explained in the page entitled Uploading Media.


One of the key aspects of CollectiveAccess is its ability to create relationships between records. As you build a record, you will probably want to include important relationships. To accomplish this, choose "Relationships" from the side navigation after you have completed your Basic Info page in any type of record. Common relationships can include: Entity related to a Work, Objects related to an Event or Occurrence, and so on. For an overview of Relationship creation in CollectiveAccess, please see Relationships.

Searching and Browsing

As you populate your database, or after a data import, you will want to search and browse your data. CollectiveAccess provides a number of options to facilitate searching and browsing, with varying levels of complexity. For detailed instructions on how to use these features, please see Searching and Browsing. Please note that the Browse facets detailed here may vary from those configured for your institution, as they can be set-up to reflect the individual needs of your collection.

Displays and Sets

CollectiveAccess also provides tools that allow you to organize, view, and share your data in a clear and elegant fashion. For example, You can create custom displays for search results or record summaries, and then use those results to export tab or comma delimited files. Displays essentially allow you to select exactly which fields from any records you wish to see in a given environment. For more information on creating displays, please visit: Displays.

You can also use CollectiveAccess to create ordered groupings of any record type defined by users for a specific purpose, known as Sets. These are generally organized for temporary, practical purposes and can be shared between users. For more information on creating and using Sets, see Sets.


For end-users with administrative privileges, you may find that you need to understand the metadata-creation workflow. For example, You may need to add new values to a list, or even create an entirely new list for use in your database. To manage Lists and Vocabularies, you will need to navigate to Manage → Lists and Vocabularies in the User Interface. Consult Lists and Vocabularies for more information on managing lists.

In order to incorporate new lists into your cataloging, you will need to append them to metadata elements and then add them to the user interface. See User Interface Administration for help with those steps. The process described in “User Interface Administration” also applies to the creation of any new metadata element. It is important to understand that one does not create new metadata elements within the context of each individual screen; instead, using the administration options explained in the aforementioned pages, one chooses from a pool of metadata elements which can be added to the appropriate screens as needed.

For the pages mentioned above, as well as other useful guidelines, please see below.

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