Migrating the UAMN Cultural Collections Information into Arctos
With the help of a $149,999 grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Serivices (IMLS), the departments of Ethnology & History and Archaeology have completed the move of our collections data from an outdated, in-house database (4D), to Arctos, a fully-online, multi-disciplinary collection management information system developed and operated by UAMN and currently used by six of the other eight departments at the Museum. The project was completed by October 1, 2015.
Arctos is both a community and a comprehensive collection management information system. As a community, it is a collaboration among multiple scientific collections that serves data on over 3M natural history museum records. Arctos users contribute to data standards, application enhancements, and improved data quality through sharing of authorities for taxonomy, geography, people names, part types, and other data.
Through this project we feel certain that our audience members will become more personally engaged with the cultural holdings at UAMN and feel more invested in the preservation and perpetuation of Alaska’s cultural heritage. Professional users of the collections data will feel more empowered by the ability to undertake searches on their own, and be assured that their research questions are being adequately represented through those queries. UAMN collections staff will be able to focus their time and energy on caring for the collections and documenting each object in a more robust and sophisticated way, creating richly textured catalog records that are of use to many different audiences and properly represent the past and present uses of each object. Lastly, the Arctos Steering Committee hopes this project sets a precedent for other humanities-based collections to move their data into Arctos as well.
The Museum is always seeking volunteers to serve as test users to evaluate the accessibility of the collections data. Current and past UAMN student employees, current Alaska museum professionals, Alaskan anthropologists, archaeologists, historians, and Alaska Native community members are sought to provide their input regarding the new system. Anyone interested in serving as a test user should contact department staff.