CollectiveAccess or Something Better?
January 10, 2013 2:50 PM   Subscribe

I want some kind of collections database and need your help finding one that suits my needs!

As part and parcel of the side pastime of mine of running a history blog, I acquire items that range from postcards to hotel keys. I don't have the best memory, so my desire is to have an online database in which I can catalog my collection and call upon anywhere and anytime I have such a desire. I would like the ability to select a category such as Images, and then search that category by subject matter.

An example of such a program would be CollectiveAccess. I had previously tried installing this (or something similar!) on the same server through which I host my website on without much success. I very much would like something designed for this type of purpose in mind, but would consider alternatives if they would meet my expectations.

I do have a Flickr Pro account, but right now feel that using it would be a little more clumsy than I would desire. I would prefer something open sourced or free. If a website/service exists online which would save me the trouble of trying to set something up that would be great. Is CollectiveAccess the best choice? Do I need to knuckle down and try to get it working again? Anything like it that I might try in the alternative?

Thank you for your help!
posted by Atreides to Computers & Internet (7 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Take a look at Omeka.
posted by gyusan at 3:35 PM on January 10, 2013

Yep! Here's Omeka's showcase of sites built on the framework.
posted by zepheria at 3:38 PM on January 10, 2013

Last year I went through the process of evaluating CollectiveAccess for a work project. The system definitely has a lot of capabilities and potential to it, but its capability means for a lot of complexity and customization could prove to be a bear.

As above, have a good look at Omeka. It's much less complex than CollectiveAccess, and is designed to fall in a sweet spot between content management systems, institutional repository software, and collection management tools. The phrase they use is "Wordpress for your exhibits and collections".
posted by Numenius at 3:41 PM on January 10, 2013

Previously (by me, just over three years ago.)

After reviewing each option, I ended up setting up Omeka for the non-profit I used to work for, and it was the perfect level of ease-of-use for the relatively simple cataloging needs they had. I recall there being a one or two minor server complexities, but nothing mind-blowingly complicated, and they're probably ancient history now.
posted by Magnakai at 4:08 PM on January 10, 2013

That's a pretty overwhelming response for Omeka. I've glanced it over and am definitely open to trying it out, especially as I see it's a "one click" install with Dreamhost, who I use for my site. Thank you all for the quick and completely agreed upon answer. I'll tune back in with my experience with it once I give it a go.
posted by Atreides at 6:31 PM on January 10, 2013

Was gonna say Omeka. Good luck!
posted by Miko at 7:28 PM on January 10, 2013

Best answers for all, since y'all had the same answer!

While the installation took me a little longer than it should have (had an issue with using the FTP correctly to update a file), it was still relatively pain free and easily took about 5% of the time I burned trying to get CollectiveAccess to work the last time.

On Dreamhost, it is a 1-click installation...BUT, you do have to access the db.ini file to modify it to finish the installation process. So as someone on an Omeka help forum explained, it's really more of a 2-click installation, so to speak.

After playing with the program, noting how it has the option to keep things private or public specifically, it's organizing abilities and what not, I think it should work just grand for my purposes.

Thank you again for what so far appears to be the perfect answer!
posted by Atreides at 11:54 AM on January 11, 2013

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