CollectiveAccess - Profile


This profile was completed by the software vendor at CHIN’s request and does not reflect the views or opinions of CHIN. It is presented for information only and does not indicate approval or accreditation by CHIN. Inclusion of specific products does not mean that CHIN recommends the software, but that members of the community expressed interest in learning about these products.

This information was accurate as of January 2018. For more information or to request updated information, please contact the vendor directly.

Product name


Vendor name


Vendor overview

Website URL

Head office

Year founded: 1995
Telephone number: +1 (347) 678 0513
Contact person: Seth Kaufman, President

Canadian/North American office

Year founded: 1995
Telephone number: +1 (347) 678 0513
Contact person: Julia Weist, Senior Consultant

Product overview

Product description

CollectiveAccess is open-source collections management and presentation software designed for museums, archives, and special collections. As it is highly flexible and easily customized, it is also increasingly used by libraries, non-profits, private collectors, artist studios, performing arts organizations and other groups around the world. At its core, CollectiveAccess is a relational database that enables complex cataloging, powerful searching and browsing and nuanced web-based collection discovery.

Disciplines supported

CollectiveAccess is a good fit for many museums, archives, arts organizations, scientific research projects, libraries, non-profits, academic environments, private collectors, artist studios, performing arts organizations and more.

Product launch date


Product history

CollectiveAccess was developed to meet a growing demand for a highly customizable collections management tool for specialized and complex collections. From its earliest development, the project’s founders sought to accommodate the need for support of both established archival and library standards, and the inevitable idiosyncrasies of real-world institutional needs. For ten years, the CollectiveAccess team has worked one-on-one with organizations around the world to create specialized metadata schemas and workflows for collections ranging from paleontological specimens, fine art, local history and diverse multimedia.

Future development

Development is ongoing. We issue a major release approximately every 6 months, with minor and maintenance releases every few weeks.

Demo version

A demo is available.


Support methods

Free support is available via our Forum

Support chat


We also offer paid support blocks. Please contact us for more information.

Support language(s)

English, French and Spanish.

Support availability and hours

Monday – Friday (excluding all US Federal holidays) from 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. EST.

Support fees

Ongoing and ad hoc support is available. Please contact us for rates.

Client support network

The support forum and chat is active with not only developers of CollectiveAccess but also users speaking directly to each other. There are also several user groups in the US and abroad, such as: Collective Access Community.


In person and remote training is available. Please contact us for rates.

System updates and maintenance

Maintenance updates are released every few weeks.



CollectiveAccess is open source, meaning it’s free to use and share. There are no licensing or subscription fees and unlimited users.

Maintenance costs

All software versions and updates are free. If users need help updating their system they can utilize the support forum or paid dedicated support.

Additional fees

Whirl-i-gig works directly with clients on project collaborations. Pricing for these custom implementation is dependent on system specs and requirements. Feel free to contact for more information.

System specifications

Operating systems supported

Linux, Mac OS X 10.7+. Windows (Server 2008, Server 2012, Windows XP and Windows 7, 8 and 10 verified to work) is supported but discouraged. Operating system specific notes are available on our wiki.

Underlying database



Runs on a web environment, though can be run on an internal network or single machine - internet connectivity is not required.

Hardware requirements

1 GB of RAM is usually adequate, up to 4 GB of RAM if processing large media files. Data storage requirements are commensurate with the media being uploaded to the system. Any modern CPU should provide adequate performance. It is advisable to obtain at least a 2-way and, if possible, 4-way machine. The extra processor cores are usually not an expensive add-on and often prove valuable in production environments. More detailed recommendations are available on our wiki.

Staff requirements


Plug-ins and/or modules available

Please see our wiki for more information.

Third-party requirements

All software dependencies are open source. There are no closed-source third-party products required.


The software supports exports to many third-party products (such as Microsoft Word and Excel) but these are not required and other export formats are available.


Project elements, such as front-end implementations, can be customized to be WCAG accessible.


All metadata, search and browse functionality, reporting tools, import and export formats are customizable to the user’s specification.

Web integration capabilities

Cloud functionality

Server location
The software can be installed on a server selected and configured by the user.
Security protocols
Depends on the server solution chosen by the user.
Typical or average uptime
Depends on the server solution chosen by the user.
Back-end maintenance procedures and downtime
Depends on the server solution chosen by the user.

Browsers supported

All modern browsers are supported.

Web-based access for data entry

CollectiveAccess is accessible anywhere with an internet connection.

Web publishing platform

Providence, the cataloguing component, and Pawtucket, the public collection browsing component, are both accessible via the web.

Linked open data functionality

CollectiveAccess integrates with a variety of linked open data repositories including but not limited to the Getty vocabularies, the Library of Congress Authorities, Google mapping, Geonames and more. There is also a framework for configuring new linked open data interoperabilities.

User groups and security

User profiles


User groups


Visitor profiles



The software is installed on one server and can be accessed from as many computers as is required, assuming the server is adequately provisioned.

Audit trails and/or edit history

Available through detailed Logs.

Offline access

Possible, depending on the project’s configuration.

Privacy features

Access Controls allows you to configure exactly who sees your data when cataloguing in Providence. User Groups allow you to create classes of users and define what tasks they are allowed to carry out (such as creating or deleting records), what types of records they are allowed to view or edit, and what fields they can access. Every feature of the software can be turned on or off on a per-user or per-group basis if needed. This allows you to create task-specific environments for researchers or interns, without risking any unwanted changes to your collection data. If using the public facing component, Pawtucket, records can always been hidden from public view if needed, by using the “public access” dropdown field.

Data migration and stability

Import formats

  • XLSX
  • XLS
  • MySQL
  • Filemaker XML
  • Inmagic XML
  • PastPerfect XML
  • Vernon XML
  • PBCore XML
  • RDF
  • ULAN-linked data
  • MARC
  • MODS
  • Omeka
  • EXIF
  • CollectiveAccess (for migrations from one system to another)
  • WorldCat
  • TabDelimited
  • MediaBin
  • CSV Delimited

Export formats

  • XML
  • CSV
  • XLSX
  • Word (DOCX)
  • PDF
  • MySQL


  • MySQL

Standards and schemas

Metadata schemas

  • XML

Data content standards (cataloguing rules)

Content standards are customizable. Providence comes preinstalled with metadata standards including Dublin Core, Darwin Core, EBU Core, PBCore, CDWA-Lite/CCO, EAD, DACS, ISAD(G), VRA Core, and Spectrum. These can be modified to the user’s specifications, or entirely custom metadata schemas can be authored using our XML syntax.

Vocabulary standards

The Getty vocabularies, Library of Congress Subject Authorities, Chenhall, and many more.

Local terminology lists

Custom vocabularies can be developed on a per-project basis as needed.


The software supports a wide range of metadata protocols that are accredited by international organizations. Please see our wiki for more information.

Data entry and content

Media upload/linking

After you have uploaded your desired media to Providence, an exact copy is stored in the media folder. Additionally, a series of lower-res derivatives are created for use within the system and for public presentation, if applicable. Additional derivatives can be created to the project’s specification with some simple configuration. Media can be watermarked with the institution’s logo during this process, if desired.

Media formats supported

Any file can be uploaded to Providence and stored. In-browser preview is available for:

  • JPG
  • GIF
  • TIFF
  • PNG
  • TilePic
  • Camera RAW
  • Photoshop PSD
  • JPEG-2000
  • DPX
  • Open EXR
  • QTVR
  • Adobe DNG
  • MP3
  • AIFF
  • WAV
  • AAC
  • Ogg Vorbis
  • MPEG-2
  • MPEG-4
  • QuickTime
  • Windows Media
  • FLV
  • Ogg Theora
  • AVI
  • PDF
  • Microsoft Word
  • Microsoft PowerPoint
  • Microsoft Excel
  • ED
  • STL
  • PLY

Some specialized format may require additional software components, please check the wiki for details.

Data entry features

Copy and paste
Available with any modern web browser.
Search and replace
Available with the CollectiveAccess Batch Editor tool.
Available with most modern web browsers.
Bulk cataloguing
Batch edit
Batch location change
Duplicate record search
Not currently supported with a graphical user interface.
Template record
Record templates can be created and configured per user or across teams.
Date selection and formats
Please see our wiki for more info:
Mandatory fields
No response.

Spreadsheet editing view


Geographic mapping


Multilingual fields

Supported, as well as multi-lingual cataloguing.





Search and reporting

Types of search supported
No response.
Boolean queries
Query any field
Sort query results
Saving search results
Filter search results
SQL-based search
MySQL search is supported.
Export search results
Free-text (Google) searches
Search result views
Multiple, customizable views supported.

Multilingual searching


Report styles included

Standard reports are pre-installed, which can be customized on a per-project basis.

Report customization


Report program

Search results are exportable as Word, Excel (tab delimited or CSV), and PDF.

Museum functions

Collections management function overview

No response.


Registration work flows can be customized to the institution. A wide array of registrarial tools are available including Location tracking, condition reporting, loan tools and more.


The “Object Lots” module allows for the in-depth cataloguing of all collection acquisitions. Metadata and workflow is customizable on a per-project basis.

Inventory management

Multiple approaches to Loan management, storage location tracking and conservation events are available and customizable on a per-project basis.

Internal tracking

The “Object Location” tool is fully customizable and provides a quick summary of an object’s institutional lifetime from acquisition, exhibition, loan, conservation, storage and deaccession.

External shipments

The “Storage Location” module allows for the in-depth cataloguing of all object movements. Metadata and workflow is customizable on a per-project basis.


Fully customizable interfaces are available for cataloguing all aspects of collections management, including objects, entities, places, loans, storage locations, acquisitions, object movement, vocabularies and other authorities such as historical events.


The “Object Movement” module allows for the in-depth cataloguing of all object conservation events. Metadata and workflow is customizable on a per-project basis.

Curatorial research

Interfaces can be customized to include provenance and bibliographic information, as well as any other needed metadata.

Publications and printed material

Supported either as part of normal object-based cataloguing or with the creation of custom authorities. Publication information can be imported with use of the WorldCat tool, for institutions who have a paid membership to the WorldCat service.

Rights management and reproduction

Interfaces can be customized to include any needed metadata related to rights management.

Risk management and valuation

Interfaces can be customized to include any needed metadata related to insurance and financial information.


The “Occurrences” module can be used to catalogue exhibitions, events or other historical moments of interest. Metadata and workflow is customizable on a per-project basis.

Loan management

The “Loans” module allows for the in-depth cataloguing of all object movements. Metadata and workflow is customizable on a per-project basis.


The “Object Lots” module allows for the in-depth cataloguing of all collection deaccessions. Metadata and workflow is customizable on a per-project basis.

Digital asset management

Providence can be used to store and catalogue any digital assets that are of interest to your collection.

Additional features and functions

Library circulation tool
The library module allows you to keep track of your library assets with customizable loan periods and email alerts if your items become overdue. Quickly see who has your circulating materials and when you can expect them back!
The “Sets” module allows users to create ad-hoc groupings of records for conducting practical tasks, such as creating a checklist of potential images for publication, or a group of records needing further cataloguing. Sets of records can also be sent to the batch editor for quick metadata cleanup.
The Wikipedia tool allows you link a record to its corresponding Wikipedia entry. Once linked, Providence is able to ingest the entry title, main image and introductory text if needed.
Finding aids
Collections with traditional archival metadata structures can automatically create archival Finding Aids using the reporting tool. Customizable displays allow you to detail all of the relevant metadata and folder structures your users may need.
Search results can be displayed as a map, if geo-referencing data is available, or as timelines if date information has been catalogued. More visualizations are coming soon.
Each user has a customizable dashboard that allows them to quickly reference “watched” records, see which records were recently created, reference their last saved searches, as well as other useful tools.
With the LOLKatz widget, cute kitties appear on your dashboard every day!
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