We implemented Archon at the University of Miami (http://proust.library.miami.edu/findingaids/
) about a year and a half ago and have been quite pleased with it. It provides a simple form-based interface for the creation of DACS-compliant finding aids, allows for the automatic publication of these to the web, and facilitates the easy export of records in EAD and MARC format.
I would say that Archon's strength is in providing a low-cost, easily implemented turnkey technical infrastructure for archives. With its collection record forms, it allows staff to focus on crafting good finding aids rather than worrying about the slings and arrows of well-formed XML. The search and retrieval piece is there, but is fairly basic and is not the main focus of the system. The search function, for example, conducts full-text search across certain indexed fields. It does not allow you to limit your search by field, although you can browse by certain categories.
While Archon provides a simple, easily-implementable technical framework for authoring and publishing finding aids to the web, it is not for everyone. It was a good choice for us because we were not yet EAD implementors when we adopted it. Archon is built around the concept of DACS-compliant collection records, and EAD is one of its export formats; however, EAD is not the native format of Archon finding aid records.
Archon stores its records in a database which does not currently support the round-tripping of EAD records, and we have found that using Archon's EAD import script (which can be tweaked and improved) to bring EAD finding aids into Archon often results in the loss of data and the subsequent need for revision of finding aid records in the Archon system. Other institutions in Florida who have been implementing EAD for years have been reluctant to adopt Archon for this very reason, despite the advantages of its interface and the ability the system affords to easily publish newly created or altered finding aids to the web.
My concern in browsing your NWDA is that if you switched to Archon you would lose some of the search capabilities your current system has. If you are seriously considering Archon as a search and retrieval system, I would also recommend that you import a sample of your own EAD records into a test instance of Archon to see how well they import into the system's native database.
I hope this helps,
On Thu, Jun 10, 2010 at 5:54 PM, Jodi Allison-Bunnell <[log in to unmask]>
The consortium program that I manage, Northwest Digital Archives, is considering a change in its search and retrieval software as part of a revision to our technical infrastructure. I have gathered some information on what other consortia use and would like to hear from other EAD implementors.
If you use one of the systems below, or something else, it would be most helpful if you could share your experience with the system. This could include price (if commercial), ease of set-up and maintenance, existence of user groups (particularly within the library-archives world), end user feedback, and anything else that you could share with me and/or the list.
Here are the systems I have identified so far:
Mark Logic XML database
Thanks in advance for any information that you can share.
Program Manager, Northwest Digital Archives
Orbis Cascade Alliance
Missoula, MT 59801
fax (860) 540-8281
Digital Projects Librarian
University of Miami Libraries
Otto G. Richter Library
1300 Memorial Drive
Coral Gables, FL 33146