What Does It Take To Upgrade to a New Collections Management System (CMS)?
The Grand Lodge of the District of Columbia (GLDC) planned to upgrade their collections management system. Unsure of how to take on the task of moving their large amount of data from their existing Alpha 4 database into the new system, they hired HAI to provide professional consultation and assist with the data migration process.
The Free and Accepted Masons’ Grand Lodge of the District of Columbia Free And Accepted Masons is the governing body for the region’s Masonic lodges, and it traces its history back to the early nineteenth century. The Grand Lodge used an Alpha 4 database to maintain metadata on its 5,800 objects, 5,000 library records, and 1,000 archival records.
Due to concerns about software obsolescence and the need for a more-robust Collections Management System, the Grand Lodge reached out to HAI to help select a new CMS and manage the data migration from the legacy database to a new instance of PastPerfect.
“History Associates did an excellent job with the data transfer of our collections data into PastPerfect. Everything looks good, and we truly appreciate your labors!”
– Kevin Stone Fries, M.L.S., Chair, Museum and Library Committee, 2013
To begin, HAI’s collections management team analyzed the Grand Lodge’s existing database. It had been well maintained by a dedicated staff member, but there were inconsistencies in the way data had been entered over the years. The team worked with the Grand Lodge to develop a plan to standardize their data for migration.
HAI’s team then developed a comprehensive data map that would successfully preserve the existing catalog information while also improving the level of standardization in the new system. We created a process for accommodating the migration of additional descriptive information from the legacy database into PastPerfect and pulled out catalog records that would not batch import successfully so they could be reviewed and added separately.
After a test upload of a small data set proved successful, we implemented the full migration plan. For quality control, we reviewed each PastPerfect module to ensure that information was transferred properly. This review confirmed overall system and data integrity, successful mapping, and the efficacy of standardization recommendations.
After implementation and review, HAI provided a PastPerfect system orientation session to the GLDC staff, covering system functionality and providing guidance on new data standardization or structuring developments introduced over the course of the project.
At the conclusion of the two-month project, HAI assisted the GLDC in formatting, mapping, and successfully importing approximately 5,800 object records, 5,000 library records, and 1,000 archival records from the old Alpha 4 system into PastPerfect.