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Moving from an outdated system

Grand Lodge of the District of ColumbiaIn the summer of 2013, the Grand Lodge of the District of Columbia (GLDC) decided it was time to upgrade their collections management system and, with the help of History Associates, selected PastPerfect software. Unsure of how to take on the task of moving their data from their existing Alpha 4 database into the new system, they hired History Associates to assist.

Museum Professionals with Database Expertise

To begin, the collections management team at History Associates analyzed the 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 GLDC to develop a plan to standardize their data for migration. They decided on a plan that would use the GLDC’s established nomenclature where applicable and use Chenhall’s Nomenclature 3.0 in all remaining instances. They also condensed and simplified the object terms used from 515 to 183.

During the implementation phase, the History Associates team developed a comprehensive data map that would successfully preserve the existing catalog information while also improving the level of standardization in the new system. They 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, History Associates implemented the full migration plan. For quality control, they reviewed each PastPerfect module (objects, library, and archive) 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, History Associates 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, History Associates assisted the GLDC in formatting, mapping, and importing approximately 5,800 object records, 5,000 library records, and 1,000 archival records from the old Alpha 4 system into the new one. “History Associates did an excellent job with the data transfer of our collections data into PastPerfect,” said Kevin Stone Fries, M.L.S., Chair, Museum and Library Committee, 2013. “Everything looks good, and we truly appreciate your labors!”

Get the Most Value from Your Collections

Start today by contacting History Associates! Call us at (301) 279-9697 or submit an online inquiry to discuss your project.

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