Going public with the rich holdings of Independence Seaport Museum – a Case Study

SeaportThe director of  the archives for this prestigious maritime museum describes her experience of streamlining the fractured and arduous administrative procedures in her institution within a few short months after taking the job. Her rich holdings are now online for public viewing.

Case Study by:
Terry L. Potter
Director of  the J. Welles Henderson Archives & Library
Independence Seaport Museum
I am writing to express how very pleased I am with the Eloquent Archives software. We are small archive with minimal staff and a very rich collection.   It is difficult to know where to begin in addressing the many marvelous ways Eloquent Archives has served us, so I will endeavor to bring them together under 3 main headings: administrative, ease of use, and public access.
When I accepted the post as Director of the J. Welles Henderson Archives & Library there was much to be done.  The Archives was still running all of its administrative practices manually so Seaport 2the process was fractured and arduous.  Eloquent Archives has provided a strong, user friendly platform that has allowed me to begin bringing accessions, de-accessions, processing, arranging, describing, digitising, and records stewardship together in one system that is streamlined and efficient.  I can’t say enough about how much more actual work is
getting accomplished with the tag and take feature as well as the drop down menu functions. Together they make entry quick and, with the auto populate feature, have greatly increased our ability to get collections entered.  As the Director, I am particularly fond of its ability to ‘fill in’ letters and pull together reports in fast order.  The letter and report forms are customizable and present well, leaving me free to focus on higher priority administrative functions.  Holistically, I can’t say enough about how pleased I am with the way Eloquent Archives functions as an administrative tool.

Second only to performance of the task, is how easy the system is to use.  I began using Eloquent Archives in January of 2016, and though I still have much to learn and many more collections to add, I have been very impressed how intuitive the system is.  Even in areas such as digital files, which can be confusing by type, size, and resolution, the layout on the entry pages walks the input person through confidently.  The ‘hints’ behind the question marks are a bonus that has allowed me to have interns enter descriptive material with very few questions during the 

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process.  Several of them have expressed how user friendly Eloquent Archives is and how much they appreciated the experience of working with archive software.  This is a wonderful attribute because it allows us to give interns greater exposure, a richer experience, and we can put their name on a collection so they can use it as an example of work they have done in job interviews. 
Similarly, I have 2 independent Processing Archivists with extensive experience working on larger collections at the moment.  They are both very familiar with other archival software and both have been very impressed with the ease and function of Eloquent Archives.  When I was looking at different archival software packages ease in use was one of my biggest requirements.  I manage so many areas and I really needed a system that interns and independents could use without placing a large demand on my time.  Eloquent Archives proves to me daily that I made the correct decision.

To have all of the above in one archival system seems too good to be true… but there is more!
We are opening our web catalog online October 6, 2016 with a great deal of excitement.  In today’s Internet world, accessibility to records is everything.  The online catalog feature of Eloquent Archives is fabulous.  The image capability makes it visually appealing, it is easy to maneuver, and allows us the ability to get our records into the hands of those who really want to use them.  An archive that can’t reach the public is merely a records storage facility.  The catalog feature gives us capabilities that we did not have before and does so simply by harnessing standard archival procedures.  Prior to Eloquent, we had finding aids on our website, but no power to connect our rSeaport 1ecords to each other through authorities and broaden their impact.  Nor could we attach images beyond a minimal degree.  The catalog feature presents our records in an engaging and sophisticated manner and is available through all Internet devices, including mobile.  There is little else I could ask for.
I would be remiss if I did not comment on the Eloquent staff and website.  I have often used the teaching aids on your site and found them helpful.  In fact, It is very handy to print the ones I need and keep them close.  Most of all, the staff support I have received from Stan and Lawrence has been invaluable.  They have made the implementation of the Eloquent Archive system seamless and a pleasure.  Anytime, and every time, I find myself with a question they are there.  At one point I had a problem with accessions – my own error – and Stan was not only patient but worked with me to straighten out the details in a way that did not make me feel badly.  Moreover, he found a way to accomplish our needs administratively with little effort.  I am very pleased with technical support I receive and impressed with the Eloquent staff’s attendance to the individual needs of their clients.

In closing, and simply, we are very happy with our purchase of the Eloquent Archives system and look forward to growing into additional modules as we advance here at the J. Welles Henderson Archives & Library.

Terry L. Potter
Director of The J. Welles Henderson Archives & Library
Independence Seaport Museum

Links to Database & Websites
You can search the Seaport Archives with your smart phone as well as with any Internet browser. From there you can explore their holdings as well as browse their website. Learn more about the Eloquent Archives™ software on Eloquent’s Website and gain access other client databases under Client List. While there you are invited to register for a webinar or private demo to learn how easy it is to get your digital content online for public access.

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