Archive of Posts in "Tutorial"

OpenRefine, Access Points, Archivists’ Toolkit, and Chaos -> Order guest post

The contents of this post relate to EAD 2002.

After having read posts on the Chaos –> Order blog and articles concerning the use of OpenRefine to handle metadata stored in Excel and Access files, I found myself asking how this could be done with an Archivists’ Toolkit (MySQL) database. Since the literature was not forthcoming, I did my own experiment, which Maureen graciously offered me the space on the site describe.

How I Introduced Myself to EAD and Archivists’ Toolkit

The contents of this post relate to EAD 2002.

This was actually the topic of a paper I co-wrote for a student session at Fall 2012’s MARAC conference. Ever since then, I’ve been wanting to rewrite it as a simple, linked how-to blog post. Because other people have asked me where to get started and I’d like to show how it’s not actually too hard.

Step 1) Install Archivists’ Toolkit on your computer

I’ve already written up instructions for one way to set up Archivists’ Toolkit with a local database on your computer. You can also install the software and simply connect to the Archivists’ Toolkit sandbox database which they host and run.

Step 2) Find an EAD finding aid and import it into Archivists’ Toolkit

This is where you have it easier than I did. I was part of a group project that directly approached UMD’s manager of digital collections and asked her for an EAD finding aid to work with. You can just use one of the sample EAD finding aids I’m hosting on the site. And if you want some variety, the archivist from Syracuse also shared the location of all their EAD files.

For easiest import, I would suggest using the Miriam Butterworth and Natalie Babbit papers, which don’t make references to any files local to the repository.

If you use another file and get an error regarding not being able to find the EAD 2002 DTD (because the repository had linked to a local version), open the file in an editor and change the link from whatever their URL ending in ead.dtd was to:

Then import. If you then get a import log message that any mandatory field is missing and the record is invalid, just know that it’ll require you to fill those in before you can use the record in Archivists’ Toolkit. In the Berliner family papers, you’ll need to fill in an extent type and number. Just fill in something like 2 linear feet and voila you can view the rest.

I’ll recommend against using the Syracuse ones for this stage, because some local practices which are great for handling a whole system are a problem if you don’t have those files available. However, they’re quite useful on the whole for viewing later on. Just be aware that phrases like &su_name; are short-codes which pull in all the repository’s data so that people don’t have to type it every time.

Step 3) Open the EAD file in an XML-friendly reader

This doesn’t have to be an XML reader, per-se, just something like Notepad ++ (Windows), which highlights the syntax and has a word wrap function (under View in Notepad++) for easier reading. You can also view all but the Helen Lyman papers (which are in a very large file) on EADiva in a syntax-highlighting XML layout.

Step 4) Compare, compare, compare

Look how the record displays in Archivists’ Toolkit. Find the same fields in the EAD file. Look at the structure, where things show up. Look up any questions about elements, what they mean, what their attributes mean, etc, on EADiva. Remember, the syntax here is quite easy: Bam, you’re at the page.

Bonus step

View a finding aid’s display on a repository’s website. Any finding aid. Open Archivists’ Toolkit. Copy data from the finding aid, like title, date, etc. into the fields you think are right for it in Archivists’ Toolkit. See what happens when you export the file.

Post-Post Script

You can also import files into ArchivesSpace’s current beta and see how they look on there too. Or you can try the bonus step using the ArchivesSpace back-end vs. Archivists’ Toolkit, just to stretch your wings. I think it’s a good idea to work with both, since it’ll be a few years before many repositories transfer from AT to AS.

This was my method, except that EADiva didn’t yet exist and I spent my hours instead pouring over questions on the Library of Congress’s EAD tag library. If you taught yourself EAD, how did you do it? Was your method similar?

How to Install Archivists’ Toolkit With a Local XAMPP Database on Your Computer

The contents of this post relate to EAD 2002.

With pictures!

(Disclaimers–this is not for an institutional setting. Also, this is geared toward Windows users. Specifically, I’m installing XAMPP on a Windows 7 machine. I’ve installed it on XP as well and still have an XP installation running at work. There are other ways to install & run AT locally. This is what I do.)

Installing Archivists’ Toolkit on your own computer makes sense for a lot of budding archivists. If we’re not using it at work, our free time may be the best way to build relevant experience. But why not just use the sandbox database which AT has graciously provided?

A few reasons to have the database installed locally:

  1. You want to keep your experiments private or are working with non-public data.
  2. You want to be able to work offline.
  3. You’re trying to create something more permanent and don’t want to risk its deletion by another user.
  4. You’re worried that the sandbox might someday go away.
  5. You can use phpMyAdmin to easily backup the database and move it elsewhere.
  6. You want a little phpMyAdmin experience or are interested in running other things on a local database

Let’s get started.

Step 1: Install XAMPP on your computer

What is XAMPP? It’s a simplified Apache distribution with PHP, MySQL, and Perl. The Windows version includes Apache, MySQL, PHP + PEAR, Perl, mod_php, mod_perl, mod_ssl, OpenSSL, phpMyAdmin, Webalizer, Mercury Mail Transport System for Win32 and NetWare Systems v3.32, Ming, FileZilla FTP Server, mcrypt, eAccelerator, SQLite, and WEB-DAV + mod_auth_mysql, so there’s a lot more you can do with it. For example, I run locally-hosted WordPress sites where I edit themes and such (I hand-wrote the theme for on a local site).

If you don’t know what that means, don’t panic. It’s a small server you can run on your computer. It won’t be hooked up to the internet, so you don’t have to worry about people breaking in and you can use it whether or not you’re online.

Scroll down on the windows download page and select the download option. Since we’re doing this easy-style, select the Installer option below. This will be a .exe file.

The download link will likely take you to SourceForge, which is a legitimate download site. Once you’ve downloaded the installation file, double-click like any program you’ve installed before. You may get a warning that firewall or antivirus will slow down installation. That’s fine, I just chose to keep them on anyway.

During setup, you’ll have an option of what you want to install. I recommend installing everything it offers. At the least you’ll need MySQL and phpMyAdmin (Apache and PHP cannot be unchecked). I chose NOT to learn more about Bitnami, which can help one install WordPress and more on the computer.

XAMPP will then install on your computer. It may take a while.

A picture of XAMPP slowly installing

When XAMPP has finished installing, choose to start the control panel. You will always need the control panel to be running to use Archivists’ Toolkit.

A picture of the completion screen for XAMPP with the option ticked to start the control panel on finishing

In order to set up (or, once installed, turn on) your database, you’ll need to click Start on both Apache and MySQL (arrows below point to the relevant buttons, which currently read Stop, since I’ve already turned it on).

The Apache and MySQL functions have been turned on. They're already displaying Stop which has been turned on

When you do this the first time, you may get the following error message from the Windows firewall.

An image of the windows firewall error you may encounter

That’s fine, allow it to connect.

Step 2: Setting up a Local database for Archivists’ Toolkit

Now, go to http://localhost/phpmyadmin/ in your browser (this link will only work if you’ve already installed and activated XAMPP). You may see a notice that your root user doesn’t have a password setup. As long as you’re just running this locally, it doesn’t matter. You probably don’t need to upgrade phpMyAdmin, if it’s a slightly older version.

Click the Databases tab at the top and use the create database box to create your database as below. I’m calling mine “atdatabase.” I simply selected “Collation” as the type.

An image of the database creation screen. atdatabase is entered in the Create Database field and Collation is selected

Under the Users tab, create a new user. I chose to create one simply called atuser with the password eadiva. I clicked the Check All option to give atuser access to all the databases (this is a bit of a short-cut, but for the purposes of running AT it works just fine). Click “Go” at the bottom right corner to create the user.

An image of creating a new user and assigning it privileges

After the database and user have been created, we’ll switch over to installing Archivists’ Toolkit itself. Leave the XAMPP control panel open and on.

Step 3: Install Archivists’ Toolkit and Initialize the Database

Download the most recent update of release 2.0 and execute the installation file.

An image of the Archivists Toolkit installer

Walk through the basic installation steps.

Then open C:/Program Files (x86)/Archivists Toolkit 2.0 (or wherever your program files are stored). Execute Maintenance Program 2.0.exe.

An image of the Maintenance Program file within the Archivists Toolkit folder

Select “Initialize a blank database.”

Initialize a blank database is checked

Enter the location of your database, the username and password, and the type.

An image of the various login information written below entered into the appropriate field

The information entered in the image above is:


Your database location should begin with jdbc:mysql://localhost/ and be followed by the name of your database.

The next screen will prompt you to enter a repository name:

an image of the repository name fields, both for a long and formal repository title and a short form

Call it whatever you like, but be aware that it’ll require work to change later. The next screen prompts you to enter a username and password. Enter something you’ll remember or *gasp* write it down (I would never advocate for this for a real repository or an important password, but this is just a local installation of AT). I use my initials for both.

Then click Finish at let the software initialize your database. This will create the tables that AT needs to function. It may take a little while. During all of this, you’ll need to have had your XAMPP turned on or else the database can’t initialize.

Step 4: Set up Archivists’ Toolkit

When done initializing, open the newly-installed Archivists’ Toolkit.

It will require you to enter the database login information. As before, for mine, it’s:


and click Save.

Connection settings image for the database

It will then prompt you for the username and password you created during initialization (the ones for which I used my initials).

Once in, you can start using Archivists’ Toolkit. Your initial password will give you superuser (fullest) access to the software. You may Setup -> Users to create users with a variety of privileges and test out what you can and can’t do.

How to use AT once you’ve installed a local copy is a whole ‘nother tutorial series.

Step 6: How to start Archivists’ Toolkit next time

When you finish with AT the first time, simply exit out and close XAMPP. You will have to open XAMPP and press the Quit button in order to close it.

In order to restart AT, you’ll need to start XAMPP first. Simply open it from your Programs list or wherever you’ve put a shortcut. Turn on Apache and MySQL again just as you did before.

When restarting XAMPP, be sure to turn on both Apache and MySQL

Now you can open AT. This time it will automatically access the database and simply prompt you for your login.

Should you wish to create and initialize multiple databases or to access both the sandbox AND your local database from your AT installation, you’ll have the option to “Select Server” when logging in, which lets you change the server you’ll be logging into.

I’ve tried to make this tutorial thorough and heavily-illustrated, since once you have AT running it doesn’t take nearly as much technical savvy to use. Please comment below or contact me if you have any questions and I’ll do my best to answer and clarify the tutorial.