Recollect Community Innovation

Prior to the ALIA Information Online Conference in Sydney last month, a group of our Australian Recollect Administrators met to discuss all things Recollect and hear from some of our customers on how they are using Recollect to allow their communities to access, discover and engage their collections.
These forums have proven to be a great way for the Recollect Community to build networks between members of the community and share ideas and projects that have been made possible with Recollect sites.

“It was really good to meet other users and learn how they are using Recollect. The forum also reinforced the commitment of Recollect to continuous improvement and I could see how developments from other sites (such as Uni Sydney) will benefit us.” Michael Smith, City of Sydney.

The day began with an overview from our General Manager, Gavin Mitchell, who discussed the recent growth we have experienced and the future of the Recollect product. There are some exciting times ahead for our team of passionate innovators and developers.Following Gavin’s update our Recollect Administrators took to the floor with some inspirational projects and uses of Recollect. They have kindly allowed us to share their projects with all of you, we think they are fantastic!

City of Sydney Archives - CAMPAS- User Centred Design

Presented by Michael Smith and Janet Villata

The City of Sydney Archives is currently implementing Recollect.
Their Collection dates from 1842 with the City Archives team established in 1976. The Collection includes 12,000 shelf metres of archives as well as digital records. The City Archives is also a collecting archive with high public interest in the collection.
The City Archives has an active volunteer program that has been running for 20 years with volunteers providing item level descriptive metadata. They also have a well-funded programme for digitising high value records. Their Recollect site will enable access to their Collection, including allowing users to access and download digital objects when they exist.

Michael Smith explained that currently the City Archives are “fairly impenetrable for users”. The City of Sydney website has 18 links from their home page with 16 options for searching the collection. The many systems that make up the archive all have different interfaces. This makes it incredibly hard for “newbies” to navigate and search.When preparing for a new system, thought went into identifying user needs and understanding how they would like to search the collection. Michael indicated that archivists tend to assume "We know who our users are and what they want" when in fact it is more a case of “we know who some of our users are and some of what they want".

A key finding from their investigations was that 80% of users wanted address and location specific archives so giving them the ability to search by location is a priority. When choosing a new archives management platform, they were looking for a system with the ability for users to engage with the Collection and easily access what they need. Michael said,When we hear a system is 'designed by archivists, for archivists' we shudder, as most users don't want that!”   
During the implementation process for Recollect, the Discovery Workshops identified key information that will allow the site to be configured to suit the City’s Collection and how their diverse users want to access the Collection. The Recollect Persona and User Experience Workshops were used to explore user requirements and make key decisions about configuring templates and search widgets. The Recollect Data Workshop focused on data migration and the metadata needed to ensure their archives are consistently searchable when uploaded into Recollect.
The City Archives are looking forward to future opportunities to extend the use of Recollect through:

  • Location Based User Experiences - a person walking down the street can look at the Recollect site and be shown items from where they are standing using their geo coordinates.
  • Photos with richer metadata - record lat/long of where the photographer was standing, the direction they were facing and the coordinates of buildings in the images – this is starting to be worked on.
  • Increasing Volunteer Activity - managing a larger team of volunteers working online, with some working remotely, to improve item level metadata.

The City Archives Recollect site is due to launch later in 2019.

University of Newcastle, IT Services (UON ITS) - Innovation Team

Deep Time - Virtual Reality Archaeology Visualisation

Presented by Gaute Rasmussen

The Recollect platform has been used to facilitate the fascinating Virtual Reality project by UON ITS Innovation Team, Deep Time, Archaeology Visualisation.Gaute describes how their team get to “play with and develop some pretty awesome technology to enrich teaching and learning”.
After an archaeological excavation was done in Newcastle, and over 5000 artefacts were uncovered, the UON ITS Innovation Team came in to see how they “could do something cool”.
Their first idea was a VR replicated dig where people were interested in discovering the original context of the items. As excavation destroys the context of the artefacts, this VR technology will allow researchers to visually understand how the artefacts spatially relate to one another.
Each item found within the site was 3D scanned and had recorded metadata of its discovered location ingested into Recollect. 3D files were uploaded to Recollect as an object file and texture file. This is where Recollect acted as the repository, as well as a place to look at a 3D object.
Then the VR application was implemented with “The Trench” – a holographic trench modelled by hand, based on the archaeological report. The artefacts were then distributed in the trench based on their metadata recorded within Recollect, allowing the viewer to see density and distribution of artefacts throughout the trench.
Find out more about the Deep Time project here.
Visit the UoN Recollect site Living Histories here.


Australian Railway Historical Society NSW

Presented by James Dalton

The ARHSnsw is a very enthusiastic community whose mission is to – Be a focus for all who are interested in railways, particularly in NSW, through shared experiences, learnings and fellowship”.
ARSHnsw are a not-for-profit society who maintains the largest private collection if railways of NSW, its people, infrastructure and operations by being a publisher, operating a bookshop and resource centre and operating rail-themed tours to help commercial and private interests with their research and / or in support of their hobby.

However, to ensure they can provide these valuable services to the members of their community they need to make money through their archives. Previously their digitised material was uploaded to their intranet, which means that it is only accessible to the public by visiting their reading room.
By implementing a Recollect site for their archives the Society will soon offer access to all their digitised material from anywhere. This is a benefit which strengthens their value proposition for current and prospective members. It will generate interest and grow an engaged community of railway and history enthusiasts and professionals. It also means staff and volunteers can spend more time focused on the maintenance and development of the collection rather than attending to minor enquiries.
If you are interested in gaining access to the Railway Resource Centre please get in touch with James here.

We want to say a big THANK YOU to these presenters for sharing their projects with us and the wider Recollect Community – we love seeing our product being used in such innovating ways to benefit all kinds of communities and collections for access, discoverability, engagement, preservation, management and learning.

Want to find out more? Get in touch with our Recollect team today!

Custom Domain Name

What is a Custom Domain Name?

All Recollect sites are hosted as sub-domains of one of three Recollect domains:


This provides an address such as, where the customer can choose what name appears before
Recollect Enterprise subscribers have the option of creating a unique address (URL) of their own e.g.

Why do you want one?

It allows you to make your site consistent with your organisations other sites, giving an integrated web presence. When you visit the site, the custom domain remains persistent i.e. the user never sees the Recollect domain unless that is the URL they used to visit the site.

Can I have a naked domain?

A naked domain is one that doesn’t have the www before it e.g. Because the internet standards for DNS don’t support alias (CNAME) records on naked domains, these are not suitable for use as custom Recollect domains.

What is the best custom domain for me?

To create a strong link between your collections and your organisation we recommend that you use a sub-domain of your organisations main web site e.g.

I have a custom domain; how do I connect it to my Recollect site?

Your IT department or service provider will need to add a DNS CNAME entry aliasing your custom domain to our site for you, e.g. We will also need an SSL certificate for the domain.

Why do I need a security certificate and where do I get one?

Recollect uses the modern web standard HTTPS, which requires an SSL certificate to secure things and enable many modern web platform features. If you wish to use a custom domain, we will need an SSL certificate for that domain. We will generate the certificates via AWS, which only requires your IT department to add some DNS entries for validation, but if that’s not suitable we can work with you and discuss alternative options.

I want a custom domain; can you help me create one?

Yes, we can do this for you. There will be a charge to establish it and an annual charge for the registrations, ask us for a price.

Contact us to find out more about a Recollect Custom Domain Name

Recollect expands its Australian presence

Recollect announces a significant and new partnership with DatacomIT to deliver the online community engagement and collection management software to Australia.

Recollect has appointed DatacomIT, the Australian industry leader in digitisation, digital preservation and document management solutions to resell Recollect in Australia.  Recollect is a leading platform in online community engagement and collection management designed and developed in New Zealand.  This new partnership will allow DatacomIT to offer Australian organisations an opportunity to access a superior product to enrich how they manage their collections and present them to their communities’.
Recollect makes your content easier to discover and access, enabling you to reach out and empower your stakeholder communities, build your identity, enrich your collections, capture and manage new content and discuss new ideas from anywhere in the world with the cloud-based software.
Andy Fenton, Founder and Managing Director at Recollect commented on the announcement:

This is a watershed moment for our Recollect platform, having recently implemented our 50th site across New Zealand and Australia we also wanted to give new Australian organisations local representation of our world class cloud-based software.  DatacomIT’s pedigree in this space and our long association with, and respect for them, made their appointment an easy choice that we know will be well-received by those seeking to engage their communities’ around their collection, while addressing digital preservation and collection management needs.”

DatacomIT are proudly recognised as approved suppliers on many Australia and State Government ICT and digitisation procurement panels.
Don Beggs, Managing Director at DatacomIT, believes this partnership will not only strengthen our company’s digital preservation offering, but will also serve our greater vision of transforming the future of the industry:

DatacomIT are confident that Recollect will quickly become a market leader, making it the first choice for any organisation that desires to preserve, access and share precious collections as they migrate their content in the digital world.”

Recollect was launched in Australia in February 2016 and there are now twenty Australian sites that are live or under implementation and supported out of New Zealand.  Recollect has exciting growth plans and our partnership with DatacomIT allows us to expand our Australian presence while allowing us to enter the North American and European markets.
Existing Australian customers will continue to receive our dedicated service and support direct from New Zealand as DatacomIT focus on introducing new clients to Recollect.
By leveraging each other’s strengths and capabilities, together DatacomIT and Recollect look forward to many successful initiatives, using Recollect to deliver superior collection management solutions and services within Australia to support the long-term viability of historical collections of Cultural Heritage institutions and any organisation interested in accessing, sharing, and the (digital) preservation of their precious content.
To learn more about the features and benefits of Recollect, please: visit here or email us.

Recollect Implementation

Every organisation is different, with different collections and different needs and levels of access required for its community. Recollect has been designed so that it can be flexibly configured to give your users and community the best experience.

Project Management
The Recollect team recognises that as the digital world continues to rapidly change, it is important to continually evolve to keep up.  We have designed our own project methodology to provide you with a low risk delivery model, that incorporates the most relevant aspects of Agile, PRINCE2 and PMBOK; it draws on the success of Agile methods of communication and Scrum ceremonies, along with the certainty of scope as defined in PRINCE2 and PMBOK. The Recollect methodology has also been developed based on our experience delivering archival digital solutions to our clients.
When we implement your site, we work through a well proven process to ensure that we deliver to you and your community a site that works well and makes your collections discoverable, accessible and engageable. The four phases of the implementation are explained below:

1.    Discovery

The discovery phase is designed to be flexible enough that it can be adapted to your needs and your projects. This phase consists of three workshops that allow us to get a detailed understanding of you, your team, your community and your collections and lets us design the best configuration for your site.

Persona Workshop

The persona workshop is the opportunity for us to work with you to create a common understanding of the groups of key internal and external users of Recollect. We explore why the groups are important to you and what their priorities are when we think about their needs. We create a common persona for each group describing why they would use Recollect, their experience in research, the types of information they are seeking, their pain points, how they would expect the collections to be organised (from their world view) and what type of questions they would ask of the collections.

We also consider the level of access and type of engagement each persona profile needs from your collections.

Data Workshop

We use the data workshop to gain a detailed understanding of your data that needs to be loaded into Recollect. We plan the content load by analysing how the data is going to be organised, what data is required for each persona group, how will we receive the data, who will be doing any data cleansing or transformation.

We also use the data workshop to explore logical, explicit and implicit connections in the collection metadata. This allows us to create a relationship diagram that shows how best to enhance the content discoverability and the user experience, this may also lead to the creation of some record types that act as discoverability connectors e.g. people, roles, places, events, topics.

User Experience Workshop

Having built a good understanding of the needs of the users and of the data, we then explore how we can configure the home page and discoverability elements within Recollect. This includes how we apply your branding to the site, which finding aids are required on the home page or on additional pages. We also consider how best to connect the site elements and attributes e.g. dates, materials and topics together which will provide a seamless experience.

At the end of the discovery phase we will deliver an overarching report that brings together all of the project teams learnings from the three workshops. Included in this report we will also clarify how your data and related content will be loaded, any additional requirements and the projects acceptance criteria.

2.    Configuration

During the configuration phase we start by setting up your site by applying your organisations branding elements e.g. logo, colour palate and font styles. Followed by setting up user security and creating the item templates that will hold your collections and associated metadata.
In this phase your Administrator and our team work in an agile manner, working together collaboratively refining and making minor amendments to your data and configuration until we achieve the results set out in the acceptance criteria. If the changes sought don’t align with the configuration plan we work through a change request process to update the configuration plan.

3.    Data load

Once the configuration is complete, we load the data and content into your site.

4.    Training and Acceptance Testing

While your Administrators receive a large amount of hands on training during the configuration phase, we bring it all together in a formal training workshop to ensure that your Administrators can continue to manage and evolve the site once the project is completed.
Once your training is completed it is time for you to conduct formal acceptance testing of your site. The configuration plan created at the end of the discovery phase and amended by any subsequent change requests is used as the basis for the acceptance testing. Any issues reported are either fixed by us or result in a change request if the requirements have shifted from the configuration plan.

Go Live

You choose when to go live, this can be part way through the project if desired or some time after the project has completed once you are happy that your content is ready for users to view.

Contact us for more information about how the Recollect Implementation process can enhance your Community Engagement and Collection Management activities.

Digital Preservation

What is Digital Preservation?

Digital Preservation has two key elements:

  1. The protection of a digital file from loss or degradation.
  2. Ensuring the information contained within the file remains accessible by the intended audience with the tools they might reasonably be expected to have available to them. This usually means migrating information from obsolete file formats to a current format.

Records Management and Archives have traditionally managed the physical artefacts in their collections, and more recently digital facsimiles have been used to provide easier and wider access to their collections. The physical items remain available to be copied again, should the digital facsimile become corrupt. As technology has improved, early digital facsimiles have been replaced with higher resolution files that sometimes reveal more detailed information than the original itself e.g. faint markings, pencil notations, etc. This means that occasionally if the original artefacts are too damaged or are too costly to store, then the high res digital file becomes the Archival Master.

Physical objects can be stored in environmentally controlled rooms and are subject to regular stocktakes, condition assessment, conservation and preservation treatments to ensure they remain accessible. And while the physical objects may degrade, the underlying technology of a Digital Archival Master does change radically. Therefore, a Digital Preservation condition assessment and regular checksums are an important Records Management activity to ensure the information in those digital files remain readable.

In recent decades, more and more content has been generated digitally whether it is in the form of documents, emails, spreadsheets, databases or other file types. This Digitally Born content may never be reproduced in a physical form, however the need to preserve these files as records for an organisation remains the same as for the physical objects.

Digital files can be subject to degradation through loss or corruption (bit rot), so the digital files need to be stored in a secure environment where they can be counted and assessed, and where digital conservation and preservation processes can be applied where necessary.

A major concern with digital files is that the technological obsolescence of digital data is higher than other fields. A book that is centuries old is essentially the same as one produced today, while for digital files there is an intricate labyrinth of devices and formats, all of them incompatible one with another.

In addition, digital platforms change and the long chains of interdependence on which they depend are complicated and fluid. For example, spreadsheets have evolved, and many early file formats can no longer be read by the latest spreadsheet programmes.

If you have a large collection of digitised and digital born files we recommend you implement a Digital Preservation solution into your Records and Archives Management. Discover how the Digital Preservation functionality in Recollect ensures your digital content is protected and preserved well into the future.

More information about digital preservation can be found at the Open Preservation Foundation or the information reference data model developed by the Open Archival Information Standards Initiative.

Contact us for your Digital Preservation solution

Tell Your Stories – New Digital Storytelling Features in Recollect

Digital Storytelling

In a world where content is king / queen and online research and learning is the most powerful and preferred way of finding information, digital storytelling tools have emerged. Why not enhance the access and engagement to your digital collections by sharing the stories about your community and collections?
Online storytelling and community engagement initiatives within our Recollect Community has inspired our Recollect team to develop a series of new features that help our Recollect Administrators bring life to the stories within their digital collections. The often-hidden stories within collections and the relationships between items can now be easily documented and displayed in a Recollect site adding to the richness of the metadata and knowledge around a collection.
The new storytelling features include a Narrative tool, Timeline tool, a Collections widget, and a User Map widget to identify the level of engagement with your stories.

Narrative Item

The new Narrative Item allows Recollect Administrators to create and display stories – or Narratives using their existing and additional digital collections within their Recollect site using a simple “blog-like” editing tool.
Using the Narrative Item, Recollect Administrators can tell the stories between assets by linking data and collections together in a comprehensive way. Uncovering the stories connecting a digital collection and recording them for digital engagement with their site visitors and researchers.
Each Narrative then becomes an “item” within the Recollect site that is easily searchable and discoverable and linked to the assets and metadata in the site. View a Recollect Narrative here.

Timeline Item

The Timeline Item is an interactive display tool for visitors to discover the history of a topic, event, person or any kind of metadata collection a Recollect site may hold.
When telling a story that has a rich history that spans years of content, events, people and digital collections, the new Timeline Item allows Recollect Administrators to display a visual Timeline that shows the content in time relationships. View a Recollect Timeline here.
The University of Newcastle site Living Histories have a great example of displaying their collection with the Timeline Item, see here.

Collections Widget

With incredible collections recorded and displayed in a Recollect site, our Recollect team have developed a new option to highlight collections on the homepage of a Recollect site. Bringing more awareness and promotion of collections, narratives and timelines to the eyes of site visitors.
The Collections Widget allows Recollect Administrators to choose their best and most relevant collections to display on the homepage of their site. View the Recollect Collections Widget here.

User Map Widget

Having shared your stories using Recollects Community Engagement and Digital Storytelling tools, the User Map tool allows users to review and analyse the engagement in the content. The new User Map widget allows users to view the geolocation of site visitors and what items they have viewed.
Perhaps you have a collection that relates to a specific area of your community, using the User Map widget you can analyse the engagement through a simple world map display – showing the individual asset, narrative, timeline or collection that a user has viewed and engaged with. View an example of the User Map widget here.

Find out more about Recollect and how to engage your community through Recollect Digital Storytelling Features

Recollect Reaches 50!

The growth of our Recollect Community has been astronomical over the last few years with a 333% increase in the development of community sites, from only 15 in 2015 to now reaching the 50 milestone in 2018! With more than 14 million units of metadata over these 50 Recollect sites, we are very proud to say this is just the beginning, with Recollect's potential being unlocked by those who protect such incredible digital collections.

We want to take a moment to thank our Recollect users and administrators for their support and trust over the years and say that we remain passionate and driven to deliver a powerful CMS that allows your identity, collections, knowledge and communities to flourish in the digital age.

We can’t wait to meet the rest of the world and help communities' discover, access and engage with their collections.
Help us celebrate this milestone by sharing your favourite collection item from a Recollect site on Twitter, use the hashtag #Recollect50
Watch this space for the announcement of who our 50th Recollect Community is…..

View 3D files online with Recollect

The new Recollect 3D file viewer is an interactive and innovative tool that allows a user to view, zoom, pan & rotate low-res (web-friendly) 3D object files.

With advancements in technology making 3D printing and scanning more available to the public, we are now in the era of accessing everything online at our fingertips, often from our pockets. We’re not quite at the hologram stage yet but VR and AR technologies are taking off and being developed by leading innovators throughout the globe. Offering new experiences and interactive opportunities with collections that were never easily available before.

Recollect now offers our clients a solution to storing, accessing, sharing and interacting with their 3D files and digital assets online that enable a higher level of interaction and experience through embracing new technologies and ways of touching history.

Significant cultural collections and organisations manage a variety of objects and materials that are progressively being scanned into three-dimensional digital files for ease of use and viewing. Museum objects such as significant archeological rocks and historical indigenous tools are now digitally preserved and viewed online in a Recollect platform.

Precious objects and special collections are notoriously very difficult to access as they demand proper handling requirements and suitable controlled environments. Items that have been digitally scanned are easily accessed and viewed online from anywhere in the world.


Try it yourself

Living Histories @ UON are using the 3D item in Recollect to enable virtual reality experiences and learning opportunities with their collection of indigenous artifacts through their collaborative Virtual Reality Deep Time project.
Using our Recollect 3D viewing feature, researchers, historians and archaeologists can devour the entire surface of a three-dimensional object in its accurately rendered digitised form. Zooming in on every detail, crease and remnant of the past, they can discover the history and origin of objects up close without the constraints of handling equipment and controlled environments, eliminating the risk of damage to the physical object.

Allow your community to seamlessly interact with a digitised object, easy viewing with no limitations or access constraints. Research and discover an entire collection of history of any dimension or format right from the convenience of your chosen screen.
Digital Assets such as CAD plans and BIM (Building Information Models) can also be displayed and stored in the one Recollect repository with associated metadata linked to each digital asset. Empowering a Digital Asset Management system for seamless access for any organisation with a collection of digital assets and information that need to be accessed on a regular basis.


Our 3D viewing feature currently supports an .obj Object File with a .jpg or .png Texture file. With associated files and metadata such as ultra-high resolution, proprietary CAD or other rendering output files attached to the recorded item and downloaded from a central repository.

Contact us about viewing your object collection online.

The Power of a Collection Management System

If you work for a museum, gallery, archival institution, library or any industry that is responsible for managing and maintaining a special and significant collection of material, a Collection Management System (CMS) could be beneficial for you.  A comprehensive CMS will let you easily manage all the information about each item in your collection and the overall collection as a whole, ultimately providing you better in-house digital asset management. Perhaps most importantly, data created and captured in a CMS during archival and preservation processes can supercharge special collection activities, effectively adding greater results without additional overhead.
While a CMS is an important tool for internal members of your organisation, a really smart CMS will also enable engagement of external communities with features and tools for users, visitors and customers to research and add knowledge to the collection.
According to the International Data Corporation (IDC), between 80-90% of enterprise data is still unstructured, living in a variety of siloed organisational systems. If this sounds familiar, then the following points will demonstrate the benefits of using a CMS to make your data more accessible and useable.

1. All Your Data, All in One Smart System

A CMS can house and protect everything you, your organisation and your community know about your collections. This could be in the form of the digitised images, text, audio or visual material, plus the metadata relating to those items, conservation documentation, licences and rights, insurance and valuation, barcodes, cataloguing, loans, publication and exhibition history plus many more pieces of information.
With all your information in one place, new connections can be made between related data of your collections that might not have been known before, creating a thorough research tool for you and your intended users/audience. A CMS takes away the sometimes overwhelming knowledge of collections into an easily searchable database. This allows you to have a complete overview of your collections and ability to see themes and stories that your collections are telling you.
Giving shape to collection-related data inside a unified CMS allows your data to be analysed by business intelligence tools and visualisation systems. Using these powerful resources, data contained in a comprehensive CMS not only provides crucial information for the performance of archival activities, but also becomes a river of information from which internal teams can draw insights into their own processes.

2. Data Enabled Decision Making

Your collections face many risks, from becoming misplaced, damaged due to poor storage, neglect, inappropriate conservation measures or by simply being undervalued. With a well maintained CMS you will have extensive protection and risk mitigation for the collections.
Internally, these benefits are not limited to management tasks, they will help push the collections professional personnel into a new era of data-enabled decision making. According to Joyce Chapman of Duke University Libraries and Elizabeth Yakel of the University of Michigan, professionals working with collections in the current environment "must be intelligent creators, manipulators, and consumers of quantitative data. They need skills in quantitative data analysis and database querying, as well as knowledge of data definitions and data modelling."
A CMS enables the gaps in your collection to be seen visually and where research or acquisition will enhance the quality of your collection. Seeing a collection of related data in your CMS assists curatorial decisions about how your collections are presented to your audience.

3. Streamlined Internal Operations

A CMS ensures that data related to provenance, valuation and content of collection items is available to the users that need access in ways that support their activities from accessioning, though to cataloguing, stocktaking and disposal. A smart CMS makes related information available when required, whether this is loan information or high resolution images of the objects and details on the objects, or geotagged data about the locations.

4. Enhanced External Engagement

Institutional collections and knowledge can become raw material for any type of creative or commercial endeavour; interactive exhibitions now exist online and in-house, and content creators are scouring the online world for inspiration and supporting material for everything from podcasts to feature films. By creating digital archives and an online presence which encourage discovery, interaction, and re-use, collection holders can foster incredible community engagement and establish rewarding commercial partnerships.
Thomas Padilla of UC Santa Barbara describes three "conceptual frames" which collecting institutions can use their data as an essential engagement point with audiences:
• Generativity – to increase meaning making capacity;
• Legibility – to document and convey provenance and possibility;
• Creativity – to empower experimentation.
Maintaining a comprehensive CMS also pays dividends when connecting to your user and visitor base. By implementing a continuous cycle of uploading compelling digital assets and linked metadata, configuring platforms for crowd interaction, and analysing user behaviour, institutions can utilise their CMS to unlock the valuable knowledge and drive a passionate community of contributors.
Open access CMS allows engagement with your collection by external experts to add knowledge to specific parts of your collection in a completely controlled and moderated environment. Open access also enables volunteers and members of your community to contribute knowledge and history to your collections.
In this increasingly digital world, a CMS facilitates the creation of online digital exhibitions to enhance and promote stakeholder and community engagement. With a well-structured CMS you can provide the material needed to create rich experiences which capture the imagination of online and in-person visitors.

5. Choosing a CMS

When choosing a smart CMS we recommend you ask yourself the following questions to make sure you choose the right software for your collection.
What kind of material do you have in your collections and what CMS software will be able to hold them, from digital images, text documents, PDFs, or audio visual material.
Who needs to access your collections? Determine your level of access, is the CMS for a secure in-office data base or do you need a cloud based software that can be accessed anywhere.  This will also factor into your level of security and desired publishing and promotion of your collections. Do they need to be accessed anywhere by anyone or are they private collections only for the viewing of smaller groups of people?
Do you want to share your collections with the world? Determine if your collections need the ability to integrate with other programmes and software, eg; social media, google maps, internal database system, etc.
What is your desired level of customisation? If you have a strong brand that associates with your collections you need to choose a CMS that allows a high level of customisation.
What level of technical resources do you have to manage a CMS? Many CMS software packages include a level of support and training to help you manage your collections. If you have in-house knowledge and resources to manage and maintain your own collections you can fully own the operation of your CMS. However, if you have limited resources some CMS packages do have the benefits of access to metadata and collection management experts available for consultation and training.

6. Implementing a CMS

Selecting the right CMS is important, but a great CMS that is poorly configured and maintained is a waste of time and effort.
A good implementation starts with discovery, a detailed analysis of user requirements through developing user personas and creating a strong understanding of what and how users need the CMS to deliver benefits. A comprehensive review of the collections, metadata and related information is essential to understanding what can be delivered to the users and what additional data needs to be created to ensure the system is useful.
A well thought out plan that includes project scope, task lists, realistic timelines, risk, issues and communication registers needs to be created and managed effectively.
And finally, the implementation needs to be given adequate resource to allow success.


A smart, properly implemented CMS provides a platform to deliver real increases in organisational productivity, and access to and engagement with your collections.
Contact us if you have questions or would like to discuss your requirements for a smart Collection Management System.

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Emerging from the Primordial Technological Ooze

Suffering from non-integrated systems that operated as part of the “primordial technological ooze” the University of Newcastle needed a single system that would make all of their digital collections accessible and easy to engage with online. After an extensive global search, UON selected Recollect to share, manage and grow their historical cultural collections. The Recollect platform allowed for a smooth and easy solution to manage their large digital collections. Recollect has made their material accessible, discoverable and engaging for communities, fellow researchers, partners and future collaborators.

Living Histories @ UON was launched in February 2017 and currently holds the digitised material of the Cultural Collections section of the University Library that includes the Archives and Special Collections. The Archives holds some 2,000 shelf metres of priceless manuscript material dating from the year 1826. These collections contain a great wealth of untapped information and have an extraordinary range and depth for research and are extremely valuable and unique to Australian libraries.

  • Over 70,000 historical collection items have been uploaded to Living Histories @ UON
  • Comments and suggested edits are captured and managed
  • Diverse media and information are all in the one place
  • Increased community engagement with their historical collections
  • Unlimited opportunities for the knowledge to grow.

The Challenge

The Librarians and Archivists were faced with the challenge of making the collections easily accessible and discoverable while recording important information and corrections to enhance the knowledge about each item.  UON were using a number of image sharing programmes and apps to expand the life of their collections and engage with a variety of people interested in viewing historical collections.

“We previously tried to bring all the digital objects under the one umbrella in a digital repository that was connected to the library catalogue, in order to have the same look and feel, and to improve searchability and findability. Ultimately, this effort was unsuccessful, because the system was inflexible, difficult to use, unattractive, not customisable and it was not easy to establish relationships between the data objects."
“For a decade, the Cultural Collections team had been using Flickr for community engagement. This has been successful with over 47 million views. Though Flickr is great for engagement, it only functions for images. We needed a platform that had the engagement of Flickr combined with a DAM (Digital Asset Management) functionality. The team trialled and evaluated a variety of DAMs and while many functioned well as ‘containers’ few had the level of interactivity we required.”
Creating awareness and interest in the collections was the main goal for using these formats. Before Recollect we used whatever technologies we could to get the resources out there and to engage with our communities. We had stuff all over the place.”

These previous formats not only created a relatively un-searchable collection of resources, but the valuable and interesting comments that were left on each image were lost in the constant stream of releasing new images.

The Solution

After attempts to find a system that would help grow their knowledge and not just share it, they chose Recollect and Living Histories was born.

“Recollect exceeded our requirements, being highly customisable, easily Google indexed, mobile friendly, using persistent identifiers and supporting a variety of media. It excels at community engagement through user contributions, tagging, curating favourites, commenting and social media integration.”
“The team at Recollect transferred 55,000 images from Flickr as well as thousands of hours of audio-visual material, publications and manuscripts onto Living Histories. They also transferred the comments and tags accompanying the Flickr images which provide contextual, searchable metadata.”

Recollect provides access to all of their digital resources such as images, documents, audio, video, and 3D files, presenting all data in the same place which can be searched using a single interface.  Plus high levels of community engagement functions and the ability to capture contributions and relationships that enhance the knowledge and information stored within Living Histories.

We have strong community relationships and the platform allows members of the public and our community "team" to contribute by adding stories and data such as geotags and other tags.”

The Success

Currently Living Histories has a growing number of over 70,000 items that have been uploaded to the site, including over 60,000 photographs, over 4,900 wine labels, almost 3,300 publications and over 1,000 audio-visual items.  

"Living Histories" is the portal through which the public can explore, discover, and engage with the University of Newcastle Cultural Collections. Recollect has helped us by providing a configured, hosted platform for storage and worldwide dissemination of UON digital assets and knowledge.”
“Recollect allows us to build stories with our content. Each digital item in the system is enriched by connections, such as people and place, which build context around the items. Recollect enables interaction between users and the site content, opening up new and exciting possibilities for sharing content and knowledge.”

Community Engagement

“We have always had strong relationships with the local communities,historical societies, local historians and members of the public.   Users have given feedback about the usefulness of Living Histories for both genealogical research and student assignments in subjects History, Geography, Architecture and Fine Arts. The quality of and breadth of information provided, searchability and ability to download high resolution files make it an invaluable resource for students.”
“The Hunter Rainbow History Group has embraced using Recollect as a “Hunter LGBTIQ archive”. They are collecting people’s memories, photos, audio recordings and news clippings. They say “It’s all about keeping Hunter stories close and accessible…”. After a little training from the Cultural Collections team, this group can now simply and easily publish their content on the Living Histories site.”

Training, Further Opportunities and Diverse uses

“Recollect is also being used as a training opportunity for our Work Integrated Learning (WIL) students. This new platform offers great opportunities for students to be given real world experience, working with GLAM professionals to create digital works and publish them. WIL students work with faculty and professional staff on real artefacts, manuscripts, publications, images and audio-visual files and publish the results on Living Histories @ UON, something that has not been possible to any extent before.”

The Future

“The flexible and customisable nature of Recollect means that the Living Histories site can grow and adapt over time to meet new ideas and trends, including further integration with Virtual Reality technologies. We envision that in the future the community of Living Histories contributors will grow exponentially as users discover the interactive features of the site.”

Living Histories @ UON has a collaborative approach to sharing knowledge and making more collections accessible.  They have and continue to partner with many different groups and individuals to support and display unique collections.  Recollect has scooped up the ooze and sculpted it into a format that provides unlimited opportunities for the knowledge to grow and help shape the future.

To find out how Recollect can grow your future, contact us for a consultation.