Connecticut Collections has three main components:
The heart of CTCo is a state-of-the-art collections management system that is standardized, offers access to multiple descriptive vocabulary systems, and allows cataloging for the full range of collections housed in most history museums, including objects, tools, artwork, photographs, ephemera, diaries, letters, manuscript and archival collections, textiles, household implements, and more. The database for internal organizational use allows you to specify storage locations, log provenance information, track loans and donations, import and export data, produce reports, and carry out other important internal collecting functions.
CTCo is a customization of Collective Access, an open source software tool for managing and publishing museum and archival collections. Some of its features include:
Want to try it out for free? We maintain a Connecticut Collections Sandbox where you can log in to a system populated with sample data and play around to see what the database can do. Email Diane Lee at firstname.lastname@example.org for information about how to access the Sandbox.
Researchers, students, teachers, and history buffs will be able to browse collections or search for specific kinds of artifacts, photographs, artwork, and other items using keywords, geo-reference points, object types, time period, and so on. Visit our current public portal at ctcollections.org
We are working with the Connecticut Digital Archive to connect the two projects so that items shared in the Connecticut Collections portal will also be published online and preserved in the state's preservation repository. Input the data once into your CTCo management system, mark the record for ingest into the CTDA, and your responsibility to digitally preserve your collections is done.
If you're accustomed to only being able to access your collections database from one computer on-site, you know how limiting that can be. Because it is cloud-based and securely accessible from any web browser, CTCo allows you to call up your collections database from anywhere. And because you can create additional user logins for free, multiple people you designate can access the database simultaneously. This makes it possible for volunteers or interns to catalog or enter data from home or on-site at the same time, or for you to look things up quickly without going to the office.
One of the greatest advantages of being part of CTCo is the ability for you to choose to make your collections more discoverable online—even to people who don't know about you yet. Our public portal makes your collections searchable not just on their own, but alongside other Connecticut collections. This means that researchers and other members of the public can find your materials before even knowing they exist. Instead of having to go directly to your website, they can search statewide collections all at once through the public portal, discovering more records in one place. Many online collections management systems allow you to make your materials publicly searchable, but they remain an island unto themselves. With CTCo, you can have a landing page for your own collections, while also making those collections more discoverable through the portal as a whole.
Discoverability goes beyond the CTCo public portal. Our software connector to the Connecticut Digital Archive (CTDA) automatically makes your publicly available collections searchable through the CTDA as well. And since the CTDA is Connecticut's hub for the Digital Public Library of America, that means that, with no additional work, all publicly available records in your system are automatically searchable through multiple content hubs across the country. This means more visibility for your collections—and your organization—not just here in Connecticut but around the globe.
For most organizations, CTCo offers more features for less money, compared to similar systems like Past Perfect Online. Our annual fees are billed on a sliding scale based on your organization's annual budget, and start at just $300 a year for institutions with budgets under $50,000. We also don't charge you extra for things like additional users or making your collections public. Our rates are based on your budget, not how many records or users you have, or how many items you want to share online.
It's hard to keep up with all the trends and standards in digital preservation. With CTCo, you don't have to—just leave that to us. Our software connector to the CTDA provides long-term digital preservation for all your collection records, not just those that are designated as publicly searchable. We also maintain a backup of the entire system in the cloud, and are in the process of setting up a redundant backup server of our own.
From the outset, CTCo was designed to be a powerful and affordable option, particularly for small and mid-sized organizations. We don't charge you extra to make a profit on this service—all our fees go directly toward the costs of running the system, including server space, backup systems, the public portal, ongoing maintenance and development, technical support and training, and staff and contractor time. There are no hidden fees for additional users, or the number of records you have, or to make collections items searchable online.
The yearly subscription costs are based on your organization's annual operating budget.
Budget up to $50,000: $300
$50,001 to $100,000: $500
$100,001 to $200,000: $1,000
$200,001 to $500,000: $1,500
$500,001 and above: $2,500
If you are moving from another system, such as Past Perfect or a custom database, or if you have existing collections data in spreadsheets that you will want to bring into the system, you will be charged an additional, one-time fee to cover the cost of the migration. This is a pass-through fee we pay directly to the software developer.
Migrations can run from $1,000 to $7,000, depending on the complexity of the data mapping. If you are interested in migrating data, please contact us at email@example.com for an estimate.
Thanks to a Partnership Grant from CT Humanities and an Archives Collaboratives Implementation Grant from the National Historical Records and Publications Administration, CLHO currently has a limited amount of funds available to help defray migration expenses for organizations joining CTCo in 2022, 2023, and 2024. These funds will be allocated annually in an equitable manner, with an emphasis on lowering the bar to participation for the greatest number of organizations.
All CTCo fees—both annual and migration—are eligible expenses for
most CT Humanities grants, including Connecticut Cultural Fund Operating
Support Grants and SHARP Grants. If you have questions about eligibility, please contact CTH grants staff directly.
Each participating institution automatically receives the following:
Connecticut Collections brings in new organizations on a yearly basis. We take applications through mid-September, then begin the process of creating new systems and, where necessary, organizing and scheduling data migration. If you're starting with a blank database, you can be up and running by January. If you are migrating data, the process will take longer, depending on its complexity and the number of migrations we have in a given cycle.
This is not a competitive process; the application is designed to help us understand your organization, your collections, and your needs so that we can ensure a smooth transition to the system.
If you are interested in applying, we recommend contacting Diane Lee, the Connecticut Collections Project Manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a phone consultation.
Connecticut Collections is the tool chosen by over 30 museums, historical societies, libraries, archives and special collections, ethnic and community organizations, and municipal collections across Connecticut. New organizations join each year, so our community and user base is always growing. Our current members are: