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Making a clean get away

Maintaining clean, consistent data in your Collections Management System

Maintaining clean, consistent data presents a challenge to the most dedicated of data entry aficionados. At the 2016 Axiell European User Group meeting, we had a lively discussion about how data is compromised and what steps we can take in the ongoing campaign to keep data clean. Consensus is that organisational support is key and that vetting data is an ongoing process that requires constant engagement.

The current state of our data impacts how we interact with it. Without clean data, web users get frustrated and abandon searches, researchers overlook critical collection highlights, and staff struggle to compile accurate statistics for line managers. Users may find themselves frantically calculating figures using standalone Excel spreadsheets to prove compliance for accreditation or maintaining lists in Word to generate year end reports for the Board of Directors. Each time a process or report has to be manually generated, it costs an organisation time and money.

Inconsistent data stems from a variety of sources: legacy migrations, variation in practices over time, insufficient training, and ambiguous data standards. Records may be catalogued at multiple levels: some as collections, others as folders or items without any identifiable rationale for the descriptive approach taken. In addition, as multiple siloed systems are merged into a more powerful enterprise repository, discrepancies in how different departments catalogue materials begin to surface. The situation with conflicting terminology continues to escalate as new divisions are brought on-board. Collections and Documentation managers may finally find themselves at the end of decades-long projects to consolidate an organisation’s data only to be met with feedback that users are having difficulty retrieving the records they want due to conflicting data methodology.

With data at the centre of a significant number of key projects at our organisations, ensuring core data is clean and useable is critical to best serving the needs of our internal and external audiences.


Based on feedback to the Dirty Data session of the 2016 Axiell European User Group meeting, we were inspired to design a new Data Bootcamp. Our inaugural session is open to any Axiell system user and will be hosted in our Ottawa office on 7-8 December 2016. We will be reviewing data clean-up tools and strategies and providing moral support for the data lovers amongst us. For pricing and enrolment information or to enquire about scheduling a boot camp in your region, please reach out to us at sales-alm@axiell.com.


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