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ICA-AtoM allows organisations to create standards-based descriptions of their archival holdings and subsequently publish them to the Web.



ICA-AtoM allows organisations to create standards-based descriptions of their archival holdings and subsequently publish them to the Web.  It was designed to support a wide variety of repository and collection types, providing multi-lingual interfaces and supporting multi-repository implementations.


Managed by Artefactual Systems on behalf of the International Council on Archives

Licensing and cost

AGPL – free.

Development activity

Version 1.3.1 was released in May 2013. Version 1.4 is due 'summer 2013' with enhanced Archivematica integration and various bug fixes. The project advertises funding from a wide variety of sources, including the ICA, UNESCO, the World Bank, and several national archives. Current development activity is tracked at: https://projects.artefactual.com/versions/53

Platform and interoperability

ICA-AtoM is a web-based application written in PHP5 using the symfony framework, qubit toolkit, and the Propel object-relation mapping (ORM) framework. The system requires a webserver and database server as well as PHP 5.3 or higher with Multibyte String extension; it recommends Apache webserver and MySQL database engine with PDO extension. Use of a wide range of SQL databases is 'theoretically' possible though not supported (see minimum requirements). The software will run in Linux, Mac OS X 10.5 and higher, and Windows; for Windows users the project recommends WAMPServer or XAMPP to configure the system if the required software is not in place.

Functional notes

ICA-AtoM creates HTML pages for each item in the repository, serving them to web browsers upon request.  The descriptive records at the heart of the application are stored in a database on the server you have the software installed on.  PHP software code manages requests and responses between the web clients, the application logic, and the application content stored in the database. The project developed the Qubit Open Information Management Toolkit, based on a symfony framework, to organise the component parts using object orientation and best practice web design patterns. ICA-AtoM uses the Zend Lucene search engine and ranks search results based on where the search term appears in the record. The interface is available in Dutch, French, Spanish, Slovenian and Polish.

Documentation and user support

ICA-Atom provides excellent documentation, including a user manual, tutorials, a demonstrator download, and a glossary.  The site also links to an extremely active Google discussion group.


The software uses a simple web-based interface, and includes an installer that will check the system and report back if the user needs to upgrade any of the server's technical requirements.

Expertise required

Users must have archival accessioning skills, including solid knowledge of metadata standards.

Standards compliance

The software is designed around the International Council on Archives’ descriptive standards, including ISAD(G), ISAAR(CPF), ISDIAH, and ISDF.  It is also possible to configure the tool to implement the Dublin Core, EAD, EAC, SKOS, and MODS standards. Rights metadata elements are based on PREMIS. ICA-AtoM supports OAI-PMH.

Influence and take-up

As of October 2012 there were approx 250 institutions running ICA-AtoM; examples include UNESCO, the Montreal Neurological Institute, and the Digital Archive of Research on Thailand. A list of implementation examples can be found on the site.  The ICA-AtoM discussion group has over 250 members as of April 2012.

User Experiences

Development Activity


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