User Guide

Download a PDF version of this User Guide with screenshots here.


The Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre (VHEC) uses CollectiveAccess open source collection management software to provide access to our archives, museum, library and survivor testimony collections. The four collections can be browsed or searched together or individually. Together they contain books, periodicals, documents, still images (photographs, drawings, paintings), moving images (films and videos), sound recordings (albums, CDs, cassettes), objects, datasets and mixed media. Our catalogue also contains records for individuals, families and organizations, historical events, institutional events and exhibitions as they relate to our holdings. Many of the catalogue records have digital material associated with them.


The menu bar across the top of the page allows users to browse the collections, visit the home pages of each of the collections—archives, museum, library and Holocaust testimonies—access resources for research and education (including research guides and finding aids), view featured collections and exhibitions and contribute to the work of the VHEC.

Use the quick search box to the right of the menu to search all collections simultaneously (see below).

Click the advanced search link below the search box to conduct a more specific, cross-collection search (see below).

The person icon directly to the right of the quick search box enables users to create an account, view their Lightbox, edit their profile (including reset their password) and log out.

Information about collections is found by clicking the "i" icon. Users can find information about how to plan a research visit, how to use and license materials from the collection, contact information and this user guide.

You can access the home pages of each of the four collections—archives, museum, library and survivor testimonies—by clicking the relevant image at the bottom of the home page.


To simultaneously browse the archives, museum, library and survivor testimonies, click “Collections” on the menu bar.

Click “Browse All” on the drop-down list.

“Browse All” enables you to browse records from all four collections at once. The results may be filtered according to attributes common to all four collections (see below). Note: The records you retrieve while browsing are for individual items in our collection. To browse our archival collections or fonds, use “Finding Aids” (see below).

Explore each collection individually for more filtering options. From the menu bar click “Collections” then select a collection: Archives, Library, Museum or Holocaust Testimony. You will land on to that collection’s home page and a secondary menu will appear.

Click "Explore" on the menu  bar, and then click "Browse."    

Browse All

Once you have selected "Browse All," a secondary menu bar will appear with multiple browse options: Resource Types, Primary Sources, Finding Aids or All.

Resources Types allows you to limit your browsing to a particular type of resource grouped by form and/or physical characteristics: books and periodicals; born digital (exclusively digital content); documents; mixed media (teaching kits, classroom book sets etc.); moving images (films and videos); objects; sound recordings (albums, CDs, cassettes etc.); still images (photographs, drawings, paintings). Materials in the collection are each assigned a single Resource Type.

Primary Sources allows you to limit your browsing to primary source material. Primary sources are records created during the time period under study. In the VHEC's collection, primary sources include original materials created or used before, during and after the Holocaust as well as eyewitness accounts that were documented later, such as oral testimonies and memoirs of those who directly experienced the events. In the Primary Sources tabs, resources are grouped by similar intellectual characteristics and/or common physical characteristics. Materials in the archives and museum collections may have been assigned more than one Primary Source type. Most library resources are secondary sources and thus are excluded from Primary Sources browse.

Primary Source types include: albums, diaries and scrapbooks; arts and culture; clothing, jewellery and textiles; correspondence and philatelic materials; currency, medals and militaria; daily life and household; education and research; identity, migration and travel; maps, plans and architecture; Nazism and propaganda; photographs; publications and ephemera; religious materials; sports and recreation; and testimonies. 

Finding Aids allows to you navigate the VHEC's archival fonds and collections. This page lists finding aids alphabetically by title and includes a summary of the scope and contents of a collection. Finding aids can be explored by clicking on a title to view the full archival record, which includes expandable hierarchical levels for the series, files or items contained within a fonds, as well as an option to download the finding aid as a PDF.

All returns records for all items and allows users to sort the results and select different browse filters, for example: subject, place, people and organizations, or language.

Results for Browsing

Once you have selected one of the Browse options (Resource Types, Primary Sources or All), you will see the number of resources of that type held by the VHEC. To start over, use the back button on your web browser or the small "x" beside the filter type.

Click the cog icon to the right of the number of results to sort your results—by title or date, and in ascending or descending order.

Click on one of the icons at the top right of the screen (above "Filter By") to choose how your results are displayed—as a gallery, a list or a map. Only records tagged with a place will appear on the map.

You can also add all or selected results to the Lightbox (see below).

You can narrow your results by selecting one of the "Filter By" facets on the right side of the screen.

Depending on your initial selection, you can filter by:

  • Collection Type (archives, survivor testimony, museum or library)
  • Resource Type (books and periodicals; born digital; documents; mixed media; moving images; objects; sound records; still images)
  • Subject
  • Genre (the term used to designate different kinds of primary sources)
  • People & Organizations
  • Language
  • Place

Each facet will expand to offer additional options. The type of options under a facet depends on the items related to that option. Facets will disappear when no items of that type are available (ex: If no documents are in Czech, Czech will not appear as an option under Languages). Click "add more" to expand the list. You will see your selections at the top of the page (ex: Resource Type: Object > Genre: Currency, Medals & Militaria). Remove your selection by clicking the "x" behind it. The Lightbox feature enables users to create, share and download their own collection of items selected from the VHEC's online catalogue. A lightbox is created by saving catalogue records.

The Subject filter allows you to browse by topic. Click on one of the 16 higher-level topical categories to explore more specific terms (ex: Subject > Movement > Deportations).


You can choose to search all collections simultaneously (archives, museum, library and survivor testimonies) or you can search each collection separately.

Quick Search

The Quick Search box is at the top right corner of the screen.

Enter a keyword or phrase in the box and a search will be conducted across the full text of the records in all collections. Quick Search will retrieve records for items and fonds or collections as well as records for:

  • Entities: individuals, families or organizations who are the creators and/or subjects of materials in the collection;
  • Exhibitions;
  • Institutional events;
  • Historical events;
  • Places.

Search terms can be entered using "AND" or "OR."

"AND" retrieves records that contain all your search terms. "OR" retrieves records that have one of your search terms

If you do not include AND/OR between search terms, AND is assumed; records containing all your search terms will be retrieved.

A search can be broadened by using the asterisk (*) after the root word of the search term to return results containing all variations of the root wood. For example, deport* will retrieve records containing any of the words "deport," "deported," "deportation" and "deports."

Advanced Search: Cross Collection

Click "Advanced Search" under the search bar to use the advanced search form.

Advanced Search allows you to conduct more specific and refined searches across all collections (archival items, museum, library and testimony). The advantage of searching all collections simultaneously is that you will receive more numerous and varied results; however, there will be fewer fields to search. Only fields in common to all four collections will be searchable.

The following fields can be searched in a cross-collection (or combined collections) search:

  • All fields: keyword search across the entire catalogue record;
  • Collection Type: Archives, Library, Museum or Holocaust Testimonies;
  • Resource Type: books and periodicals; documents; still images; moving images; sound recordings; objects etc;
  • Unique Identifier: the unique number assigned to each item. (For library resources this is the barcode associated with an item. ISBNs and Call Numbers can be searched using the Keyword or Quick Search.);
  • Title;
  • Creator/Contributor;
  • Subject;
  • Genre: the term used for types of primary sources;
  • People & Organizations: individuals, families or organizations associated with an item in a capacity other than creator or contributor;
  • Language;
  • Place.

Enter your own words or phrases in search boxes or make a choice from a dropdown list.

Entering terms in more than one box (or more than one term in a single box), will return records containing all terms (an "AND" search is assumed).

Use the asterisk (*) after the root word of a search term to broaden your return to include spelling variations and compound words.

Using the Advanced Search form only retrieves results for archival items, museum works, library items and testimony records. Archival fonds-, series- and file-level records are not retrieved and can be found using Quick Search or by accessing our Finding Aids.

Advanced Search: Individual Collections

Individual collections also have Advanced Search forms specific to the fields used in records for items in that collection.

Click "Collections" on the menu bar and select one of the four collections (archives, library, museum and testimony). Click "Explore" in the secondary menu bar, and then click "Advanced Search."

Certain fields are specific to the collection you are searching. Hover your mouse over a field for more details.


 Quick Search Results

After you have conducted a Quick Search your results will be displayed in rows organized in the following way (including the number of records retrieved in parentheses):

  • All results;
  • Museum works;
  • Archival collections or fonds (only the collections-, fonds- and series-level records appear in quick search results);
  • Archival items;
  • Library items;
  • Holocaust testimonies;
  • People & Organizations;
  • Places;
  • Exhibitions.

You can horizontally scroll through results using the arrows at the end of each row.

At the top right of each row you have the option to sort the results by relevance, title or date. Use the arrow to sort by ascending or descending order.

For items from the four collections, search results are displayed in tiles with an image thumbnail (if available), the type of resource, the title of the item, the date of creation and the creator. Click a tile to view the full catalogue record for the item.

Click "Full Results" to the left of the sort options to view all the records retrieved. See above for how to use display and Filter By functions from the Full Results page.

Advanced Search Results

Results for the Advanced Search appear in list view with an image thumbnail (if available), the title and date of creation.

Your search terms, and the number of records retrieved, appear in the upper left corner of the screen.

The filters appear on the right side of the screen and allow you to narrow your search (see above).


Navigating Search Results

From an item catalogue record screen, an interactive breadcrumb trail will appear below the main menu bar to indicate where you are on the site. Each segment of the breadcrumb trail is hyperlinked.

Use the double-arrow back button at the top left of the screen to return to your search results. If you use the back button in the browser, you will lose your selected sort order.

Use the single arrow "Previous" and "Next" buttons on the top left and right of the screen to scroll through your results.



If available, an image of the item will appear on the left of the object record screen. If alternative views of the item are available, they will appear below the main image. You can scroll through multiple images using the arrows to the left and right of the image.

Click the magnifying glass under the image to open the image viewer. 

You can zoom, rotate and scroll through multiple images from the viewer.

To close the viewer, click the "x" in the bottom right corner of the viewer or press the escape key to return to the catalogue record.

Click the suitcase icon to add the item to your lightbox.

Click the arrow icon to download the image (digital images are usually JPEG files and documents are PDF files).

The Access Points panel lists local subject headings associated with the item.

Click on one of the terms to retrieve records for other items with the same subject heading.

These topical terms are the same as the Subject filters when browsing collections.

The Rights drop-down box is below Access Points and indicates the conditions under which the item may be accessed, used and reproduced.

At the bottom of the screen are a series of tabs grouping together other records in the VHEC's holdings related to the item, namely:

  • Related items held in the archives, museum, library or survivor testimony collections
  • Events & Exhibitions
  • Places
  • People & Organizations

Related tabs appear only when related content is available.

Item Details

The item details appear on the right of the screen and will differ depending on the collection from which they originate. 

Click "read more" to expand fields with lengthier information, and "close" to collapse them.

Text in grey indicates that the field links to another record.

The following features are unique to records from a particular collection:

Archival Records 

Archival collections and fonds consist of series, sub-series, files and item descriptions. There may be catalogue records for each of these levels depending on how the collection has been arranged and described.

The archival hierarchy appears under Collection Contents at the bottom of each fonds, series, sub-series and file record.

The archival hierarchy demonstrates where a series, file or item is located contextually within an archival collection or fonds.

In the case of records for archival collections or fonds, the hierarchy demonstrates the content that comprises it, and how it has been organized.

By default, the archival hierarchy is open. Click the + button to collapse a given level.

Click the name of a series, file or item to retrieve the relevant catalogue record.

Digitized items appear as thumbnails linking to item-level records contained within the series or file.

Archival item-level records include a "Location in Collection" breadcrumb trail to navigate back to the series or file level of a collections or fonds.

To navigate through digitized item-level records in a particular series or file use the Previous and Next buttons to left and right of the record.

Testimony Records 

Testimony records are for audio-visual material and may provide access to short audio or video clips.

Clips appear as thumbnails under the main image. Click to open the media viewer and play the video.

On the right-hand side of the catalogue record, users may access a time-coded summary of the testimony if one is available. The time-coded summary may be downloaded as a searchable PDF file. A time-coded summary is a detailed summary of the video testimony with time codes marked every two to five minutes to enable users to easily locate segments within the testimony recording. These summaries are not transcripts and are intended only as a tool to assist the viewer to navigate through the testimony. They are not intended as a substitute for watching the original material. 

Not all testimonies in the collection are available online. Please contact staff to inquire about viewing a full-length recording.

Library Records 

The library collection contains both item and component records.

Item records contain the bibliographic information for an item (title, author, date of publication, etc.).

Component records are used for multiple copies, volumes that comprise a multi-volume set, and the individual parts of education kits and book sets.

Click "Find or Request this Item" to access information about component items and see if the item is available or to request it.

Click on the title of the component (e.g.: The era of the witness [copy 1]) to view more details. Use the back button of the browser or click "Find or Request this Item" to return to the item (parent) record.

To the right of the "Find or Request this Item" drop-down box you will see the status of the item: Available, Checked out (with due date), In-library use only and Unavailable. Click on the status and complete the pop-up form to request an item. All items, including those with unavailable status, can be requested.

The Access Points panel on the records for library items include both local subjects and Library of Congress Subject Headings. Clicking on a Library of Congress Subject Heading will return only records from the library with the same subject term.

Museum Records 

Artefacts included in the archival collections or fonds may be catalogued using museum works metadata description, which is different from catalogue records created for archival items. Click on Part of [title of series or file] to view the series- or file-level records and the archival hierarchy. If the museum work is part of an archival collection or fonds, the name of the series or file will also appear in the Related Holdings tab.

Records for artefacts that have multiple or compound parts are linked by clicking on the title of a museum work in the Compound works field on the right of the record.

Transcriptions, transliterations and translations are added to records in the Auxiliary Document field and can be viewed or downloaded as PDF files.

Auxiliary Records

Your search may also retrieve records that are not for objects in our collections but records which are related to them, specifically those for:

  • Entities: individuals, families or organizations;
  • Historical events;
  • Institutional events: exhibition openings, book launches, memorial events;
  • Exhibitions: records of past exhibitions produced by the VHEC;
  • Places.

The layout of these records is similar to those of the object records with images, maps and descriptions.

Related Holdings, People & Organizations, Places, Events & Exhibitions and Collections are found at the bottom of the record.


Click the "Galleries" tab on the top menu bar to explore galleries created by staff.

There are three types of galleries: Themes, Timelines and Featured. Click on one of the tiles to view galleries of that type.

Themes present curated sets of items related to a particular subject. Timelines present curated groups of items as they were created over time. Featured highlights groups of items gathered for a non-subject-related purpose, such as recently digitized, book lists, or new acquisitions.

Galleries are displayed horizontally, with the most recently created gallery displayed first. You can scroll right to view older galleries.

Click "View Gallery" to view a full description and items included in the gallery.

Scroll through items in a gallery using the arrows on the right and left sides of the image. A caption about the item is on the right.

To view the full catalogue record for an item, click "View Record."


Download a PDF Lightbox User Guide with screenshots here.

Only registered users can access the Lightbox feature.

Only item-level records can be added to the Lightbox (archival items, museum works, library items and testimonies).

Archival collections or fonds (including series-, sub-series- and file-level records) cannot be added.

To access the Lightbox feature, click the person icon and select Lightbox from the menu. All of your previous Lightboxes are saved here. The Activity Stream shows changes and comments to any of your Lightboxes or collaborative Lightboxes shared with other users.

To create a new Lightbox click the cog icon to open the menu. Name your Lightbox and add a description. Click save.

Add items to your Lightbox by clicking on the suitcase icon that appears directly under the image of a record.

Select the Lightbox to which the item should be added.

If you haven't already created a Lightbox or would like to create a new one, you can do so from this screen.

Items may also be added from the search or browse results page by hovering over the tiles on the results page and clicking the suitcase or clicking the cog icon at the top of the results page and selecting "Add all" or selected results.

Filter items in a Lightbox using the facets on the right of the screen.

Change how items in a Lightbox are displayed by clicking on the gallery and list icons in the top right corner of the screen.

If museum works and archival items in your Lightbox are associated with a geographical location, you can view them on a map. To access this map, open your Lightbox and click on the globe icon at the top right corner of the screen. Once the map appears, you can click on the red location markers to reveal descriptions of the associated items.

Items in a Lightbox can also be viewed on a timeline according to the item's date of creation. To access the timeline, open the Lightbox and click on the clock icon at the top right corner of the screen. Once the timeline appears, you can navigate through the items on the timeline by clicking the arrows on the screen. You can also click on the item name to reveal its description and date of creation.

Click the cog icon alongside the title of the Lightbox to sort items in a Lightbox, edit the name or description of the Lightbox and to view all of your Lightboxes. 

Lightboxes also allow for collaboration among registered users. Click "Share Lightbox" in the menu to allow individuals or groups access to your Lightbox. You can specify "Can Read" or "Can Edit" permissions for what you share.

If you have permission to access the Lightbox of another user, you can comment on their Lightbox.

You can make comments on a specific item in the Lightbox by hovering over the item and clicking the speech bubble.

Changes or comments you make within a Lightbox will not alter the original catalogue record in any way. Comments can only be viewed by registered users with access to that Lightbox.

Users can create web-based slide shows of items in their Lightbox by clicking "Start Presentation" from the cog icon.