Keeping essential records and data in order is one of the building blocks of success in the areas such as research, public services, and management of various collections (Roberts 31). The introduction of information technology into most of the areas has allowed incorporating the corresponding guidelines into the set of principles for museum information management. For instance, the options for inventory control and cataloging have been expanded.
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Acquisitions, Long-Term Loans, and Accessioning
The suggestion of considering the elements borrowed in the long term as a single unit has simplified the process of keeping track of the loans to a considerable extent. Furthermore, the use of an accession register should be viewed as a necessity to make sure that every loan should be returned to the museum promptly (Roberts 31).
Inventory Control and Cataloging
The control and cataloging of inventory are typically viewed as the second stage of the documentation arrangement. Because of the large number of uses that each item has, it needs to be categorized accordingly. An elaborate taxonomy can be sustained with the help of the AFRICOM standard, which implies that the description, management, its history, and documentation should be viewed as the essential characteristics (Roberts 33).
Object Numbering, Labelling, and Marking
Numbering each object is crucial to keeping the order of the museum items intact. Apart from a simple enumeration of each art piece, providing the latter with unique accession numbers is also viewed as a crucial step. As a result, the objects that were numbered identically in different areas of the museum can remain unique due to their accession numbers. An excavated object can also be attributed with its excavation date, whereas for an art piece comprised of several elements, each must be provided with a unique number (Roberts 35).
Location and Movement Control
Tracing the alterations in the location of an art object is imperative for its further identification. As a rule, two fields need to be filled in, i.e., the current and the normal one. The latter implies the location with which the art piece in question has been assigned in accordance to the catalog, whereas the current location is a self-explanatory notion. Apart from keeping regular records about the change of the object location, one should also make sure that the data retrieved in the process should be kept private (Roberts 36).
Conservation Information and Condition Reports
The relevant information about the object conservation should be provided in the catalog. However, as soon as the amount of information about a particular item is large enough, it is strongly suggested to contain it in a separate file. The same principle applies to condition reports. To be more accurate, the condition and the date of introducing the art piece to the collection must be mentioned (Roberts 39).
Deaccessioning and Disposal
The process of withdrawing the item from a particular collection needs to be documented in the records appropriately. Furthermore, it is imperative to make sure that the data about the art piece should be kept intact so that the museum representatives could be able to determine whether the object is taken proper care of (Roberts 39).
Backlog Accessioning, Inventory Control, and Cataloging
The older the museum is, the higher the possibility of finding an incomplete collection and missing art pieces will be. To prevent similar problems in the future, the members of the museum should consider creating a backlog, which will reflect all changes made to a particular collection or an item. As a result, the threat of losing it will be reduced significantly. In case of noticeable gaps in the catalog, it is strongly suggested to make new records (Roberts 39).
Manual and Computer-Based Cataloging and Retrieval
The process of recording data can be carried out manually or with the help of computer software. As far as the manual process is concerned, it is advised to create cards that will contain essential data. The digital format, in its turn, offers more flexible opportunities for data storage (Roberts 40).
Photographic images and the pictures related to a particular art object can be stored in a digital format (TIFF or JPEG). Although the electronic format is preferable, the printed one is more common (Roberts 44).
Web Access to the Information About the Collection
With the introduction of the digital system of records, a museum opens opportunities for people to visit it online. Therefore, creating a Web application that will help attract the target audience and entice them with what the museum has to offer should be viewed as a possibility (Roberts 44).
Staff and Financial Resources
It should be borne in mind that the subject matter requires keeping regular records. Therefore, investing in the staff that will be able to develop and improve their skills in information management is crucial to success. Besides, the expenses required to build a vast database and purchase the necessary hardware must be taken into account when determining the costs of the project (Roberts 45).
Roberts, Andrew. “Inventories and Documentation.” Running a Museum: A Practical Handbook. Kirkland, WA: ICOM, 2004. 31-50. Print.