Beyond the Index Cards – Documenting Documentation

Documenting what you did and why will help your future self.

Collection work is more than just storage and object information in a database. Sometimes we only realize how much more there is when important people leave or when we have to painfully puzzle together different information to answer simple questions.

Just imagine 20/50/80 years ago one of your predecessors had documented what they did, why they did it and how they did it. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to understand where this object numbering system comes from, who meticulously documented that part of the collection on index cards or where that part of the collection was stored over the years.

Over the next weeks I want to post some questions you might want to answer for yourself. Think of what all the people coming after you might want to know about your collection work.

These topics will be part of the questionnaire:

1. Overview

2. History of the Collection

3. Collecting and Collection Criteria

4. Documentation and Documentation Criteria

5. Digitisation and Object Photography

6. How the Collection is used

7. Storage and Conservation

8. Plans and Future Developments

Stay tuned!

Maria Scherrers

Maria Scherrers is museum specialist with degrees from HTW Berlin and the University of Leicester. She spent most of her working life so far in company museums and collections. She is fascinated by the way our everyday life is changed by brands and how that influences our cultural history and what we will be collecting in the future. In the mean time she is a consultant for company that wish to build and use historic product collections.
She spends her little free time on her family and on politics.
www.historicalassetmanagement.de

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This post is also available in: German

2 comments

  1. Alicia Woods says:

    I am the first collections manager for the agency I work for. My entire career revolves around trying to reconcile Deeds of Gift, Loans, Transfers, etc., from as long as 102 years ago. This is always on my mind and everything I do, including writing our Collections Program Best Practices Manual is making sure that standards we put in place today are relevant, meaningful, and carefully explained as well as carried on. Obviously as laws and standards change, our practice will too, but it is my job to make sure we move forward with all of these things in mind for the future and those that come after us. Leaving the statewide collection better organized, more concise, healthier, meaningful/significant, and relevant is our main focus in this program. Looking forward to seeing more on this topic!

  2. Evelyn Fidler says:

    Thanks for posting this! I saw a link to it on twitter last night and wondered how to follow the discussion.

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