Unmanaged Collections – Final Adjustments


Maybe you wonder how the book project about managing unmanaged collections is going. Well, last week I got the proofs from the production editor so at the moment I spend much of my free time proof reading. I contacted all the contributors so they can check their real-world examples and photo attributions and add their corrections.

In addition I’m creating the index which is not as easy as I thought. My assumption was that I more of less type a search term, let the computer scan the document, note the pages where the search term does appear and that’s that. Now I realized it doesn’t work that way. My experience with museum documentation could have told me that it doesn’t work that way… Here’s why:

Let’s say someone wonders if there is something about “deaccessioning” in the book. Well, there are a lot of pages where I talk about making decisions what to keep in the collection and what not, but chances are I did not use the term “deaccessioning” on those pages. Of course, the computer would skip those pages. So, as I read through the page proofs I take notes of keywords I think would make sense in an index and write down the page numbers.

I do this on outdated business cards, which I haven’t thrown away because you never know when you need a set of small but sturdy cards of the same size. Well, now, about 10 years after they became outdated they finally found their new purpose. I sort the keywords in alphabetical order so when I come across a term I already noted I can find it quick and add the next page number. I decided to collect broad, write down whatever I think might be helpful instead of being too restrictive. I will decide on the terms that will finally make it to the index at the end of the process. While “deaccessioning”, “collections policy” or “cataloging” will definitely make it to the final index, I’m not that sure about “Grandmother’s Fixes“, “upper management, dealing with” or “numbers, spellbound by”.

What is really interesting is that these cards even now show somehing like a topography of that book. “Hazards” seems to be the most important topic, with 12 mentionings thus far and I’m only half way through. Well, let’s see if it will stay that way. Onward! I have to meet that deadline so this book can be out in May.


This post is also available in Russian translated by Helena Tomashevskaya.


4 thoughts on “Unmanaged Collections – Final Adjustments”

    1. Thanks. I really hope you like it. I feel a special obligation to the readers of this blog as you all supported this project with your comments and support!

  1. Angela, I’m afraid that “numbers, spellbound by” will have to stay. Although perhaps “confounded by” or “bamfoozled by” or “head-scratchingly befuddled by” might also work. Good luck with the “process, unforeseen complications thereof!”

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