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Documentation and Cataloging

Recommended Resources for Assessing and Selecting Collections Management Software (CMS)

History Associates 

History Associates, an exhibits development company, shares a list of resources to help museums choose the best collections management software systems.

Documenting Museum Collections

National Park Service

The National Park Service’s Museum Handbook (PDF) has a 13-page chapter that discusses protection of collections records. It lists common threats and preventive actions. It also details the requirements for the cabinets and rooms where paper records and computer media are stored (PDF pages 9-12).

Inventory and Other Special Instructions

National Park Service

The National Park Service’s (NPS) Museum Handbook (PDF) has a 73-page chapter that addresses several collection management issues including inventory.

Cataloging Costs

National Park Service

The National Park Service’s (NPS) Museum Handbook (PDF) has a series of appendices related to cataloging. All appendices are PDFs. Appendix B (8 pages) provides guidelines for estimating the cost of cataloging and provides charts with actual average costs incurred by the NPS for 1997, 1998, and 1999.

Cataloging Guidelines

National Park Service

The National Park Service’s (NPS) Museum Handbook (PDF) has cataloging guidelines for describing objects and their condition, measuring and weighing objects, and cataloging pairs and parts of a set.

Lot Cataloging

National Park Service

The National Park Service’s (NPS) Museum Handbook (PDF) has a section discusses lot cataloging, which is frequently used with archeology and natural history collections. It includes sample completed catalog records.

Cataloging

National Park Service

The National Park Service’s (NPS) Museum Handbook (PDF) has a chapter on cataloging. The 41-page chapter discusses cataloging procedures, including numbering, data fields specific to different disciplines, and a list of the types of documents that should be placed in an object file. It also has sample completed catalog records for archeology, ethnology, history, archival/manuscript, biology, geology, paleontology, and natural history objects.

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