Course:2: Acquiring Your Collections
Lesson:Lesson 5: Accessioning--What Do You Have and Where Is It?
Topic:Doing the Paperwork



Doing the Paperwork 

What Do We Have and Where Is It?

Now you can begin recording information about each accession using an accession form. This form provides inventory control over the holdings by:  

  • Noting where each accession is located
  • Describing the content of the records and thus providing a temporary way for researchers and staff to find what they are looking for

What to Include

The form should include these elements for each accession:

Accession number
Assign a unique number to each accession. Using this accession number, records are recognized, physically located, and tracked in storage. Accession numbers are often based on the year followed by a simple sequential numbering system. For the year 2003, the first accession would be numbered 2003-001; the second accession 2003-002, and so on. 

Title of collection
Provide a descriptive title for the records you are accessioning. 

Name (and address) of the source of the collection/donor
You can get this information from the transfer documentation, if you aren't already aware of it.

The date the collection was accessioned
This is not the date from the transfer document, but the date that you are filling out the form.

Amount of material
How many boxes, books, etc. are there?

A description of the materials
Write a sentence or two describing the content of the material and its characteristics.

Comments about restrictions to the materials
If the materials are restricted, this should be noted along with a description of the restriction--how long does the restriction last? Are there particular people who can look at the records?

The location where the records will be stored
Use a standard way of noting where the records are stored such as a shelf location, box numbers, etc. Give enough information so that the records can be found easily.

Some programs use individual forms to record this information; others use notebooks; and others use database programs. Notebooks (also called logs) and databases assure that all the accession records are kept together. Accession forms enable you to create files for each of your collections. The method you use isn't as important as making sure that you keep good records.

We'll talk more about recordkeeping and documentation in the next lesson.

Accession record
Your organization should use a consistent accession form to provide inventory control over your acquisitions.

Inventory control
You may choose to use a database tool for tracking.

 Resources icon

A sample accession form is available here for download. To view the form, click here.