Computerizing your collections records is something every museum, library, historical society, archives, or manuscript TL 216-1repository should do in the 21st century, but not on a whim. Automation requires a lot of homework and a lot of thought from beginning to end. This technical leaflet is meant to lead you the decision-making steps that will eventually give you all the information you ever wanted to know about your collections at your fingertips.

The authors are all associated with historical organizations— two with museum collections and two with archival collections— but have tried to make the information included here as broadly applicable as possible. Every institution has unique collections and information needs, so you will have to adapt steps based on your needs, size, and available resources. It will be up to you to decide which steps apply to you—and on scale. This technical leaflet is broadly divided into three sections: Planning, Choosing Software and Hardware, and Data Entry. These topics are interrelated but roughly follow each other in the automation process.

Technical Leaflet #217 (2002)