Accession Number: An accession number is a unique number assigned by a museum to an item in a specific collection. There are a few different ways museums approach this system including: running numbers (1, 2, 3), year of accession followed by running numbers (2020.1, 2020.2), or year of accession followed by running number and number indicating its place in a larger acquisition (2020.1.1, 2020.1.2).

Agents of Deterioration: Agents of deterioration are what many consider the main potential threats to the preservation process and collections of museums and other organizations with archives. Preventative measures are often taken against these agents. Some of these agents include: fire, water, pollutants, pests, and criminal activity. See the Collections Management page for more details. 

American Association of State and Local History (AASLH): The AASLH provides support and resources for history professionals through offering professional development opportunities, publications and research. See the Professional Organizations and Publications page for details.

Best Practices: Best practices in museums are the implementation of guidelines for ethics and standards put forth by leading professional organizations in the field to ensure the effectiveness of museums and to hold them accountable for the stewardship of their collections. As each museum is unique, best practices are adaptable and not hard rules to be followed. See the American Alliance of Museums’ examples of best practices on the Administration and Outreach pages.

Collection Management System: Collection Management Systems are softwares used by museums and other collecting institutions to organize, manage, and increase ease of engagement with their collections. The use of metadata and controlled vocabularies are key to optimal functioning. 

Controlled Vocabulary: Often associated with metadata, a controlled vocabulary is a standardized set of terms that provides consistency to the documentation of large amounts of information. While controlled vocabularies increase the ease of searching for specific information, they often are unable to capture the nuances surrounding specific items. 

Metadata: In its most general terms, metadata is defined as data that gives information about other data. In a museum setting, it is most clearly seen when cataloging archives. For example, the accession number, dates, provenance, item category, and affiliated persons are all types of metadata as they give information about an artifact. Metadata is often, but not always, structured and uses a controlled vocabulary.

Scope of Collections Statement (SOCS): A Scope of Collections Statement is a document that captures the purpose of a museum in relation to its collections and the composition of those collections. Often living documents, they include a mission statement, requirements for further acquisitions, a summary of collections, and conditions surrounding the use of collections in varying levels of detail. Many Scope of Collections Statements often follow similar formats, but each is unique to its institution’s needs. See the Administration page for an example.