What’s In Store? A new programme to help tackle documentation backlogs

Collections Trust, in partnership with MDNW, has developed a programme for North West museums to support those struggling to resolve their documentation backlogs.

Accredited museums must have a plan to resolve their documentation backlogs (requirement 2.5). As well as best practice, documentation planning helps museums improve and enhance their records and focus resources, so that their collections can contribute to different engagement activities.

However we know that museums sometimes find this requirement confusing, for example what counts as a documentation backlog for Accreditation?

A strategic aim for Collections Trust is to ‘…work in partnership with other sector bodies to reduce significantly the number of UK museums without an appropriate inventory of their holdings.’

We have developed this pilot programme, ‘What’s In Store?’, with Museum Development North West, to work with a group of museums to develop appropriate documentation plans and get to grips with their backlogs.

The improved Inventory procedure in SPECTRUM 5.0, to be launched soon, has been developed to help museums identify and resolve their backlogs, making the requirements for Accreditation much clearer. In this programme, we will explore the minimum level of inventory information needed for each object (or group of objects), to ensure accountability. This minimum information also helps museums mitigate risks, including security, ethical and legal risks.

In our first workshop Sarah Brown, Outreach Officer for Collections Trust, will introduce the new SPECTRUM 5.0 Inventory and Documentation Planning (previously Retrospective Documentation) procedures, and together we will identify priorities and actions for each organisation, offering support over summer 2017 to work on these. This support will take the form of remote mentoring and advice – for example your organisation might seek support to develop an appropriate documentation plan, improve the implementation of documentation procedures or work on your procedural manual.

The group will come back together in December 2017 to discuss progress, next steps and potential further support from Museum Development and Collections Trust.

The programme is for up to eight Accredited museums, able to commit to the programme as outlined below.

Outline programme:

  • 8th June 2017, 2.00pm-5.00pm, Lancashire Conservation Studios, Preston. An introductory workshop, to develop priorities and actions.
  • Summer 2017 – Mentoring support from Collections Trust, to work on actions set at initial workshop.
  • 1st December 2017, 10.00am-4.00pm, Lancashire Conservation Studios, Preston. A follow-up workshop to discuss progress and next steps.

If you wish to participate in the programme, please complete the ‘What’s In Store?’ Expression of Interest Form and return it to Kaye Hardyman  Museum Development Officer for MDNW by the 12th May 2017.



  1. Dee Weaver

    I sent an email but got a notification to say that something had gone wrong and suggested I comment here.
    I’m a volunteer with Calderdale Industrial Museum Association (CIMA), working on the accreditation process.
    Recently, the local authority handed over control of the Industrial Museum here in Halifax to CIMA, a group of around 70 volunteers and 150 members. The museum was closed down seventeen years ago, although most of the collection is still in place. After five years of negotiating, the council finally gave us the keys and now we are on a steep learning curve and are starting from scratch – with some help from the local Museums Service – to assemble all the documentation involved in running a museum. We believe this programme would be very helpful for us; however, technically, we’re not in the North West, being just over the border in Calderdale, and we’re not yet accredited, although we do have Working Towards status. Can you tell me if we would be eligible to attend?
    Thank you,
    Dee Weaver
    CIMA Accreditation Group

    • museumdevelopmentnorthwest

      Hi Dee, thanks for your interest in the programme. We only have 8 places available and our priority will be for museums in the North West. What I will do is pt you on the reserve list and let you know nearer the time if there is a space available for you on the programme. Collections Trust have developed this programme with us as a pilot so there may be opportunities in your region through Museums Development Yorkshire. You could get in touch with them and ask if they are planning to repeat the programme for Yorkshire museums. If you could send me an email with your expression of interest I will definitely be in touch to let you know if a space is available: kaye.hardyman@manchester.ac.uk
      best wishes,

  2. Dee Weaver

    Hi Kaye, and thanks for your reply which I’ve only just found. I’ll contact Alan Bentley at YMT to see if there are any plans to do the programme here, and if not, will email you to go on your waiting list.
    Hope it goes well,
    Best wishes,

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