It is the policy of the Spurlock Museum to maintain accurate tracking of objects in each of its collections in accordance with professional standards and practices to the best of its ability given the staff, time, and resources available.
The goal of inventory is to physically verify the presence or absence of objects and update the existing database records regarding the location of objects within a specified group within a specified time frame. Inventory must include the physical verification of the presence or absence of an object in its recorded current location, the documentation of the findings, and reconciliation of any discrepancies. Documentation of the findings includes recording whether objects are found or not found in the current listed location in the object's database record. Discrepancies are addressed and resolved if possible. Corrections as well as an explanation of any discrepancies that cannot be resolved are documented in the relevant records. For expediency, efficiency, and accuracy, other steps or processes should not be added to the inventory process.
The Artifact Collection is inventoried at a minimum of once every ten years. Parts of the Artifact Collection are inventoried more frequently depending on priorities and needs.
The Teaching Collection is inventoried at a minimum of once every three years.
The Library Collection is inventoried at a minimum of once every five years.
The Props and Furnishings Collection is inventoried at a minimum of once every five years.
The Documentary Multimedia Collection is inventoried at a minimum of once every five years to commence after the completion of the initial cataloguing of all un-numbered physical images.
In addition, an inventory of all objects on exhibit in all Museum galleries will be completed annually each fall semester.
Responsibilities for Inventory
The Registration Section is responsible for the inventory of all objects in all of the Museum's collections (whether on exhibit, in storage or on loan) and maintaining current and accurate locations of objects in the collections databases. The Assistant Registrar for Collections is the primary and key Registration staff responsible for implementing inventories of collections. Access to objects for inventory purposes must be coordinated between the Assistant Registrar for Collections, Education staff, and Collections Management staff. The Assistant Registrar for Acquisitions is the primary Registration staff working with the Collections Management staff to implement inventories of all packed shipments of objects entering the Museum for loan or for acquisition and of objects departing the Museum for deaccession or for return to lenders and donors.
Prior to performing an inventory, the purpose of the inventory and the group of objects to be inventoried needs to be clearly identified. Inventories may be performed on a group by category (e.g., Pueblo pots, coins, etc.) to check that all objects are present and accounted for as needed for a special project such as a scholar's research project. Inventories may be done on select groups of objects by storage area if it is suspected that location changes have been incorrectly entered or if there are discrepancies between the paperwork and physical locations of the objects in that storage area or objects in that area have been moved multiple times in a short period of time. Inventories are also performed when sending or receiving a shipment of objects to ensure that the Museum is not held accountable for an object that is stolen, lost, or damaged during transport.
Inventory is performed within a pre-selected and specific period of time. During this time objects that are the subject of the inventory may not be moved from one location to another.
Although there is no single standard inventory form, there are standards for the type of information needed and how information is organized on inventory forms. Inventory forms are produced using database reports and edited slightly as needed for each inventory project. The data is organized by storage location and usually sorted by accession number within each storage location. Forms include this information as well as other information to assist in identifying the object, such as name and image of each object. There is space for the individual performing the inventory to record their findings, including whether the object is present or missing in the specified location and comments for each object. Space is also provided to list any other objects found in that location that were not on the database report inventory form. Finally there is space to record the action steps of the inventory process including the persons responsible for: performing physical inventory check; entering the results in the database; and checking of the data entry. A space for the date each action was completed is also included.
The inventory process includes the physical verification of the presence or absence of each object listed as well as any additional objects found in the location being inventoried. The accession number found on the object or on an attached label is checked to verify it correlates with the number, name, and image on the inventory sheet. If the object is in a sealed case that cannot be opened for the purposes of the inventory, the object is verified by matching the name and image only with the object. Those performing inventory must be cautious in identifying each part of any objects that consist of multiple parts and not to assume all parts are present. If the physical number on an object is illegible, a note is made on the inventory form for later correction. As always, if signs of damage or infestation are noticed, the Collections Manager and Registrar are contacted as soon as possible and the situation is noted on the inventory form under "Comments." After each location or group is checked, missing objects are identified and attempts are made to find them; such efforts must be completed within the time period of the inventory. If objects cannot be found during this time the current location and inventory history database fields are edited to indicate that they could not be found on the inventory date.
Results are entered into the objects' corresponding database records as soon as possible after the physical inventory.
Inventory of shipments will vary slightly and adjustments to inventory procedure may be made accordingly. For example, new objects will not have been assigned incoming numbers so the individual completing the inventory will have to rely on the description or the donor's numbering system, and the inventory list used will usually be a list created by the donor or other non-Museum staff.