A primary obligation for a museum is the duty of care for its collections. Amongst other responsibilities this requires the museum to manage its collections, keep track of its objects, ensure they are well maintained, securely stored, properly insured and appropriately accessible. EMu facilitates this duty of care through collection management processes and tools designed in compliance with the Collections Trust's Spectrum standard for museum documentation.
The Spectrum standard is recognised internationally as the industry standard for Collections Management. Spectrum is a guide to good practice for museum documentation and contains procedures for documenting objects and the processes they undergo. EMu is fully compliant with the latest version of this standard.
Standards are the foundation on which EMu is built, but they are simply that, the foundation. Working hand in hand with museum professionals, EMu's developers have produced a full-featured collections management system with functionality that far exceeds anything described by even the most comprehensive standards.
Administration of your objects is handled with a suite of Spectrum compliant collection management modules that directly reference objects in your Catalogue. When an object is on loan, for example, a Loans record captures details of the loan and references all objects affected by the loan: authorised users viewing the object’s record in the Catalogue will see that it is on loan. From the object's Catalogue record it is then a simple matter to access full details about the loan (or from the Loan's record to identify which objects are covered by the loan).
EMu documents the arrival of objects at your institution, some or all of which may ultimately be accepted into the collection and thus fully catalogued. An Accession Lots record is created for new acquisitions such as purchases, gifts and bequests; it documents a summary of the objects in the Lot and can be used to schedule acquisition meetings to accept or reject each object. Details that can be captured include a purchase price for an acquisition, date of receipt, accession numbers for objects (which can be automatically assigned by EMu) and any rights and restrictions over the objects.
Deaccessioning an object results in the object’s logical removal from the collection: for most users the object will appear to have been removed from the Catalogue. Authorised users however are able to retrieve deaccessioned object records, allowing audits of deaccessioned objects to be undertaken. Deaccession details include the date of deaccession, a reason for deaccession (lost, stolen, destroyed, etc.), terms and conditions of the deaccession, and authorisation details.
EMu manages your incoming and outgoing loans, capturing details such as the borrower, objects loaned, start and end dates, approvals, and associated costs. Loan documentation, including a loan agreement form, can be generated from within EMu and can even be scanned and attached to the loan record as a permanent soft copy of the signed agreement.
EMu manages and tracks the shipment of objects into or out of a museum whether in response to incoming or outgoing loans and object returns, movements between campuses of a museum, external conservation work, receipt of donations, etc. Details captured for the movement of an object include the purpose of the movement, authorisation, location to / from which an object is being moved, date of the movement, courier, consignment details, customs broker, insurance policy, any special handling or packing instructions, associated costs and confirmation of receipt.
Shipment documents, including packing slips and receipts on arrival / request to dispatch, can be generated from within EMu.
EMu tracks the location and movement of objects within a museum. When an object is moved from one internal location to another it is updated with the new location, the date, time and staff involved. A history of all movements for each object is maintained. EMu supports both fixed and moveable locations. Fixed locations are used to document all of the places in which objects may be located. They can be specified in a hierarchical fashion, for example, building-floor-section-room-cabinet-shelf. A moveable location, a Solander box for example, is located in a fixed location, such as a cabinet within a room. When the Solander box is relocated from one cabinet to another, the location of all objects stored in the Solander box is automatically updated.
Details, such as location codes, barcodes, dimensions and other location characteristics, can also be recorded.
EMu allows users to find and report on objects stored at any location or on any level of a location hierarchy.
The value of an object, the date of its valuation, the valuing authority and the next scheduled valuation are documented in EMu, with a history of valuation information automatically maintained. It is possible to:
- Set a regular valuation interval frequency (in years or months).
- Set a specific date for the next valuation.
- Receive a notification report when the next valuation is due.
For security reasons, it is common to restrict access to an object's valuation details to valuation staff and management.
Insurance policies and related information for objects covered by insurance and other forms of indemnity are all captured in EMu. Details include a policy number, insurance company or indemnifying organisation, assessor, date of assessment, total value covered, renewal date and a history of all claims. Insurance details can also be recorded for individual transactions such as loans, external movements and exhibitions.
Information about the ownership or other rights or copyright provisions pertaining to one or more objects is captured and maintained in EMu. Details could be:
- Copyright holder and conditions.
- Acknowledgement required.
- Restriction of use.
- Special conditions which apply to the display, uses and copying of objects.
- Reproduction restrictions.
- Details of reproductions of objects, including costs and fees collected.
EMu's auditing facility tracks every activity in any or all modules. An audit trail record is generated for activities such as:
- change - record insertion, update or deletion
- search - query records
- display - view, sort or report on a record
- login - access to the module
- all - any event associated with the module
Audit trail records are loaded into the Audit Trails module where users with the appropriate permissions can view them and perform analyses as required. They include the date, time, username, operation type, record type and key number for all database actions. The audit facility also provides an archiving tool that allows all audit records to be saved in a file on a daily basis for archival purposes or for use as raw data to load into another system. Reports enable administrators to produce audit listings detailing changes made on a per user basis. Every module in EMu has an Audit tab that displays a listing of all audit trail records concerning the current record. The listing provides a convenient mechanism for determining all changes to, and uses of, a record.
A feature of the auditing facility is the ability to restore a record to the values it contained at a particular date and time.
Collection management processes
Collection management processes frequently entail interactions between the collection management modules: a loan being raised for an exhibition, for example; shipment of objects in response to a loan; or insurance policies for individual loans and shipments. In this case the various modules directly reference each other. As all management records are held in perpetuity a complete history of transactions is maintained by EMu and can be viewed by authorised users.
Integrated task management
EMu’s sophisticated task management capabilities allow you to specify your institution’s various processes and assign steps to individual staff members, together with commencement and completion dates. EMu has in-built email notification to alert users to pending and overdue tasks assigned to them. Due and overdue process dates and other critical dates, such as loan returns, are identified each night and a To Do List is emailed to relevant staff.
For each affected staff member EMu also builds a web page of their To Do List for the entire, rolling week, and can produce a calendar of their activities in a standard calendar format.