Acquisitions Needs

August 30, 2007

At the Kansas Historical Society, several years ago we developed some fairly detailed specifications for what we wanted and needed from an archival acquisitions system. As part of recent discussions about a planned Archon acquisitions module, we dusted off those specs, stripped out a lot of institution-specific detail, and are herewith posting them for review and comment.

The Acquisitions module is intended to cover all materials added to our collections, whether received via purchase, loan, donation, or legal deposit, from the time we first learn of the item through receipt, legal accession, and assignment of preliminary location.

Major Tasks

  • Gathering leads
  • Selection of materials to be pursued
  • Donor contacts and solicitations
  • Receipt of Materials
  • Payment, where required
  • Preparation of preliminary descriptions
  • Appraisal of content/usefulness/appropriateness for collection
  • Preparation of legal documentation
  • Disposal of unwanted materials
  • Assignment of preliminary location


Pre-Accession Workflow

Pre-Accession Workflow
Post-Receipt Processing

Business Events

Item of Interest Comes to Staff Attention

The staff records author, title, description, reason for interest (e.g., Kansas connection), source of information, and source of possible acquisition in a PotentialAcquisiton table

Staff Decides to Solicit Donation/Loan

For each potential donation, the system generates a letter, based on a template, soliciting a donation or loan.

Staff Decides to Purchase

Notation made in database and bookkeeping staff notified.

Unsolicited Material Received

Acquisitions staff shall enter the date of receipt, donor name(s) and address(es), accessioning instructions (such as what to do with unwanted materials), and basic descriptions of materials received, and forward it all to collections curator for appraisal.

Receipts are issued for materials delivered in person.

If appraisal is needed, the item description is in the PotentialAcquisition table. No information is entered in Collection prior to acceptance of the materials into the collection.

Solicited Material Received

Acquistions staff will enter date_received, confirm and if necessary correct existing information (donor name/address, title of material, etc.) in the Accessions and either the PotentialAcquisition or Collection tables, and forward to collections curator. A receipt is issued for materials received in-person. Bookkeeping staff will be notified of materials requiring payment.

State Archives Materials Received

Staff completes a Temporary Receipt/Accession Worksheet at the time the materials are picked up. A copy is given to the records custodian.

Material Received on Approval

These materials are treated the same as donations requiring appraisal.

Appraisal Required

Staff records who is going to be doing the appraisal, the timeframes, current location of the materials, etc.

Accession Accepted

Acquisitions staff enters type of accession (e.g., Loan, Donation, Purchase, Archives Receipt, Intra-Divisional Transfer, or Accretion). The system generates the appropriate paperwork, which may include a Deed of Gift, Lending Agreement, Letter of Acknowledgement, and/or State Archives Transfer Form.

Potential Accession Declined

System generates letter. Staff documents disposition of materials in accordance with owner’s wishes (return, transfer to another institution, destruction, etc.).

Legal Document Sent

When any Legal Document (e.g., Deed of Gift) is printed, a copy of the document’s contents, including the description, restrictions, and quantity of the accession, is archived in the LegalDocument table, along with the date and the current user’s ID. Thus, we have a record of our description of the potential accession as it existed on the date of the document, regardless of future changes to that description.

Legal Document Returned

Staff records return of signed Deed of Gift, Lending Agreement, etc.

Legal Document Not Returned

If the first copy of the Deed of Gift or other document is not returned within a reasonable period of time, staff may send a second or subsequent copy. Any changes to the information on the document, such as address changes or changes in the description of the materials, may be made by the staff prior to sending the deed again. The revised information is captured again in LegalDocument.

Accession Completed

Staff click a checkbox to record that the accession is completed (legal paperwork returned, payment sent, etc.). The system then verifies that all of the appropriate information has been recorded, and transfers the information from PotentialAcquisition to the Collections table.

Loan Completed

Staff shall enter the date returned, the method of return, and to whom and by whom returned in IncomingLoanAdministration.

Assignment of Temporary Location and Cataloger

These assignments may occur at any point prior to or at the time the Accession transaction is completed, and may change during the process. The cataloger name is not mandatory.

Reports Required

  • Volume of Materials Accessioned: For each repository, a summary of the quantity of materials received by each acquisition type within a given timeframe.
  • List of Donors and Donations: A list of all donations received within a given timeframe, including the donor’s name(s), the city and state of residence, the title(s) of each item included, and the quantity of materials received.
  • New Book List: List of all newly-accessioned materials received in an arbitrary timespan, including title, creator, description, etc.
  • Deeds of Gift and Lending Agreements Overdue: A list of all donations/loans for which the appropriate paperwork has not been returned by the donor/lender.
  • Loans Outstanding: A list of all loans wherein the materials have been received at the repository but not yet returned. The list shall include: the date of receipt, the name and address of the lender(s), the title of each Collection, and whether or not a lending agreement has been received, sorted by the name of the lender.
  • Materials Ordered But Not Received: A list of all items we are expecting to receive.
  • Unacknowledged Donations: A list of all accessions received between arbitrary dates for which we have not done our part of the paperwork, such as sending a letter of acknowledgment or Deed of Gift.
  • Mailing Labels: For individual donors/vendors/etc.

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