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Accession record

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A list of documents or items added to a library collection, in the order of their addition. Normally, the list includes the accession number, bibliographic identification, source, and cost of each item. Synonymous with accession catalog and accession file.


The purpose of an accession record is to document the information regarding a collection's acquisition, as best as it is known, so that future employees and patrons may access that information in their research. Often this process is undertaken by one or more more volunteers, but it can also be the purview of the archivist or collection's manager.

Record Content[edit]

Accession Number

The first thing to assign an accession record is the accession number. This usually consists of the year of the acquisition, as well as the chronological number of when that collection was received. So the fourth collection received in 2013 would have the accession number "2013.0004" while the four-hundredth collection received in 2013 would have the accession number "2013.0400."

Creator or Originator of Collection

The original individual or organization that created the collection.

Relevant Dates

The date that the objects were created (if known) or the range of dates, and the date of it's donation.

Scope and Content

Exactly what the objects are, and what if an relevance they have to the institution's mission.

Storage Location

Where the collection has been placed in the institution's collection. It is important to list the precise box, shelf, and storage facility, so that the collection may be more easily retrieved later.

Acquisition Information

The name of the donor and, contact information, and how the collection was received. Most commonly the collection would be a gift, a loan, a purchase, or a transfer.


Carnell, B. (2004) Accession forms: Representative samples. Retrieved from

Witt, B.S., Whittfield, J.C., Stepansky, A.J. (2012) Pastperfect software for museum collections: Version 5 users guide. Retrieved from