A Search for Collection Commonalities

Over the years I’ve organised a wide variety of collections – many of them documented in this web site. Each one has had its own special challenges and solutions. However, I’ve also noticed the following types of commonalities between the collections and the way I’ve dealt with them:

  • Relationships between objects: for example, between a Supertramp album digitised for the Music collection, and a ticket to a 1972 Supertramp concert in the Memento collection
  • Indexes: for example, the index for my own personal Memento collection from before I was married, has exactly the same fields as the index to the separate collection of Mementos belonging to my wife and myself.
  • Searching: as a result of the worldwide take up of internet search engines such as Google, search these days is invariably done by specifying keywords and phrases, regardless of the way the information being searched is structured. For example, The Photo collection has an index of each set off photos (mapping onto the old-style films that were inserted in cameras and developed) which can be searched for things like particular holiday destinations or photos from a particular year; however, the Trophy collection has no index and instead just has files with extensive descriptive information within the file titles which can be searched using the windows File Explorer Search bar.
  • Display and access – physical objects: for example, the Book collection is on display in bookcases, and the memento collection is on display in boxes and folders on a shelf in a tallboy.
  • Display and access – digital collections: for example, both the University Books collection and some of the Letter collection are in the Sidebooks app on the iPad.
  • Storage – physical objects: for example, those objects in the Computer Artefact collection that are not in the display cabinet are stored in containers in the loft; and the family memento collection is stored in folders in a chest in a downstairs room.
  • Storage – digital objects: for example, the Photo Collection’s digital files and the PAWDOC digital document collection are both stored in Window’s folders.
  • Passing on collections: for example, in the case of both the Physical Memento collection and the Stamp collection I was uncertain if younger members of the family would want to inherit them and consequently took steps to mitigate the problem (for the Memento collection I created a Wish Table which identified those items which were important for family history and those which could be disposed of without concern; and for the stamp collection I digitised the stamp pages and created two copies of a hardcopy book – one for each grandchild).

Such commonalities have led me to believe there may be some merit in a detailed examination of each collection with a view to identifying if there are:

  • Better ways of doing things for an individual collection
  • Standardised ways of doing things across collections
  • Collections that might be usefully combined together in some way
  • Particular technologies that might be applied across collections.

As I’ve been thinking about how to undertake this journey, I’ve acquired an iPad Pro to replace the old iPad Air in which many of my digital objects reside in the Sidebooks app; so, I already have a data migration job to perform. Therefore, I’ve decided I’ll use the opportunity to examine ALL of my collections to re-assess what should appear in Sidebooks and how they should be ordered and arranged. This exercise will provide me with an opportunity to document all my collections and to take a partial look at the commonality questions.

With those learnings under my belt, I intend to take this journey forward with a detailed overall look at two separate sets of collections. First, collections belonging to my mother who is now residing in a home and who has entrusted most of her personal belongings to me; and secondly, all my own collections. I’m hoping that these two disparate sets of material will be sufficiently diverse to produce some generalisable conclusions.

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