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<p>The University of Alaska Museum of the North (UAMN) uses the online museum collection management solution Arctos to maintain collection object data. Arctos manages over 3.5 million object and specimen records for 29 institutions as well as another 2 million records in Harvard’s MCZBase. Digitization of data associated with collection objects has reduced transcription error, standardized data input, and increased accessibility of our collections. While most institutions have found an efficient way to track data associated with objects, physical tracking of these objects has lagged. Both cultural and biological collections at UAMN have taken advantage of the sophisticated object-tracking capabilities in Arctos, which are as-yet unavailable in other commercial and freeware collections management systems. This provides us with an established system at UAMN that has been fine-tuned over a decade of use. The object-tracking feature uses barcodes, a string of unique characters that are machine readable by barcode readers. The barcodes are attached to all objects: from rooms, cases, specimen trays, and down to the object label itself. Arctos then creates a hierarchical map of an object’s physical location starting with the place in the building down to the position in the tray, making it easy to pinpoint the exact location of an object. Arctos can move objects in bulk, for example scanning a tray into a new case in seconds, updating locations of all objects in that tray. When researchers and visitors request access to items in these collections, staff can reliably pinpoint the exact location of the object. Objects examined can be quickly entered into a loan record using the barcode, which allows us to more effectively track object usage. This system is more efficient and introduces fewer opportunities for human error than other systems.</p>
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