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Adlib Designer Training for Collections Staff at Maidstone Museums

Museum Name

Maidstone Museum and Bentlif Art Gallery

Museum Contact

Rebecca Arnott, Collections Officer; 01622 602854

Title of Project

Rebecca Arnott, Collections Officer, on the 2-day AdLib Course

Adlib Designer Training for Collections Staff at Maidstone Museum


3rd February - 4th February 2015

What was the Project aim(s)?

  • Provide the collections staff with the necessary IT skills to complete the audit and maintain the Adlib CMS in the future by completing Adlib Designer Training.
  • Develop a small reference library around Digital Cataloguing and maintaining Metadata Systems to sustain the project.
  • Improve sustainability and management of the collection and CMS by having skills in house in the museum.

What was the impact of the project?

The major impact relates directly to the aims of the training. The collections team learnt new skills which can be used to increase the usability and in house management of the Adlib CMS. This in turn will help to complete the audit and maintain the CMS in future.

It showed us what can be done with the system and what the limits are, or what areas we would need external advice and programmers to work on. This knowledge is useful as we continue to apply for funding toward the audit project and improving our collections documentation. It is also useful as while we are cleaning the data in Access ready to upload we understand a little better how the Adlib software works, what can be mapped into the system and how to manage the upload.

The training and aims were inextricably linked to the sustainability of managing the Maidstone Museums’ collections in the future. This was an excellent first step in the auditing project. Alongside the handbook that we received from the course with screen shots and guidance the fact that we wrote in a small book budget to the bid meant we could continue to learn and maintain our knowledge after the course.

What went well and what didn’t go well?

The timing of the training was very good for us as it was before we got too far into cleaning the data on our current Access databases and in time for us to develop future bids.

It was also useful that all three of the collections team went as it allowed time to bond, especially as the Collections Officer had only been in post for a month, as well as talk over ideas and discuss how the training could be implemented back at the museum. It also meant that all of us have an understanding of what is possible, although the Registrar will do the most work around administering Adlib and using designer our Collections Manager has to finalise methodologies, timetables and plans for the audit project and the Collections Officer needs to understand how the interface can be made more effective for use by volunteers and what to source funding for so that the team can develop bids.

David, the Adlib trainer, is very good at guiding people through the application and catering to the needs of the group. It was also nice to meet people from different institutions who have similar issues and to hear how they are overcoming them as well as identifying areas where there was a shared need for bespoke training and programming and the potential to work together.

One of the things that inhibited us from covering all of the questions we had was that the security training was on a third day, which we did not book onto or have funding for. This was an oversight but we have the handbook for setting permissions and contacts that can show us how to do this so will still be able to work on this, a third day out of the office for the team would have been hard to manage at any rate.

Whist we still have some unanswered questions from our list of questions we are going to the Axiell User Group Conference and are committed to future research so will be able to answer these. A clearer outline of what the training covered would have managed our expectations and meant our questions could be more targeted. 

Top Tips

  • Definitely consider the training and undertake it prior to starting a large project like ours but once you have some knowledge of Adlib so you know what your issues are and what questions to ask.
  • Make a list of issues you want to overcome/questions/ information you would like to get out of the course as David is very accommodating.

What are your plans for the future?

In the future we hope that this is the first step in a large scale audit of all 600,000 objects in the collection as we currently have our collections documentation spread over 328 separate Access databases. Learning how to import records across from Access to Adlib, what is possible to map in a bulk upload (multiple occurrences are tricky and need extra programming) and how to make the user interface simpler for volunteers was all really useful for us. Since the training our registrar has successfully exported and imported some rogue files and is planning our first bulk upload for the next couple of weeks which we are all very excited about.

We will also be updating our version of AdLib software.

Overall Cost of Project

£1,650 2-day training for 3x staff

£875 travel, accommodation and subsistence for 3x staff

Total: £2,525