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Accessioning VS Classification in Document Management

Any organization or institution whether it is a museum, library or hospital has tons of documents and records that need to be organized. Unless the documents are well recorded and organized, it is likely that the important data will be lost and you might not be able to retrieve them when needed. As a result, you require a proper document management program or software.

When you use record management software system to store, record and organize your documents, you will come across two widely used terms – accessioning and classification. There’s a thin line that differentiates these two activities. Let’s take a look at the differences between the two.

Accessioning of Records

Accessioning refers to the information related to creating specific records about an item – when it was acquired, received or bought from one source and on what date and time. In the case of a museum or library, this will include the name of the institution that has the custody of the item, the right to use, etc.

It includes assigning a unique identification number or control number to a particular item, assembly or lot. There are some organizations that may refer accessioning as cataloging of the items or records.

The objects that are accessioned become the permanent property of the organization as long as they retain their authenticity, unique identity and physical integrity. These items can be easily preserved, stored and used.

Classification of Records

In records management, the software classifies the records on the basis of the business functions and activities that generate them. This functional approach means that classification can be used for a variety of purposes such as setting user permissions, determining handling, storage, and security, appraisal, disposal, titling, and indexing.

Records classification mainly refers to the systematic arrangement as well as identification of business activities and records into logically structured conventions

Many people question the need for classification of data. It is useful for organizations where there are too many documents that need to be accessed. It is important to differentiate the records having a value from those that have no or little value. While cheap and portable storage units are cheap, the reliable ones are expensive. So, why let records of less value or no value at all eat up space which could otherwise be freed for important future data.

Proper classification helps you identify the relevance and importance of data and take the necessary steps. If some data are not required anymore, you can better dispose of them according to law.


Both accessioning and classification of records are important activities required for record or document management. While accessioning refers to storing the unique information about when a particular item or record was acquired, classification separates the important and valuable data from the chaff.