modes collections management

understanding collections

Review of Modes Workshop & AGM 2017

Share with:

 One of the most useful and inspiring conferences I have been to for some time!” 

- Simon Davies (Museum Consultant)

Objects on display at Derby Museum and Art Gallery - Modes Workshop Fox on display at Derby Museum and Art Gallery - Modes workshop

We were delighted to see so many Modes users for the Modes AGM and WorKevin Gosling, CEo of the Collections Trust - presentation at Modes Annual Meetingshop 2017, which was held in the beautifully refurbished meeting room at the Derby Museum and Art Gallery on the 3rd October. Delegates came from museums across the U.K. to listen to and engage with expert speakers and celebrate 30 years of Modes Software.

Kevin Gosling, CEO of Collections Trust gave an inspiring presentation about the evolution of Modes software and its links with Collections Trust.  (PICTURED: Kevin Gosling sets out his aims for the future).

Kevin’s engaging talk wove in the shared history of the two organisations when MODES was a project to computerise museum collection information within the Museum Documentation Association (aka MDA – later to become the Collections Trust). The early development of the SPECTRUM standards was intertwined with the pioneering development of MODES software. SPECTRUM standards were at the heart of Modes – providing clear guidance as how to document collections using consistent data arrangements for recording information.

Collections Trust has evolved a great deal in recent years and Kevin emphasised its role and future aims to the Modes audience - it will continue focusing on what it does best – collection management guidance – and doing it better in terms of clarity and resources.  Modes Users Association is a Spectrum Partner and Modes Complete software is fully Spectrum Compliant and Modes Compact supports Spectrum Primary Procedures and ACE Museum Accreditation.  CT is the go-to place for collections documentation information and guidance. Spectrum standards are now being adopted by many countries around the world and is fast becoming the global standard.

Spectrum 5 – the latest version – was launched officially last month at York. We have found this revisiting of Spectrum far more accessible and navigable.  In brief, it’s much clearer for the average user. Two new aspects have been added to Spectrum Procedures; Documentation Planning – putting a positive spin on backlogs and looking at them as an opportunity and a resource, and Inventory level records (already covered by the Basic template in Modes).

Simplified and fit for purpose is how we’d describe the amended Spectrum 5.  We’ll be keeping you posted as to the developments in Modes to reflect the slight changes in Spectrum 5.

The next presentation by Peter Pavement from Surface Impressions Limited, discussed the ‘development journey’ of his company’s work with museums and archives. The resulting software can be integrated with popular collections management systems such as Modes allowing Modes users to get added value from their systems.  

Peter demonstrated how he had worked with Helston Museum to editorialise their extensive photographic collection and get it online in a fascinating slideshow discussion.

 Peter Pavement, Surface Impression - presentation at Modes Workshop 2017

PICTURED: Peter Pavement from Surface Impressions Ltd demonstrates how to editorialise collections.


After a buffet lunch provided by the Derby Museum team, there was a chance for delegates to have a guided tour of the works of Joseph Wright of Derby kindly offered by the museum tour guide. The Joseph Wright Gallery is a permanent showcase of the magnificent work of this Derby-born artist who was renowned for his skilful use of chiaroscuro – the contrasting effect of light and shadow.


Modes Users tour of Joseph Wright Gallery at Derby MuseumPICTURED: Delegates view the splendid paintings in the Joseph Wright Gallery


Later that afternoon delegates were separated into three groups and had the opportunity to pose their questions to the experts at the Knowledge Café.

Nick (Modes) was happy to discuss various aspects of Modes procedures, demonstrating backups, grids and applications. Modes users posed many great questions for the team to discuss and solve. We will be looking in more detail at some of the questions which arose from the workshop in a forthcoming edition of this newsletter.


Modes Knowledge Cafe at Modes Meeting 2017PICTURED: Nick (Modes) provides demonstrations in answer to user’s questions about Modes procedures.

Knowledge is a two-way street and at Modes we value the input of our users to continually improve our products and services.

Richard Light (Modes Developer) listened to Modes user’s suggestions about how they would like to see the Modes system improved and went away with lots of useful ideas for future developments.


Modes Knowledge Cafe at Modes Meeting 2017PICTURED: Delegates pose their questions to a Modes expert.

Later, the use of grids was discussed as a separate topic on the agenda as many of you had pointed out that covering this topic in depth would be useful.

Modes are pleased that the AGM and workshop was so beneficial to the many users that attended.

Denise Gildroy of Whitby Museum had attended the Modes workshop before and returned this year as she has found it a very useful experience. “You can talk to the experts and pick up information,” she said.

Michael Cornwell of Rifles Berkshire and Wiltshire found the talk by Peter Pavement extremely interesting and particularly valued “the opportunity to talk to other Modes users.”

Modes are delighted that the workshop was so well received. We hope to see even more of you at next year’s event!


MODES AGM – summary

For Modes users who would like to read the minutes of the AGM in detail, and the finalised accounts a link is given below.

Modes chairman, Jamie Everitt thanked the directors for their hard work and commitment to the board, extending special thanks to Jeff Cowton who is stepping down from the board after 16 years with Modes.

The chairman discussed the continued review of the Modes business plan with reference to the need to keep pace with technological advancements and the desire to consult Modes users to assess their needs. Modes commissioned a comprehensive market research survey which was done by Qa Research based in York.  Modes was very pleased with the positive feedback it received from its users and will be using the results of the market research to shape future developments. The board will be defining the final business plan in the financial year 2017-18.

Modes moved to new premises this year. These centrally located offices are more suitable for the needs of staff and Modes users alike. Staff can book rooms for training and meetings across a range of premises also run by Connect Derby.

Richard Langley, Modes Technical Services Manager outlined the advancements made in product development. Following the release of the Modes Compact 1.3 upgrade in March 2016, there has been continued work to improve the version and to fix any bugs.

Modes delivered 55 onsite training days around the country and approximately 340 attended Modes onsite training during the year. Eight training days were held in Derby. There was no take up of online training during this year.

A workshop for Compact users was held on 30th June and the Modes Annual Workshop was held in Derby on October 12th, 2016.

Currently, 20 clients are using our WordPress web hosting service, plus there are 30 clients using our earlier non-WordPress webhosting service. The WordPress service gives users more direct control over the development and management of their websites. Once users register for the WordPress service, development of their websites is left to their own input and these websites are in various stages of development. Offering WordPress through our own server gives members a low-cost option to make their Modes records available online. The only cost involved is the annual hosting fee of £150 + vat, with the client responsible for set up and design, and a small fee if a domain name is registered by us.

The MyModes members’ area on the Modes website plays a major role in allowing users to access our services and logging on has been the main way of distributing the recent software upgrades. A wide range of help guides and other useful documentation is available to members who have been issued with a user name and password. New passwords can be issued on request if required.

The Modes Forum, where users can share questions about Modes with other users was launched this year. 

Newsletters go out via email to Modes users on a regular basis.