From the start there was a need to record the entry of objects into the museum and record the return of loans to their owners. The earliest surviving diaries in the museum archive, dating from the 1920s, include records of object entries and exits. Around 1930, two notebooks were made for objects entering the permanent collections and for objects leaving the museum for return to owners, with retrospective entries going back to 1903, "Pictures etc. bought out of funds etc - and - presented" ( md18 ) and "Pictures etc. lent to Art Gallery and Museum and returned to owners" ( md19 ). For more about md18 see accession registers.
The loans book, md19 , appears to have relied on exhibition catalogue entries for dates before 1920. It has many entries with no indication of when objects were returned and some entries are totally unrelated to loans. In 1932, a purposely designed loans register was purchased, md5 , with title "Exhibits received on loan or lent by sub-committee". The section for objects lent out was in use until October 2000. Also in 1932, a receipt book was started for recording return of loans, this and other "Manifold Duplicate" books in the archive were in use until 1969.
From September 1971 all objects entering Towneley was recorded into a notebook named the day book . Each entry was dated and given a sequential number beginning with year number. The object was either a purchase or a gift or a loan with a named vendor or donor or loanee. There was a short description of the object and optionally some action. Day books continued until July 2000 when an object entry form started to be used instead. The museum archive includes four day books ( md11, md12, md13, md64 ) These may still have some use in improving the collection catalogues, since some objects entered together in the day books are now in separate collections, for example war medals that were donated together with photographs of the medal's recipient.