Become the Expert - Introduction

The “Become the Expert” series of free lessons was designed to help Costume Shop Managers, Props Managers, and Volunteers learn more about Inventory Databases and the Theatre Inventory Database in particular.   The more you know about creating an inventory the easier it will be to inventory your costumes and props, train others, and find and use costumes and props.

The series was also designed with students in mind to help give them an additional skill that can be helpful in getting a job.  Many student’s will find that getting a job right out of school is competitive and the more skills they have - the better chance they will have of finding a job.  Completing and turning in all the exercises in the series will earn a “Certificate of Completion”.  It is not a degree or diploma but it does show that the student has worked through many lessons and has become very familiar with inventory concepts and the Theatre Inventory Database.  The Theatre Inventory Database (and other modules)  is now used by over 425 organizations in the USA and 12 other countries.  Having experience with this software and a Certificate will look very good on a resume.

Completing the exercises and creating an inventory of your theatre requires a lot of work and being willing to go the 'extra mile'.  You will be asked to visit this website and download Resource Guides or worksheets.   You will need to become familiar with the Online User Guide (  You will need to find costumes/garments (either from your theatre or your own closet) and props/sets (again from your theatre or your home) to use for exercises.  If you want to complete the last group of lessons - Theatre Inventory Database - Essential Skills - you will need to have a computer with MS Access (or the MS Access Runtime) installed.  You can download the 30-day free trial of the Theatre Inventory Database or use a copy from your school/theatre or purchase the Student version (it is a full version at a discount but only will work for 12 months. 

You will need to be resourceful in finding and using resources to get all the answers - just like you would in any job.

Checkout all 4 sections below for more information:

How do I start the course?
1)  Sign up and give us your email address.  Sign Up here
2)  Review the website to find all the items on the Become The Expert bookshelf (see below)
3)  It will be a good idea to create a binder to hold your exercises, notes, and planning documents.  You can create an actual binder or keep your notes electronically in any of the notes/binder applications available.  You may want to set up tabs for Notes / Lists, Exercises (the exercises you complete plus screen prints and reports from the Theatre Inventory Database), Resource Guides, Sample tags, and The Data Entry Guidebook (a free pdf download).
4)  Go to the 1st lesson.  Read the lesson.  Download the Exercises (quiz).  Some exercises require that you have a few costumes or props.  If you don't have access to a costume/prop shop you can use your own clothes and household items for the purpose of the exercise.
5)  Send us your completed exercise (see below for more info).  We will review your exercise and attachments and let you know how you did.  You won't fail any exercise.  If we think you misunderstood the exercise we will give you some ideas of how to approach the questions again.  All the lessons build on prior lessons so if you are having trouble with a concept - please let us know and we will help you.  We want you to succeed.
6)  Start the next lesson.  You don't have to wait to hear back from us to start the next lesson.
Things to look for in the lessons...
Next to the yellow push pin will be a suggestion to write down a list or notes to add to your binder.
Click on the Tutorial screen to go to the Tutorials page.  The Tutorials have text to read and videos to watch.
Click on the Resource Guide to open a PDF Resource guide.  It is usually a good idea to download / print it to add to your binder.
Click on the User Guide to open the User Guide for the Theatre Inventory Database.  Many lessons reference the User Guide for more detailed information.
Click on the Watch Video icon to watch a video.
Click on the Download Icon to download a file.  It may be a Resource Guide, worksheet or other file.
Look for the Screen Print image when you need to make a screen print to send with your Exercises.
The red Check mark is at the end of the lesson to remind you of any downloads or lists you might want to add to your binder.
End of the Lesson

Become the Expert Bookshelf

    The Become the Expert Lessons will require you to use many of the resources from the Support section of the Costume Inventory Resources webpage:

    If you have not reviewed these documents yet, please do so.


     Resource Guides  - PDF files to download on Software Installation, Tags & Labels, Project Planning, Photos and more.

     User Guide - - online user guide for all modules of the Theatre Inventory Database.

     FAQ’s - Frequently Asked Questions

     Tutorials - Text, photos and videos to show specific tasks

     Data Entry Guidebook - you can download the PDF from the website.  This Guidebook will help you describe costumes, size                         them and identify fabric patterns and types.


Questions (FAQ's)

1)     Who are the lessons designed for?

        *  Costume Shop Managers
        *  Staff & Volunteers       

        *  Students 

        *  Anyone who wants to learn about creating an inventory and using the Theatre Inventory Database

2)    How much time will it take?

        The lessons and exercises are of different lengths.  Plan on spending at least 30 min to1 hour per lesson – though some will take a little longer.

3)    Do I have to do all the exercises?

        Only if you want to earn a certificate.  The exercises are designed to reinforce the concepts and tasks that you have learned. Completing them all will take a lot of time and energy but you will gain a lot of knowledge and will be able to train others on using the database.

4)    I have a PC but not MS Access.  Do I have to buy it?

        No, you don’t have to buy MS Access.  You can download a free MS Access Runtime software and install it.  Go to the” Resources” tab on the website for the link and also the Resource Guides for instructions on how to download it.

5)     I have a Mac / iPad.  Can I still do the lessons?

         You can download and read the lessons but to do the  "Computer Basics" and "Theatre Inventory Database - Essential Skills" exercises you need either a Windows PC or install Windows on your Mac (see the Resource Guides for help on this).


6)     Do I have to keep a binder ?


        No - but it is a good idea.  In many lessons you will create a list, download a Resource Guide, make a screen print or print a report from the Theatre Inventory Database.  Creating an inventory requires that you be organized and a good way to start is to keep a binder (either a regular binder or an electronic version) to help you keep your notes, reference material and lesson exercises together.


Hardware and Software Requirements

To complete the “Theatre Inventory Database Essential Skills” lessons you will need:  

□    Windows PC
□    MS Access (full version or Runtime)
□    Theatre Inventory Database-Elite
□    Inventory Tags and Labels
□    Rack Dividers
□    Barcode Scanner (recommended)

        If you or your organization already own the Theatre Inventory Database, inventory tags/labels, a barcode scanner and Rack Dividers - your cost is $0 !

    If you do not own the software you can purchase a license for the Student Version of the Theatre Inventory Database for a discounted price.

    The Student Version of the Theatre Inventory Database has all the modules and functionality of the Theatre Inventory Database Elite with the following limitations:

    •    The single version has a 12 month time limit (one school year).
    •    Each of the modules (Costume Pieces, Ensembles, Props, Patterns, Productions, Rentals) has a limit of 100 records

    Sample Rack Dividers and Inventory Tags and Labels will be mailed to the student at the time of the purchase of the Student Version.


How to Submit Exercises

The exercises you download are 'fill-able' PDF files.  That means that below each question there is a box (which may be invisible) where you can type your answer.   If you don't like working with the PDF you can open the PDF in MS Word and edit it there.  You can send in either a PDF or Word document.  If you need more room to type you can always submit an extra page in Word / Word Perfect / Excel.  Email or call us with questions.


     Option1:  The exercises at the end of each lesson are in the PDF file with the lesson.  You can print that page and enter your answers by hand.  To send the sheet you can scan it and save it as a *.jpg or *.pdf (depending on your scanner) or take a picture with your phone and send that to

     Option 2:  The exercises are available as a fillable form PDF file on the website.  You can download just the exercises and fill it in using Adobe Reader (free).  Send the exercise sheet with your answers to

Create PDF’s from Theatre Inventory Database

    Certain lessons will require you to print a report from the database and email that with the exercises.  All reports in the database can be printed to a PDF file.  

    Instructions for creating a PDF from a report:

        Go to the User Guide -
        Find the “Introduction”
        Look for the “Print Options” section

Make Screen Prints

    Certain lessons will also require you to make screen prints and send those along with the exercises.  Most screen print software saves the image as a *.jpg.  You can email the jpg's along with the pdf exercises.  It is a good idea to familiarize yourself with the software so you know how to use it and save a screen print to a file (either *.jpg or *.pdf).

    Windows 10 has a free Screen print application: Snipping Tool.  

                 Click on the Windows / Start button and type 'Snipping Tool' and it will load

    Free Screen Print software - Jing - available from .



855-468-8247 (USA/Canada)

530-753-7143 (International)

FAX: 888-282-7743


© 2018 Costume Inventory Resources. Proudly created with