Compiled by Laura Hortz Stanton, CCAHA And Tom Clareson, Lyrasis
Updated July 25, 2011
Mounting exemplar preservation policies has been seen by the Delaware Connecting to Collections Implementation Grant Project Partners as a way to provide institutions in the state with high-quality preservation information. Model mission statements, disaster preparedness and recovery plans, environmental control policies, security plans, and exhibit policies have been identified and selected by the Project Partners and can be circulated widely among Delaware cultural heritage institutions, to serve as models for each repository to develop their own set of preservation policies. This “documentation of practice” can assure sustainability of preservation at the institutions, and help to move preservation from a set of disparate projects to a continuous, sustained program. Through preservation policy development, the cultural heritage community in Delaware can overcome one of the biggest concerns noted in both the survey questionnaire and the on-site visits during the Connecting to Collections Planning Grant program.
Background on Preventive Conservation The International Council of Museums Committee for Conservation defines preventive conservation as “all measures and actions aimed at avoiding and minimizing future deterioration or loss.” Preventive conservation encompasses almost all of the collections care activities that collections managers, curators, registrars, archivist, librarians and other stewards of cultural collections do on a daily basis. Environmental management, cataloging, processing, pest control, and housekeeping are just a few of the topics that fall under the auspices of preventive conservation.
Almost every activity fits under the preventive conservation umbrella can and should have a corresponding policy or procedure. Understanding the scope and intricacies of preventive conservation are key to developing policy and procedural documents that support preventive conservation goals and can be effectively implemented.
A Preventive Conservation Primer: Conservation Center for Art & Historic Artifacts, Preservation Resource, 2011 This preservation leaflet gives an overview of many of the aspects that are encompassed by preventive conservation.
Access Policy: A policy that addresses procedures for accessing the collections and outlines rules for who, under what circumstances, may use the collections. Access policies often outline different levels of access for staff, faculty, and outside researchers.
Collections Management Policy: A document that establishes policy regarding accessioning; deaccessioning; collections authority; collections access; staffing; materials placed in institutional custody; the level of necessary care; record keeping and documentation; and insurance coverage.
Collections Development PolicyA document that outlines what the Special Collections and Archives will collect and the breadth and scope of the collections. A collections development policy can also be used to identify and outline gaps in the collections and designate areas for concentration in future collecting.
Reformatting and Digitization Policy/GuidelinesA policy or procedural document that outlines the protocols for selecting collections materials for digitization or reformatting, as well as technical specifications for digitization and preferred equipment. The document should also provide information on access to digitized materials and systems that are in place for data migration, as it becomes necessary.
Emergency Preparedness and Response Plan: A document that identifies areas of collections risk and identifies methods of mitigating those risks and plans for response to those potential emergencies that cannot be mitigated. The plan includes response protocols, contact information for staff and vendors, and prioritize collections salvage.
Environmental Guidelines: A document that details the members of the environmental management team; environmental set points; HVAC system capabilities; a systems maintenance schedule; environmental monitoring methods and protocols; and protocols for making adjustments to systems.
Ethical Standards: A document that establishes the conduct that is expected of the parent institution and its staff in relation to the collections in order to avoid conflicts of interest and impropriety. Many institutions include this as part of their Collections Management Policy. Many professional organizations have Ethical Standards documents, including the International Council of Museums (ICOM), the American Association of Museums (AAM), the American Association for State and Local History (AASLH), American Library Association (ALA), and the Society of American Archivists (SAA). Other model statements include:
Exhibition Policies: An exhibition policy should outline guidelines for the preservation, care, and maintenance of collections materials while on exhibition. The policy outlines how materials will be selected for exhibition; length of time materials will be exhibited; acceptable light levels for collections specified by materials type; information on mounts and supports; security for collections while on exhibition; and housekeeping in exhibition spaces.
Handling Guidelines: Institutions should, ideally have two sets of handling guidelines – one for staff and one for researchers/users. The guidelines for outside users is more general in nature and details information regarding food and drink near collections, use of gloves, and acceptable writing implements and photographic equipment to use near collections. The guidelines for staff should be more detailed and should include who on staff may handle collections materials; prerequisite training for handling collections; collections transports; information on when collections are restricted for use/exhibition; and detailed handling guidelines for materials by type (framed artwork, ceramics, textiles, papers etc.).
Housekeeping Policy: A housekeeping policy includes information on frequency of cleaning in collections and exhibition areas; acceptable products to use around collections materials; information on prerequisite training for those staff members charged with housekeeping duties; and procedures for carrying out specific cleaning tasks.
Loan Policy: A policy that establishes guidelines and procedures to govern the approval process for incoming or outgoing loans of archival materials and rare or valuable library materials. This document is separate from any interlibrary loan policy, as the criteria for the loan of special collections materials is often more strict. Many institutions include this as part of their Collections Management Policy.
Preservation Plan: A strategic planning document that outlines the preservation needs of the collections and identifies specific projects related to those needs with assigned staff responsibility and timeframes.
Have a policy or procedural document that you’d like to have included on this list? Send a copy of the policy to Beth-Ann Ryan. In your email provide a short description of your institution, a link to your web site, and a few words about why you’d like your document added to the listing. The document will be reviewed and you will be notified if it is added to the web site.