Cataloguing guidelines for community archives

Guidelines produced by the Community Archives and Heritage Group (CAHG)

Jack Latimer

The Community Archives and Heritage Group (CAHG) has developed a set of cataloguing guidelines for community archives. You can download a copy of the guidelines free of charge.

About the new guidelines

There are an increasing number of community heritage groups round the country, building up digital collections, sometimes in association with a local record office or museum and sometimes not. CAHG estimates number of these groups at between 3000-5000. The enthusiasm and energy of the groups make them a fantastic heritage asset for the country, but they catalogue and present their material in disparate ways, and frequently seek guidance on the issue.

In 2007, there was a survey of the needs of community archives at the CAHG conference, and cataloguing was one of the top issues raised. Professional cataloguing standards can be somewhat intimidating for non-archivists, so here we offer guidance on a minimal standard for cataloguing that aims to be realistic and user-friendly. We have tried to keep the guidance short and simple.

If you follow these guidelines, the records kept by your heritage project will be compliant with existing widely-used professional catalogue standards.

Developing these guidelines

These guidelines were written by Jack Latimer of CommunitySites for the Community Archives Heritage Group. The first draft of the guidelines was based on consultation with William Stockting (then with the National Archives) and David Dawson (then with the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council). Many thanks are due to the professional archivists and community groups who reviewed the first draft guidelines, and particularly to Kate Hart who supplied the diagram in Appendix 1. The final stage of preparation and consultation of the guidelines was funded by the National Council on Archives.

If you have any comments on the guidelines, please contact Jack Latimer at

This page was last updated on 17 August 2015.

Comments about this page

  • Loved the cataloguing guidelines, very well done. Really useful.

    By Edith (1 April 2017)
  • Thank you for your email, very pleased that you like the cataloguing guidelines. We are in fact, in the process of updating these and they should be available on the website shortly. Please do revisit the website or, if you haven’t already, sign up for our e-newsletter which will advertise when they have been uploaded.

    By Elaine Davis (2 April 2017)

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