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Managing your collections

What you need to know on how to best manage what you collect, how to create catalogues, how to make provision for the preservation of paper, digital and multi-media, technical advice on digital issues and on specialist equipment, how to identify risks and plan for disasters.

Collection statements, acquisition and appraisal
Cataloguing standards and procedures
Cataloguing software
Collections care : passive and active conservation
Managing special media
Oral History Society
Digital preservation
Technical expertise: websites, databases, cloud storage
Sourcing specialist services and equipment
Identifying risks and disaster planning


Community archives (link to external website)

Guidance on collecting archives, cataloguing archives, oral history and digitisation.
Source: Hampshire Archives, not dated

Collection development tools and guidance (PDF)

Helps groups to review and develop their collections, identify gaps and risks, safeguard collections and consider short and long-term needs for access and preservation
Source: The National Archives, 2011

Archive principles and practice: an introduction to archives for non-archivists (PDF)

Besides a general introduction, you are also introduced to risks, storage and preservation, records management, cataloguing and arranging, funding and sustainability and benefits from your archives
Source: The National Archives, 2016

Collection statements, acquisition and appraisal

The National Archives. Collection development tools and guidance. 2011 (PDF)

Help with reviewing and developing identifying gaps and safeguarding your collection

Source: The National Archives, 2011

Archive collection policy statements: checklist of suggested contents (PDF)

Headings to help with key information on your group, what you seek to acquire and hold.
Source: The National Archives. Original 1995 (Royal Commission on Historic Manuscripts) with minor revisions, 2004

Cataloguing standards and procedures

Guidelines on sorting a collection (PDF)

Advice for groups taking on an archive collection from another organisation
Source: Leicestershire, Leicester and Rutland Record Office, not dated

Cataloguing guidelines for community archives (link to page on this website)

Advice on structuring and creating a catalogue, thinking about what information to provide, how to use field and appropriate standards to use
Source: CAHG 2017, 2nd ed.

Cataloguing archives (link to external website)

Sorting, arranging and providing references for archives
Source: Hampshire Archives, not dated

Rules for the construction of personal, place and corporate names (PDF)

A useful standard guide on how to construct names for archive catalogues
Source: ARA NCA (National Council on Archives), 1997

Cataloguing software

Cataloguing and archives networks (link to external website)

Offers some guidance on what to think about when thinking about purchasing an electronic cataloguing system and some additional useful sources of information
Source: The National Archives, not dated

Manage Your Collections (link to external website)

Manage Your Collections (MYC) at the National Archives is available to any archive who would like to widen access to their collections information. There are case studies of different archives who are currently using Manage Your Collections to publish their collections information online.

Collections care : passive and active conservation

The British Library’s Preservation Service (now closed) created a number of useful guidance booklets which are still available on line (link to external website)

Topics include

  • Basic preservation for archive collections (last rev 2013)
  • Understanding and caring for bookbindings (last rev 2010)
  • Cleaning books and documents (last rev 2011)
  • Self-service copying (last rev 2013) Some simple advice on handling and equipment
  • Damaged books (last rev 2010). Describes some common types of damage and how to decide what you can do for yourself and what would need a conservator
  • Managing the library and archive environment (last rev 2013). Advice on environmental conditions for collections still broadly sound but the come of the cited standards have now been updated or replaced.
  • Managing pests in paper based collections (last rev 2012) Advice on prevention and cure.
  • Preservation of photographic material (n.d. c2010)
  • Building a preservation policy (last rev 2013) Why to have one and how to produce it
  • Salvaging library and archive collections (last rev 2012). How to manage disasters
  • Library and archive storage furniture (last rev 2012) Advice on storage and space management

Preservation advice (link to external website)

Advice prepared for the Living Links project on passive conservation techniques when storing and handling documents
Source: Hampshire Archives, not dated

Caring for records (link to external website)

Tips on handling and packaging documents and caring for photographs
Source: West Yorkshire Archive Service, not dated

Managing special media

Film and videotape and the community archive (PDF)

Guidance on types of film, collecting and managing film and videotape. Advice on copying and links to Film Archives UK
Source: CAHG, not dated

Recording oral history (link to external website)

What it is, what and who it is for, formats, how to interview and what sort of equipment to use
Source: Hampshire Archives, not dated

Oral History Society

The Oral History Society website has three especially useful areas for non-members

Digital preservation

Digital Preservation for Community Archives (PDF)

Provides an overview of digital objects and digital preservation, a step by step guide to getting started and more detailed guidance. With a glossary.
Source: University College London. Dept of Information Studies, 2018

Digital Preservation Handbook (link to external website)

Aimed at a wide audience from beginners to experienced practitioners. Cited in Digital Preservation for Community Archives, which is best to read first.
Source: Digital Preservation Coalition, 2nd rev ed. 2015  

Technical expertise: websites, databases, cloud storage

Digitising  your archives (link to external website)

Simple staged guidance for beginners with useful glossary
Source: Hampshire Archives, not dated

Using digital technology in heritage projects: good practice guidelines (link to external website)

Section 7 on thinking about who to engage with is especially useful.
Source: Heritage Lottery Fund, 2012

Sourcing specialist services and equipment

Suppliers directory (link to external website)

Lists a range of organisations and services available to support the archives and records sector. Whether you need a new storage system, digitisation services, a document management solution, environmental monitoring or have a restoration project that requires support, our directory will help you get started. The Directory describes each Company and its services and provides contact details
Source: ARA

Identifying risks and disaster planning

Disaster planning and risk management (link to external website)

Simple lists of who to involve and how to think about risks
Source: The National Archives, 2012

Protecting archives and manuscripts against disasters (link to external website)

Introduction to types of risk and simple means of protection. With other sources of advice
Source: The National Archives, 2004



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