A good practice guide to continuous professional development (CPD) for collections management






The attached PDF is a Guide to Selecting a Review Methodology for Collections Rationalisation

This fact sheet provides updated guidance on the Acquisition procedure in SPECTRUM 4.0

Museums Galleries Scotland: Advice Sheet from MGS describing the threats to paper collections, which may include fine art on paper; archive materials in the form of letters, diaries and documents; maps and plans. Outlines the chief threats to paper collections -- environment; pests; people; contact materials -- and suggests ways of preventing damage from one or more of them.

Museums Galleries Scotland's Advice Sheet explaining what collection care is, the reasons behind it, why it is important, the activities involved and the responsibilities of museum managers and/or trustees.

Appendix to accompany the dissertation



Author: Rebecca Gardner

Every growing industry needs to take care of the 'pipeline' through which it sources new talent and fresh ideas. If our museum sector is to look to the future with confidence, we need to ensure that our pipeline is delivering people with different perspectives, diverse professional, social and ethnic backgrounds, good ideas and the attitude and ambition to succeed. One way we could achieve this would be by embracing the opportunity of opening up our approach to apprenticeships in museums. 

Apprenticeships are defined by the UK Government's National Apprenticeships Service as a 'way for young people and adult learners to earn while they learn in a real job, gaining a real qualification and a real future. Hiring apprentices helps businesses grow their own talent by developing a motivated, skilled and qualified workforce.'

A National Preservation Office publication, providing guidance on the preservation of library and archive collections.

An invaluable guide produced by the BfI National Archives, which provides easily-understandable guidelines and parameters for caring for film and video material.

Published by the Collections Australia Network, this simple PDF book gives an excellent overview on Disaster Preparedness and Disaster Planning for smaller museums and cultural organisations.

This guidance may be useful if you are preparing for Accreditation.

image: Language of Lead & Letters of Lead by Steve Manthorp and Sue Lawty at Killhope Lead Mining Museum, part of museumaker - See more at: http://www.artscouncil.org.uk/funding/funded-projects/case-studies/museumaker/#sthash.uHUjqDR8.dpuf

Benchmarks in Collections Care 2.0 is a self-assessment checklist that sets out clear and realistic Benchmarks for collections care.  

Many museums use Benchmarks as a performance management tool to review and measure their current standards of collections care and work towards improvement.

Benchmarks in Collections Care 2.0 has been comprehensively updated to reflect the latest in collections care practice.

This interactive spreadsheet in Excel can be downloaded and used to review and improve your collections care.

Benchmarks reproduced in Excel is based on a spread sheet originally created by Chris Woods, Director of the National Conservation Service

The Materials thesaurus was initially compiled from index terms generated from computer records created using curatorial documentation and the objects themselves. A Working Party was set up with representatives from the Collections Data Management Section (CDMS) associated with various curatorial departments.

A Collections Data Management Section (CDMS) Working Party was set up in the 1980s to analyse the terms used to record object names in the British Museum, and to incorporate them into an on-line thesaurus. Hierarchical and other standard thesaural relationships were added, as well as explanatory notes where appropriate. The thesaurus architecture is based on ISO 2788.

This factsheet provides updated guidance on Bulk Accessioning in SPECTRUM 4.0

image: using a computerThis webinar is presented by Nico Tyack, Documentation Officer at City of Edinburgh Council, who has conducted a survey, now published on collectionstrust.org.uk, to find out how other museum and gallery services have approached the specification, implementation and updating of their Collections Management System systems. This formed part of a project started in Autumn 2012 by Edinburgh Museums and Galleries to review their requirements for a CMS to replace an existing outmoded system.

This video from SHARE Museums East explains how you can calibrate a dial hygrometer.

This video from SHARE Museums East explains how you can calibrate a thermohygrograph.

altThe Institute of Conservation (ICON) has issued a Call for Tenders for consultants to undertake a quinquennial review of the PACR (Professional Accreditation of Conservator-Restorers) scheme. 


The Quinquennial review for 2013 will be the third one since PACR was implemented in 2000.  The first review in 2003 focused on the operational aspects of the PACR process and its professional standards structure. In 2008 the review aimed to find out how PACR could address the needs of the conservation community and its stakeholders over the next decade as well develop a process that would be as fully inclusive as possible to all practising conservators in the cultural sector .

National Preservation Office leaflet giving guidance on caring for CDs and DVDs.

Museums Galleries Scotland's Advice Sheet on caring for paintings and frames in museums. Covers materials and signs of deterioration; environmental and biological threats; human damage; with further advice on packing and transport and preventative actions.

Museums Galleries Scotland: Advice Sheet from MGS providing guidance on the care and preservation of photographic collections. Discusses rare prints and early glass negatives, photo albums, 35mm slides and bundles of colour photographs. Stresses the need to provide the correct environmental conditions; correct protective storage enclosures; and to ensure safe handling and display.

Museums Galleries Scotland: Advice Sheet from MGS providing guidance on understanding and preventing possible damage to textiles from light and heat, moisture, pests and mould. With suggestions for storage and handling.

Museums Galleries Scotland: CAT (Condition Assessment Tool), a package including guidance manual in Microsoft Word and PDF; the CAT database program and supporting SMC factsheets. Step-by-step help including technical assistance and assessor's guidance.

This factsheet provides updated guidance on the Cataloguing procedure in SPECTRUM 4.0

Imperial War Museum's Checklist for Loans In. This document forms part of the Loans In Agreement with the Owner.

Imperial War Museum's Checklist for Loans Out. This document forms part of the Loans Out Agreement with the Borrower.

Find the right software for your needs by comparing the features of leading Collections Management Systems over more than 40 different criteria.

Find the right software for your needs by comparing the features of leading Digital Asset Management systems.

In addition to the Choose A CMS 2014-2015 comparison tool which enables you to compare the collections management systems from the leading suppliers internationally, you may also find advice from other sector professionals useful when considering your choice of CMS.


Buying Collections Management Software Webinar - presented by Nico Tyack, Documentation Officer at City of Edinburgh Council. Nico presents the findings of a survey to find out how other museum and gallery services have approached the specification, implementation and updating of their Collections Management System

7 things to consider when choosing a Collections Management System - a blog by Laura Whitton, Content and Communities Manager at Collections Trust, for CILIP, the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals

Advice from Jonathan Whitson Cloud, Collection Documentation Technical Manager at the British Museum:

  • Until quite recently a system (from the Ancient Greek σύn ἱστήμι – meaning 'set up together') was the way that something was done, not the tool expected to do it all for us. The former definition is more useful. People and their attitudes still matter more than machines in the smooth running of an institution.
  • The implementation of a tool is as important, or possibly more important, than the tool used. More projects fail because the objective is poorly understood or they are badly/incompletely executed than because they make a bad choice of tools.
  • The entirety of the institution/s using the tool must be enthusiastic about the project and willing to engage in the tool’s definition, its practical use and its long term growth.
  • Knowledge Organisation, Knowledge Management, Information Science, Museum Documentation etc. are long established disciplines, with sound literature. No tools should be purchased/implemented without documents and staffing that demonstrate an institutional understanding of, and policies towards these.
  • Museum Activities in particular are well documented in the SPECTRUM standard and elsewhere. Scoping for any museum system need start nowhere else but with these established standards.

Collections Management LinkedIn Group - a great place to ask for advice and share information

If you have recently been through the process of choosing a new CMS and have useful advice you would like to share, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or join the Collections Management LinkedIn Group.



National Preservation Office leaflet giving guidance on simple dry cleaning methods for removing surface dirt from bound volumes and unbound papers.

A Collections Trust factsheet. Explains what a collections description is and why it is useful.

image: AccessIn the cultural heritage sector ‘digitisation’ usually refers to the reproduction of objects from cultural heritage collections, such as 3D objects, artworks, photographs, and manuscripts in a digital format, which might be:

  • An image
  • A sound recording
  • A video
  • Digital text

 The digitisation process results in two distinct categories of digital asset:

  • The digital object itself
  • Metadata about the digital object

The digitisation of collections is primarily driven by the desire to enhance access to museum collections on behalf of increasingly digitally literate audiences. However, objects may also be digitised for preservation purposes, for example in order to decrease handling of a particular object.

Digitisation is just one part in a chain of selection, conservation, movement, meta-description, rights clearance, preparation, delivery, use and preservation. This chain of events is usually referred to as the ‘digital lifecycle’ and can consist of the following stages:

  • Preparation for digitisation
  • Handling of originals
  • The digitisation process
  • Storage and management of the digital master material
  • Metadata creation/capture
  • Publication
  • Disclosure of resources
  • Re-use and re-purposing
  • Intellectual property rights and copyright

It would be impossible to create a single document that captured all the standards available for a digitisation project. The standards used in a project are inevitably very specific to the outcome of the project and the circumstances surrounding the actual objects – circumstances such as location, ownership, material and condition.

Generally speaking the standards and legislation which apply in a digitisation project can be split under the following categories:

  • Sector specific  standards – e.g. SPECTRUM 4.0 Cataloguing Procedure; SPECTRUM 4.0 Object Condition Checking and Technical Assessment Procedure
  • Technical standards for software and hardware   - e.g. files formats; meta data standards; formats for media storage
  • Legal requirements – e.g. requirements governing ownership of the intellectual property in original objects, and in the digital output; licensing for re-use of digital output

Choosing digital standards:

Thursday, 14 August 2014 15:26

Collections Access Standards: Introduction

Written by

image: AccessThe Museum Associations Code of Ethics 2007 definition of a museum states that, ‘Museums enable people to explore collections for inspiration, learning and enjoyment. They are institutions that collect, safeguard and make accessible artefacts and specimens, which they hold in trust for society’. All Accredited museums must meet this definition to be eligible for the Museum Accreditation Scheme.

This chapter is divided into the following areas of collections management activity, which provide access to collections:

  • Lending and borrowing
  • Using collections
  • Digitisaing collections

Principle Standards and Codes for Collections Access

There are four principle overarching standards and codes which inform collections access policy and practice in museums and define the provision of access to collections as an essential and integral component of good collections management practice.


Relevance of Standard to Collections Information 

Further Information about applying the standard

Museum Association Code of Ethics 2007
Defines the principles which guide museum practice and underpin policy and practice regarding the provision of access to museum collections. Ethical Guidelines, Toolkits and Advice
PAS 197: Code of practice for cultural collections management

PAS 197 defines collections management in museums and gives recommendations for the management of collections through the provision, implementation and maintenance of a ‘collections management framework’, which includes policies, processes and procedures for collections information activity in the museum. The PAS 197 Collections Management Framework defines four areas of collection management activity:

  • Collections development
  • Collections Information
  • Collections access
  • Collections care and conservation

Further information about PAS 197

Collections Management: a Practical Guide, explores the practical application of PAS 197

Accreditation Scheme for Museums and Galleries in the united Kingdom: Accreditation Standard 
The Accreditation Scheme sets nationally agreed standards for museums in the UK. The standard contains specific requirements for the provision of access to collections, in particular under Section 3: Users and their experience. It also contains specific requirements for the management of loans, which is contained in Museum Accreditation Standard Section 2: Collections. Accreditation requires that the museum reflects the PAS 197 Collections Management Framework in the organisation of it collections management. There are guidance documents for each of the three sections in the Accreditation Standard, including guidance governing collections information.
SPECTRUM 4.0 and SPECTRUM 4.0 Appendix 1: the UK Museum Collections Management Standard
SPECTRUM 4.0 defines 21 collections management Procedures, presented in workflow format. SPECTRUM is fundamental to collections access in that it underpins all collections management activity, and efficient collections management drives access to the collection. There are also specific procedures in SPECTRUM which provide workflows for collections managers when making collections accessible. A wide range of information about SPECTRUM can be found at:



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