A new storage place for your archive and collections

== Property right ==

Archives and collections are subject to property rights, which can cover the ‘tangible’ items under your ownership.

Copyrights, on the other hand, relate to the ‘intangible’ parts of an archive – the actual creation – and can be summarised as follows: the right comes into force when a ‘creative’ piece of work is produced for which the ‘exploitation rights’ and ‘personality rights’ belong exclusively to its creator. This right comes into effect upon creation without any further action being required.

Make sure the property rights for your archive and collections are properly cleared and unambiguously set out on paper. Do all parties involved agree to a possible transfer?

More info: Cultuurloket

Archive destination

Check whether any of your archive and/or collection has been previously registered by a (professional) repository, individual or society. If it has, we advise transferring the archive to this storage place. It is after all preferable to store your whole archive together in its entirety.

Tip: visit the Archiefbank Vlaanderen website if you’re not sure whether part of your archive has previously been registered by a professional repository, individuals or societies. Not all archives are registered here, but it’s possible that yours has been.

To ensure your archive remains in your professional or personal circles, you can donate it to family, friends, a successor, or an institution or organisation you are affiliated with. This means it will stay in the hands of people you have a close or trusted relationship with, and who also want the best for it. They may well be willing to take care of your archive because of a personal or shared interest, or from of cultural-historical awareness perspective.

You can also transfer your archive to a professional storage facility: archive institutions (including city and municipal), heritage libraries (including conservatories and some university libraries) or museums. After all, these organisations’ primary task is to store ‘heritage’ in good conditions, make it accessible and encourage its use, so they have trained employees with the necessary expertise. Even if you don’t have any personal connection with these organisations, they still deserve your full confidence when it comes to caring for your archive.

If you can’t find an appropriate archive institution, you can always call on Archiefpunt. This intermediary body will strive to find a suitable storage place for every relevant archive. It aims to ensure – through consultation and dialogue with all stakeholders – that no collections slip through the net and become irrevocably lost.

You may also be able to contact a local group or society about your archive and collection. Visit the Heemkunde Vlaanderen website to find groups in your area.

Tip: if you’re unsure about what new location to consider for your archive, put together a working group of people who know your archive and collections and will do what’s best for it. Contact a heritage organisation for support. The accredited cultural heritage expertise centres in Flanders can support and mediate your search for a suitable storage place for your archive (collection).

As an artist or organisation, there are a number of expertise centres that you can use in Flanders:

  • Flanders Architecture Institute - point of contact for architecture in Flanders and Brussels
  • CEMPER - centre for music and performing arts heritage in Flanders and Brussels
  • meemoo - a non-profit organisation committed to supporting the digital archive operations of cultural, media and government organisations (Ghent)
  • Histories - recognised as a national service organisation for genealogy, local history, local heritage and everyday culture (Mechelen)
  • WIE (Werkplaats Immaterieel Erfgoed) - organisation for intangible cultural heritage

There are also support centres for various art disciplines:

  • Flanders Arts Institute
  • Forum for Amateurkunsten (Forum for Amateur Arts)

Museums and cultural archives also offer various support and services:

  • Amsab-ISG (Institute for Social History);
  • Archive and Museum for the Flemish Living in Brussels
  • ADVN (Archive for National Movements)
  • Archiefbank Vlaanderen
  • CKV / M HKA (Museum of Contemporary Art Antwerp)
  • KADOC (Documentation and Research Centre on Religion Culture and Society from KU Leuven)
  • House of Literature
  • S.M.A.K. (Municipal Museum of Contemporary Art in Ghent)
  • Rijksarchief (National Archives of Belgium), and provincial and municipal archives

Various administrations can offer you both content-related and financial support:

  • Agentschap Kunsten en Heritage (Agency for Arts and Heritage)
  • Vlaamse Gemeenschapscommissie (Flemish Community Commission)

You will find all your local heritage organisations in Flanders and Brussels on the FARO (Flemish Institution for Cultural Heritage) Erfgoedkaart (Heritage Map).

‘Donation’ or ‘safekeeping’

There are two possibilities for transferring private archives: you can donate your archive and surrender your property rights with a donation or handover agreement (via notarial deed), or you can deposit your archive for safekeeping but retain the property rights with an safekeeping/preservation agreement.

Tips:

  • Make sure you always fully document each archive (item) that you donate or deposit. Any transfer to a storage facility or individual/organisation must be recorded in an agreement signed by both parties. (Read more about this in the points for attention for transferring your archive/collection).
  • Do not make the decision between a ‘donation’ or ‘safekeeping’ on your own. Put together a working group of people who know your archive and collections and will do what’s best for it. Contact a heritage organisation for support.


Transfer

Exactly how a transfer is handled can vary from one organisation to the next. They all have their own ‘habits’, after all. Check whether the storage facility you choose has published guidelines for acquiring private archives on its website. Make an appointment with the organisation’s manager to discuss the entire process so you know what to expect. Take the organisation’s possibilities into account, and set out all agreements in a contract. Agree a specific date to transfer the archive.

Action points for transferring an archive

Contact your newly chosen manager in good time

The arrival of a new archive requires a certain amount of preparation time, even for a professional facility. So contact the manager in good time to ask if there is room for your archive and make your intentions known.

Ask for clarity about how your archive will be stored and accessed

Will the facility draw up an inventory? Will there be room for valorisation or appreciation of your archive and collection? Make sure you discuss anything that you want or would prefer not to happen, and make clear agreements about public accessibility.

Think carefully in advance about any confidential or personal information in your archive that you would prefer not to disclose

Restrictions on openness can be set in consultation with the archive storage facility. Archive storage facilities are in any case also bound by privacy legislation, so copyrighted content may only be made available to the public under certain conditions. Check carefully in advance, together with the archive storage facility, which documents and objects are protected by copyright and make solid agreements about this.

Make agreements about what the archive organisation expects from you

What condition must the archive be transferred in (organised, cleaned, etc.)? Does the transfer require any detailed selection or inventory?

Draw up a transfer list

Use this list to describe which items are being transferred and rule out any dispute at a later date. This transfer list also serves as a useful archive overview for the new owners and future researchers and artists alike. Make clear agreements with the facility manager about exactly what information this transfer list needs to include and how detailed it needs to be. It is often sufficient to indicate larger units, possibly comprised of and linked to the exact (numbered) boxes used to relocate the archive. If you have ever documented your archive structure or drawn up a description in the past, you can use this overview as a basis. A transfer list is equivalent to a placement list, but without the exact location description. See the 'Draw up a placement list' section for more information.

Clean up your archive

You may be expected to clean up your archive before transferring it.

This means removing any harmful elements that could damage the documents: paper clips, elastic bands, plastic folders, ring binders, superfluous paper folders, blotting paper, etc. Remember, however, that documents held together with these potentially harmful materials should remain physically attached. You can therefore fold a large sheet of paper (A3) in half and store the documents inside, and replace ring binders with boxes. Always check that the original packaging doesn’t contain any information that could be useful for describing the documents before discarding it.

You should also remove any duplicates, insignificant notes and draft versions with only minor differences from final versions. See the Clean up your archive and Physical storage of your archive sections for more information.

Package the archive into sturdy boxes before moving

Make sure you always keep the same structure and ordering that’s already in use. In other words, do not mix the archive items unnecessarily. Resist the temptation to store materials together if they don’t belong together, simply to fill the boxes better. You can use crumpled up paper to fill empty spaces in boxes so that the stored materials don’t move around. Archive facilities prefer to receive a few extra boxes containing a well-organised archive than a compactly packaged but disorganised archive. So make sure the new custodian doesn’t need to unpack all the items and put them back in the right order, which can be a big job. Package everything as if you are the person receiving the archive.

Tip: professional storage facilities receive great volumes of archive materials to process every year, so it might take a little while before they start with yours. The more information you provide about your archive, and the more guidelines you follow from this website, the sooner your archive will be ready for long-term storage.

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