Archive and collection management is the responsibility of everyone who is actively involved with the organisation. Make sure this is a shared responsibility for all (internal and external) employees, draw up clear agreements and set responsibilities. How you do this, and with whom, depends on your work, but it’s important that you communicate it properly with all employees and stakeholders, and that agreements are also clearly noted down.
Appoint a manager for the archive and collections, so that there’s a single, central point of contact who maintains an overview of the archive and collection management. This doesn’t mean they need to do everything themselves. Draw up clear agreements with colleagues and appoint individuals to be responsible for specific tasks.
Make sure that all agreements are adhered to consistently.
Below you will find an overview of possible agreements and responsibilities that you can draw up to guarantee good archive and collection management. This list is not exhaustive and is intended for inspiration purposes only.
- Clearly establish where and how you’re going to store your archive and collections.
- Document decisions, actions and problems relating to archive and collection management, so that no information about any actions becomes lost. Let your employees know about these documents and where they can be found.
- Agree when documents and objects are to be included in the archive.
Organising and describing
- Make agreements about how to organise your physical and digital archive. This ensures that all employees know where they need to classify their documents so they can be found more easily.
- Make agreements about which employees are allowed to modify the folder structure, and from what level in the digital structure they can create their own folders. Also define how folders and files should be named, so that this is clear for everyone.
- Determine which physical documents and objects are stored in which location, and make sure this is done consistently.
Discarding and keeping
- Determine who will remove duplicates and harmful materials from the archive and collections, and when this needs to be done.
- Set storage periods for your archive. Which components want/need storing permanently, and which don’t? How long do you want/need to store the documents that are not stored permanently?
- Define what needs to happen when you have both a paper and a digital version of the same document: do you only save the digital or physical version, or both?
- Inform all employees about what proper storage of your archive and collections entails.
- Make agreements for an annual inspection of the archive/collection to check for damage (e.g. mould, pests, moisture...).
- Make agreements about how archive items can be looked up for internal use.
- Archive items are not normally loaned out in principle. But if they are, draw up a contract that lists the archive or collection pieces, and states how long they are being borrowed for and by whom.
- Documents and/or objects that are duplicates or which do not need to be stored in the long term can be loaned out, given away or sold. Make clear agreements about this and set conditions.
Make clear and unambiguous agreements for:
- file formats used;
- folder structure and use;
- document naming and version management;
- saving emails;
- making back-ups.
Organise an annual (digital) cleaning or trash day. Appoint someone to be responsible for preparing this day and maintaining an overview of the cleaning activities.
Make agreements for:
- what is digitised;
- how digitisation takes place (internally or externally, technical specifications, delivery method);
- how metadata is added to the items.
- Make clear agreements with employees and external stakeholders about copyrights with regard to (re-)using archive content from the moment it is created. Investigate whether this can be included in a contract.
- Document the archive content’s rights status and rightsholders from the moment of creation.
Make agreements about how your archive and/or collections are displayed.