Managing Collections for Archives and Libraries

ISO/TR 19814, Information and documentation – Collections management for archives and libraries provides guidance and recommendations in the planning, implementation, maintenance, and improvement of the preservation of archive and library collections through:

—   recommendations and guidance for preservation planning and ongoing management of physical collections in archives and libraries;

—   procedures for managing collections in the stacks, research, and reading rooms and conservation facilities, and while on exhibit and during transportation;

—   guidance and recommendations for appropriate enclosures and containers for archive and library collections.

These standards apply to preservation of archive and library physical collections of institutions and volumes small and large. They apply to all collections housed by an institution; their own collections and deposits or loans from other institutions and those collections being managed by governmental agencies. This guidance is intended for collections that are being preserved for long-term use and includes information on digital collections, born digital and digitized, for conservation.

Collections management addresses the risks from a holistic perspective. Collections intended for long-term use need to be managed to mitigate many risks, including catastrophic loss from fire and floods, risks of vandalism and theft, and instability of materials, audio/video materials and acetate film. This document stresses recognition of balancing the factors of use, significance, and vulnerability of the collections. 

This document is for collections managers and preservation administration and covers specifically the operations required to manage the collections in storage through preservation policy and planning within the institution.  ISO/TR 19815 is a companion document providing guidance for designing and implementing environmental conditions. Conservation treatment of individual items is not covered in this document.

We asked the working group convener and project leader, Ann Siebert, why this document is so important to her that she invested time in its development. This technical report provides basic information based on BSI 5454:2012, and updated information to support decisions and provide operational protocols within an archive or library institution in non-temperate as well as temperate locations. Previous standards (ISO 11799) focused on specifications for building an archive or library and had some information on this operational topic. The intention is to provide separate, sustainable operational guidance necessary to maintain the collections.  The technical report provides a succinct source for information that can be used in training staff on preservation policies.

This document will be of importance to a preservation manager in a national archive/library who is creating or reviewing and revising preservation policies or plans within an archive or library. It will help them to define the policies and procedures that serve the collection of information being preserved. 


We express our appreciation to Ann Siebert for providing the information for this article.