What do we mean by collection management?

From Our Toolkit

The term Collections Management refers to how you look organise and administer your collection.  It covers all aspects of working with collections from when they first come into your care through to the way they are used and stored. It is a distinct area of work from Collections Care.

Collections management is about ensuring your collections are recorded, accessible and safeguarded for future generations. This section will be looking at documenting and recording your collections and the associated information relating to objects and collections.

Why is collection management important?

Collections Management is the core responsibility of any organisation which holds a collection of any type of subject, person or people in order to safeguard the stories, objects or documents relating to that subject, person or people. Good collection management enables an organisation to:

Be accountable

  • It gives you knowledge of what you have and where it is
  • It clarifies the legal ownership of collections and individual items

Safeguard your collections

  • It improves the security of collections
  • It enables a quicker response if an item is missing
  • It gives you accountability when working with collections
  • It provides you with knowledge of storage needs / improved storage

Increase access to and use of collections

  • It can improve research and retrieval of information
  • It means you know what is in the collection
  • It means you know the condition and if items can be used
  • It helps to identify opportunities for use of the collections
  • It helps to plan displays, exhibitions and learning

Manage resources and budgets

  • It helps with work planning
  • It allows you to budget for care of the collections
  • It can support collection rationalisation projects
  • It allows you to plan staff resources
  • It informs conservation needs

Develop collections

  • It can inform future collecting
  • It helps to identify gaps in the collection for focussed collecting
  • It identifies strengths in the collection

Strengthen funding applications

  • It can builds public confidence
  • It demonstrates an adherence to sector standards
  • It demonstrates organisational responsibility and commitment
  • It demonstrates adherence to the relevant Code of Ethics
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