Documenting collections

The National Archives provides advice and guidance on:

  • how to formally document ownership
  • how to improve access to your collections information once records have been catalogued

Archive Service Accreditation defines current good practices and agreed standards for documenting collections and provides guidance on meeting the standard. In this section we provide some basic information about the different activities which are involved in this work.

Archivists routinely gather and record information about their collections from the point of accessioning onwards, both to manage and provide access to collections effectively. Collections Information includes any information collected from depositors or information generated during accessioning, appraisal of collections, cataloguing and the creation finding aids, and which records the location and movement of collections.

This draft guidance will help archivists write a Collections Information Policy which reflects their own archive service's approach to recording and improving information held about collections at the archive service. It is aimed at staff who work in any type of archive service tasked with writing a Collections Information Policy.

Developing a Collections Information Policy (PDF, 0.51MB)

Loan agreements and accessions registers

Find guidance on drawing up loan agreements between repositories and private owners, for use by archivists.

Cataloguing systems and archives networks

There are many different tools which can be used to record information about collections.