Agenda item

Collections Information and Access Policies

Joint report of the Deputy Chief Executive and Director for Families and Communities (Staffordshire County Council) and Director of Resources – Assistant Chief Executive (Stoke-on-Trent City Council)


The Committee considered a joint report of the Deputy Chief Executive and Director of Families and Communities (Staffordshire County Council) and the Chief Operating Officer – Resources Directorate (Stoke-on-Trent City Council) (schedule 5 to the signed minutes) seeking approval to the Archive Service’s Collections Information and Access policies.


The Committee noted that, at their meeting on 26 March 2015, it was resolved the Archive Service should apply for Archive Service Accreditation. As part of the accreditation process the Service had created two new policies (Collections Information Policy and Access Policy) to meet the requirements of the standard.


The County Museum Service, which formed part of the County’s Archive and Heritage Service, was also renewing its application to hold the Museum Accreditation Standard.


Both accreditation standards provided guidance on the types of policies and procedures required to comply with the standard and set the benchmark for good service provision, collections care and public access.


The Collections Information Policy detailed the policies and processes in place to ensure that collections were documented properly from the time of their receipt into the care of the Archive Service, and included:


  • Accessioning/point of deposit
  • Depositor records, ownership and legal status of collections
  • Access restrictions
  • Publicising new accessions
  • Disposals and withdrawals
  • Location and movement control
  • Finding aids and cataloguing
  • Conservation and preservation information
  • Staffing and use of external funding to support cataloguing
  • Filing systems and electronic systems to record information
  • Plans for improving the quality of collections information.



The Access Policy detailed how access was provided to Archive and Heritage Service Collections, information on restrictions to access, where charges might apply and links to other relevant policies.  It also describes the various means of access available including:


  • Onsite access to collections and the community who use the service
  • Expectations for visitors and standards of service
  • Security procedures
  • Handling and preservation guidelines
  • Use of cameras and methods of copying
  • Access restrictions, why they may apply and how to request access
  • Remote access methods
  • Learning and engagement activities to widen access.


The Access Policy provided links to other policies, guidelines and content to direct people to more information. Appended to the policy was the Service Charter which contained standards of service that customers could expect.


It was noted that approval of these policies by the governing body was a requirement of both the Archive and Museum Accreditation Standards. The policies would also support the planning of improvements to collections information and widening access to collections.


During the discussion which ensued a Member queried whether the two Policies took account of the specific needs of disabled people. In reply the Deputy Chief Executive and Director of Families and Communities said that all of the Archives and Heritage Service buildings were compliant with the requirements of the Disabilities Act 2014. However, there was no need for reference to be made in these policies as provision had been made elsewhere.


The Member representative of the County Council highlighted the valuable work undertaken by volunteers in the running of the Archive and Heritage Service without which it would not be a success. In reply, the Deputy Chief Executive acknowledged their contribution and said that recognition was made in the Service’s Annual Report. In addition the Authorities hosted a joint annual Christmas party to which all volunteers were invited.


The Chairman sought clarification of the security arrangements for displays and exhibitions in particular at the City Museum during a period of refurbishment. In reply the Deputy Chief Executive and Director for Families and Communities said that artefacts and historical documents were always displayed in lockable cases to prevent damage and theft.            


RESOLVED – (a) That the report be received and noted.


(b) That the Collections Information and Access policies be approved.


Supporting documents: