Standards > Records Management

Standards > Architectural Records Records ManagementCollections Management

Schrock, Nancy Carlson and Mary Campbell Cooper. Records in Architectural Offices: Suggestions for the Organization, Storage and Conservation of Architectural Office Archives. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Massachusetts Committee for the Preservation of Architectural Records, Third Revised Edition, June 1992.


"A document is recorded information regardless of medium or characteristics and has three components: a physical base (clay tablets, papyrus, wood, parchment, paper, film, computer tape, laser disks); an impression on the physical base, made by either manual or mechanical means (such as a pen on paper or an electrical impulse on computer tape); and information conveyed by the impression upon the base. 'Document' is the usual archival term for a single item."

Trudy Huskamp Peterson, "Using the finding Aids to Archive and Manuscript Collections," in: Teaching bibliographic skill in history: a sourcebook for historians and librarians, ed. Charles a. D'Aniello (New York: Greenwood Press, 1993), p. 267.

"Records are all documentary material, regardless of physical form or characteristics, made or received and maintained by an institution or organization in pursuance of its legal obligations or in the transaction of its business." Records are unique. They result from the activities of the institution." (Peterson, p. 267.) All records are documents, but not all documents are records.

Archival Documents, Primary Sources, Manuscripts and Archives Tutorial, Manuscripts and Archives, Yale University Library, New Haven, CT.


Reference: Records Management, National Archives & Research Administration, Library of Congress.

There are many, though similar, definitions of records management. One common one is "the field of management responsible for the systematic control of the creation, maintenance, use, and disposition of records." From the Federal perspective, it is the planning, controlling, directing, organizing, training, promoting, and other managerial activities involved in records creation, maintenance and use, and disposition in order to achieve adequate and proper documentation of the policies and transactions of the Federal Government and effective and economical management of agency operations.

Records include all books, papers, maps, photographs, machine-readable materials, or other documentary materials, regardless of physical form or characteristics, made or received by the Society and in connection with the transaction of public business and preserved or appropriate for preservation as evidence of the organization, functions, policies, decisions, procedures, operations, or other activities of the Society or because of the informational value of the data in them.

Records management addresses the life cycle of records, i.e., the period of time that records are in the custody of the Society. The life cycle usually consists of three stages:

  1. Creation or receipt
  2. Maintenance and use
  3. Disposition or inclusion in Archives

Tools for maintaining and using records include file plans, indexes, controlled vocabularies, taxonomies, data dictionaries, and access and security procedures. The main tool used to manage the disposition of records is the records schedule.


The Evidence in Hand: Report of the Task Force on the Artifact in Library Collections, Council on Library and Information Resources, November 2001.

"While the report mostly considers printed paper objects such as books, newspapers, and ephemera, The Evidence in Hand is worth reading by all records professionals because it seriously and rather evenhandedly evaluates the difficult question of the maintenance of originals that may be deteriorating or that have been reformatted to enhance their accessibility." [Review reference]

"Certainly the loss of so much of our documentary heritage due to the technical problems of modern recordkeeping will do more to make our records inaccessible for the purposes of accountability, memory, and evidence they were intended to provide."

Cox, Richard J. Declarations, Independence, and Text in the Information Age, First Monday, 1999.

Museum Management Program (MMP), National Park Service

The Museum Management Program (MMP) is part of the National Center for Cultural Resources Stewardship and Partnership Programs that provides national program support functions for park resources and advises the Associate Director, Cultural Resource Stewardship and Partnership in Washington, DC, on policy. MMP supports development and coordination of servicewide policies, standards, and procedures for managing museum collections, including natural, cultural, archival and manuscript materials.

Museum Handbook, Part I: Museum Collections, Museum Management Program (MMP), National Park Service

This document provides guidance on, and outlines procedures for, museum record keeping, including accessioning, cataloging, loans, deaccessioning, photography, and reporting annual collection management data.

Museum Handbook, Part II: Museum Records, Museum Handbook, Museum Management Program, National Park Service.

  • Appendix D: Museum Archives and Manuscript Collections (PDF file)
  • Appendix K: Photography (PDF file)
  • Appendix L: Bibliography (PDF file)

reCollections: Caring for Collections Across Australia, Heritage Collections Council, 2000

This set of practical guidebooks is designed by the Council for use principally by non-conservators who are working with Australia’s cultural heritage. The guidebooks are also a teacher-friendly resource which can be used in professional development workshops. Many of Australia’s most experienced conservators have been involved in researching, writing and editing reCollections, through the Conservation Training Australia consortium, led by Artlab Australia, which first developed the package, and through the Collections Management and Conservation Working Party of the Council.

Registration step by step: when an object enters the museum, CIDOC Fact Sheet 1, prepared by the International Committee for Documentation of the International Council of Museums ( ICOM-CIDOC), July 2000.

Collections Management Software Review – Comparative Analysis, Canadian Heritage Information Network (CHIN), Canadian Heritage.

"Collections Management Software Review is meant to assist museums in integrating in-house systems into their institutions and to encourage them to take advantage of the growing availability, cost effectiveness and user friendliness of current software. This Review represents the third edition in an ongoing series of evaluations of collections management software for museums. Its intention is to outline the suitability of specific software to museum discipline, collections size, museum functions, and hardware and software environment. It also analyzes vendor reliability, support requirements, customization possibilities, costs and more. The Review also ensures that the software meets CHIN and international standards and allows for importing and exporting data."

Vital Records and Records Disaster Mitigation and Recovery: An Instructional Guide, 1999 Web Edition, National Archives and Records Administration, Library of Congress.

Principles for the Recording of Monuments, Groups of Buildings and Sites, ratified by the 11th ICOMOS General Assembly, held in Sofia, Bulgaria, from 5 to 9 October 1996, ICOMOS.

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