Standards > Stewardship
The term 'stewardship' is used throughout to describe the entire
range of demands and responsibilities associated with the management
of cultural heritage collections, whether books, manuscripts,
objects or digital material. Effective stewardship is vital
to explore fully the potential of our collections to enrich
and improve peoples lives. It is the only bedrock upon
which we can build a safe future for those collections, leaving
them intact for our successors.
Collections Management Preserving the Past for the Future,
Re:source, The Council
for Museums, Archives and Libraries, London, England.
The steward, or “keeper of the hall”, was the official
in a medieval household responsible for its management. Under
the feudal system, it was the lord who had all of the legal
authority. The steward had only a delegation of that authority,
and a mandate to administer the estate. His stewardship of the
estate was all-inclusive, from the broadest policies to the
most trivial details. For the estate to function properly, the
steward needed to hold himself accountable for all that took
place in the household. He might delegate; but he would maintain
an interest in all happenings, make it his business to know
all of the operational details, and know when to intervene and
when to concentrate on other matters. He would need to gather
information, both from reports by the staff and from actual
inspection of the estate. He would need to ensure that the staff
was properly trained, and would understand their tasks as much
as possible, to the point of being the primary instructor for
all household tasks. It was, of course, an enormous responsibility.
But the best steward would be the one who felt the responsibility
on the deepest level, who identified with the role and carried
it out with devoted industry.
and representations, The
Stewardship Project edited by O.T. Ford.