Suggested Template for a Collection Policy

At the Beijing Congress in 2012, the FIAF Executive Committee charged the Programming and Access to Collections Commission with the task of producing guidelines for archival collections policies, together with a template for a model policy to facilitate the making of policies for affiliates not yet having one. The guidelines were published in JFP #89 (available to read on Calameo HERE or as a PDF to download HERE), and the template now follows below. Examples of collection polices published by FIAF affiliates can be accessed HERE.


Suggested Template:

The seven sections of this document cover the general requirements of any collection policy. They may be condensed or added to, as appropriate.


1. The document should have a preamble in which you identify your organisation by its name and status.

For example:

Xxxx Xxxx Archive is a not-for profit organisation funded in large part by the government of Yyyyy [your country or region, etc]


2. Here you define your accountability.

For example:

As such, Xxxx Xxxx Archive is accountable to the Treasury and taxpayers of Yyyyy.


3. You provide your organisation’s Mission Statement.

For example:

The primary purpose of Xxxx Xxxx Archive is to acquire, preserve, document and make accessible the moving image heritage of Yyyyy, whether this be cinema or television, film or video or digital formats, related publications such as books and periodicals, as well as ephemera such as programmes and press books.


4. You define your Collection Policy.

For example:

To this end, Xxxx Xxxx Archive engages with the cinema and television industries of Yyyyy as well as with other organisations and individuals who produce, distribute, broadcast or collect moving images and related materials in Yyyyy. Xxxx Xxxx Archive tries to ensure that artefacts which fall within the remit of the Mission Statement are brought into the Archive, stored in optimum conditions to ensure their long-term survival, and documented to a degree which makes them readily researchable by academics, programmers and other potential users.


5. Here you outline various components of the Policy so that you explain, very simply, and in broad terms

a) what kinds of moving images your organisation collects

For example:

The Xxxx Xxxx Archive strives to acquire films and television programmes produced in Yyyyy, in their original formats (35mm, 16mm, S-8mm, 1” videotape, etc), but will not reject relevant items simply because they are not in their original format. Materials produced outside Yyyyy may also be considered if they have some kind of cultural relevance.

b) how these moving images and related artefacts are preserved by your organisation

For example:

In the Xxxx Xxxx Archive, moving image materials are stored in air-conditioned vaults, with nitrate copies segregated into suitable fire-retardant areas; related paper materials are held in air-conditioned storage areas in (where appropriate) acid-free boxes.

c) the extent to which all these materials may be made accessible

For example:

Ultimately, the intention is to make all materials in the collection accessible in one way or another where this does not compromise their long-term preservation. In practice, this will probably mean that only copies additional to moving image preservation elements may be viewed and that non-moving-image materials may be handled only under the supervision of the Librarian.

d) what kind of audiences should benefit from the existence of your institution

For example:

The collection is preserved and documented in order that it may be made accessible - with appropriate rights authorisation - to audiences in the Xxxx Xxxx Archive’s own cinemas, or in such other cinemas as may be designated by the Archive’s Technical Officer, or it may be made accessible to students and researchers able to visit the Xxxx Xxxx Archive’s premises or the premises of accredited organisations. Suitable copies may also be loaned - with appropriate rights authorisation - to colleagues in other archives around the world.


6. Your Policy should also provide statements concerning materials not considered as part of the collection.

a) Describe briefly what your institution does not want to collect

For example:

Yyyyy has an institution responsible for the national collection of non-fiction films and television programmes about war (the Zzz Zzz Archive), and Xxxx Xxxx Archive does not wish to compete in this area. Any non-fiction material offered to it relating to wars and conflicts will therefore be handed on to Zzz Zzz , though fiction films may be retained.

b) Describe briefly what will happen to any material already in the collection but which does not conform to the parameters of your Mission Statement and should therefore be disposed of.

For example:

If holdings are found to include elements not considered relevant under the terms of the Xxxx Xxxx Archive’s Mission Statement, subject to any necessary donor authorisation, the Archive will seek to ensure that these elements are passed on to a more appropriate institution where their long-term survival will be assured. If no such organisation can be found, the elements in question will be destroyed, with the agreement of the donor, by whatever means is considered safe and satisfactory by the Technical Officer.

c) Outline the institutional parameters that guarantee that disposal is necessary, is not undertaken in order to generate profit, and is not undertaken without serious consideration of the status of each item.

For example:

The Xxxx Xxxx Archive will never dispose of materials which fall under the parameters of the Mission Statement, and nor will it sell off materials (even those which fall outside those parameters) purely for the sake of making money.   All disposal decisions must be agreed, in writing, by three senior Archive staff, one of whom must be the Chief Curator.


7. Cultural and technical ideas change over time, and those changes should be reflected in regular revisions of the Collection Policy. This should be stated from the outset.

For example:

In order to take account of social and technical advances both in Yyyyy and in the moving image archiving world, this policy will be reconsidered, and, if considered appropriate, revised, every three years. All changes must be agreed by the Technical Officer, the Access Officer, and the Chief Curator, who may , if they wish, seek advice from colleagues within the Xxxx Xxxx Archive and experts outside.

Paolo Cherchi Usai, Jon Wengström, Elaine Burrows for PACC, January 2014