What is Benchmarks in Collection Care?
Benchmarks in Collection Care is a self assessment checklist, which sets out clear and realistic benchmarks for the care of collections. Benchmarks is a management tool which should be used as part of an organisation’s planning cycle to assess and plan collections care activity and measure progress against those plans. Specifically, Benchmarks can be used to:
- highlight the importance of collections care
- identify achievement in collection care
- give an indication of which improvements in collections care might be needed
- provide a practical framework for measuring progress, and creating forward plans
- provide a framework for managing risk to your collection
Benchmarks in Collections Care 2.0 is available in two formats for download, a PDF or an Excel spreadsheet. Or you can purchase the PDF as a publication.
Who is Benchmarks in Collection Care for?
Benchmarks is for any organisation with a long term mission of preservation for collections. It is specifically aimed at museums, libraries and archives – it includes library collections, but is not designed for use by public lending libraries or reference libraries.Collections can include:
- 2D and 3D items
- digital and physical items
- working and handling items
- items on display, or in store
- items displayed or stored in open sites
What are benchmarks?
A benchmark is an agreed level of performance by which something can be measured. In Benchmarks in Collection Care individual benchmarks are drawn from published sector standards and used to define, measure and compare different areas of collection care activity.
What is the difference between Benchmarks 1.0 and 2.0?
Benchmarks 1.0 and 2.0 differ in the following ways:
- The text in the Benchmarks 2.0 checklist has been updated to reflect current practice
- The Glossary and Sources of Help and Advice for Benchmarks 2.0 sections have been extensively updated, and act as an integral support to the checklist
- The Policy section in the checklist has been completely rewritten to reflect PAS 197: Code of Practice for Cultural Collections Management
- A ‘Partly Met’ tick box has been introduced to the checklist, so that now benchmarks can be ‘Met’, ‘Partly Met’ or ‘Not Met’
- The Benchmarks 1.0 checklist sections remain, but Environmental Monitoring and Control has been split into two separate sections, Environmental Monitoring and Environmental Control
- In some sections, levels of attainment have been raised to reflect a raising of sector standards
- The layout has been changed, so that the user now works down each Benchmarks section through the three different levels one at a time, rather than viewing the three levels on one page
- Functionality has been added to the Excel version of Benchmarks 2.0 to enable the user to manipulate data collected
How does Benchmarks relate to standards?
Benchmarks is drawn from published collections care standards and initiatives – it is not a standard but a management tool which provides a way of assessing your collection against current collections care standards. There is a list of relevant standards under Sources of Help and Advice. There are also broader legal standards and requirements, such as health and safety, which will impact on your collections care activity. It is expected that your organisation understands and complies with these, and they are not referred to in Benchmarks, however for your guidance they are also listed in Sources of Help and Advice.
Benchmarks and Accreditation
Completing a Benchmarks exercise is not an Accreditation requirement, however it is one way that you can assess your collections care, and plan and prioritise improvements. The 2011 Accreditation Standard requires a Collections Care and Conservation Policy and a Collections Care and Conservation Plan, both of which are informed by an assessment of collections. You will need to decide how you want to carry out that assessment, and Benchmarks is one option that is available to you. The advantage of using Benchmarks is that it is a tried and trusted management tool that has recently been updated to comply with best practice.