Procedures taken out and added

Two procedures have been taken out:

  • Pre-entry - the advice on how to deal in advance with archaeological archives has been moved to the guidance notes of the suggested procedure for Object entry.
  • Transport - this has been combined with Location and movement control.

Two procedures have been added:

  • Reproduction was a procedure in the very first edition of Spectrum, but was later rolled into Use of collections. However, given the increasing importance of digital asset management, it seemed useful to bring Reproduction back as a procedure in its own right.
  • Collections review - this is a new procedure intended to help museums record the results of collections reviews in a systematic way (particularly when reviews cover items held by several museums, eg within a region or subject specialism).

The net result of these changes is that there are still 21 procedures.

Names of procedures

The names of some of the procedures have changed:

  • Loans in has become Loans in (borrowing objects)
  • Loans out has become Loans out (lending objects)
  • Inventory control has become Inventory
  • Conservation and collections care has become Collections care and conservation
  • Valuation control has become Valuation
  • Risk management has become Disaster planning
  • Insurance and indemnity management has become Insurance and indemnity
  • Loss and damage has become Damage and loss
  • Deaccession and disposal has become Disposal
  • Retrospective documentation has become Documentation planning
Order of procedures

The procedures have been re-ordered so that the eight primary procedures come first. These are the procedures that UK museums must have in place to meet the requirements of the Accreditation scheme. The Inventory procedure has been re-scoped so that it includes advice on tackling inventory backlogs that was previously in Retrospective documentation. The latter has been re-scoped and re-named Documentation planning, covering any kind of documentation project, whether retrospective or not. It is proposed that Inventory should be the Accreditation-related primary procedure, subject to agreement by the Accreditation partners.

Only 'the Spectrum standard' is mandatory

Initial consultation on Spectrum 5.0 revealed widespread confusion about which parts of Spectrum were mandatory, and which advisory. The format of the procedures has been changed to make it clearer that 'the Spectrum standard' is what you should aim to meet (particularly for the primary procedures if you are an Accredited museum in the UK). The 'suggested procedure' and 'guidance notes' are just that: suggestions and guidance only.

The 'minimum requirements' of each procedure have been reviewed, and illustrated with an example of why they are important. If we could not think of compelling reasons why existing requirements were important, they were dropped. In some cases, glaring omissions were put right by adding new requirements or amending existing ones.

Plain English

Although some technical terms are unavoidable, you will hopefully notice that the draft Spectrum 5.0 is written in a clearer style than previous editions. If you find passages that are not as clear as they might be, please do let us know in the comments section of the relevant web page.

Units of information

System developers will want to know that some changes are proposed to the 'units of information'.

Spectrum 5.0 - proposed changes to Units of information


While carrying out any of the Spectrum procedures you will need to record various items of information. Spectrum describes these information requirements at two levels: Units of information – the basic building blocks of information. Often (though not necessarily) these will correspond to the fields in collection management systems. Computerised systems that are Spectrum Compliant […]