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You should have a policy covering the condition checking and technical assessment of objects. This could either be a standalone document or part of a wider collections management policy. Either way, in deciding your policy you will most likely need to consider these questions:
- Who is responsible for checking the condition of your objects?
- How often will you normally check the condition of objects in different categories of risk?
- What factors should trigger specific condition checks (eg other collection management procedures)?
- What standard of checking and recording (eg images) is required for each procedure, and do the right people have the skills and training needed?
- What should happen if there are concerns about the condition of objects?
- Do you allow technical assessments that involve damaging objects by taking samples for destructive testing?
You should also have a written procedure that explains the steps to follow when managing and carrying out condition checks and technical assessments. Spectrum’s suggested procedure is a useful starting point, but however you do it, your own procedure should meet the following minimum requirements:
|Minimum requirement||Why this is important|
|You monitor and record the condition of your collections according to the schedule set out in your policy.||You build up information over time that can help you plan the care of your collection as a whole.|
|Your staff and volunteers know when a condition check is needed as part of another procedure, and either how to do it or who to ask.||You check the condition of objects at points of risk (eg before and after moving them).
You have well-documented evidence should any problem arise over alleged damage.
|You schedule condition checks as appropriate after any significant change to an object’s use or environment.||Any adverse impact is picked up before lasting damage is done.|
|All condition checks are documented and the information can be accessed via the relevant object numbers.||You can find condition information for specific objects when you need it.|
|You record the date, name of the condition checker and the reason for checking.||You can audit condition checks.
You can flag up problems with other procedures if condition checks are not recorded when they should be.
|Your staff and volunteers know what to do if they have concerns about the condition of any objects.||Potential problems are reported to the right people in a timely way.|