Loans in (borrowing objects) – the Spectrum standard

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You should have a policy covering the borrowing 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:

  • Why might you borrow objects?
  • What legal and ethical issues will you consider before borrowing objects?
  • What is the minimum and maximum length of a loan period?
  • Who can authorise loan agreements for you to borrow objects?
  • What steps will you take to check the provenance of potential loans?
  • How will you deal with borrowed objects if the original lender can no longer be contacted?

You should also have a written procedure that explains the steps to follow when you borrow objects. 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 have a written agreement signed by you and the lender before any loan begins, with clear reference to the care standards you will meet and other terms and conditions. You have a formal record of what was agreed in case any problems arise during the loan.
The reason for each loan is clearly stated. You do not use borrowed objects in a way that goes beyond the purpose agreed with lenders.
All loans are for fixed periods. You can review longer-term loans at regular intervals.

You do not create a future backlog of objects whose ownership status is unclear.

You have appropriate insurance or indemnity cover for borrowed objects while they are your responsibility (including in transit). You are able to borrow high-value objects without unacceptable risk.

You do not leave objects without cover while they are being transported.

You have up-to-date information about the location and physical wellbeing of borrowed objects during the loan. You can give lenders data on the environmental conditions in which their objects are displayed.

Borrowed objects do not get mislaid whilst in your care, risking damage to your reputation.

You keep a written record of all loans. You can consult the relevant loan file in case a problem with an object becomes apparent after it has left your care.


Date created: 2017

Publisher: Collections Trust