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Loans out (lending objects) – suggested procedure

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You should have a written procedure that explains the steps to follow when objects are being considered for loan, and when they are loaned. This suggested procedure is useful starting point. It is given as text and also as a workflow diagram. However you do it, your own procedure should meet the minimum requirements of the Spectrum standard.


Assessing the request


Open a file for the loan.

When you receive a request to borrow your objects, create a file for the potential loan and give it a Loan out reference number. Loan requests should be made in writing.


Record details of request.

Check that the potential borrower has provided the following information, and record it:

Object identification information

Details of each required object, including:

Loan out information


Consider the request.

Your loans out policy should set out your criteria for assessing requests to borrow objects, and who is authorised to make such decisions. It may be immediately obvious that a particular loan request falls outside your criteria, or you may decide in principle that the relevant objects could be loaned out if a satisfactory loan agreement can be reached in the light of further information.


Acknowledge the request.

Acknowledge the request, stating whether or not the objects are available for loan and if you are prepared to consider lending. If not, explain the reasons. Keep a copy in the loan file and make a note of the Document location so that you and others can find it in future.


Reserve the objects for the loan.

If objects might potentially be loaned out, make a note to reserve them in case someone else wants to use them during the proposed loan period. Go to and return from Use of collections.


Requesting further information


Request further information from the borrower.

If you are considering lending, send the potential borrower any general conditions you have, together with a request for further information about the loan. This may include a request for them to complete a facilities report (eg the standard facilities report form developed by the UK Registrars Group).


Consider the request.

In the light of the further information, consider whether you want to go ahead with lending the proposed objects. Factors might include:

The suitability of the proposed borrower, taking into account:

  • A reference to previous loans to a particular borrower or venue.
  • Information gained from a site visit to the proposed venue.
  • Consulting the relevant regional agency or the National Security Adviser.
  • Assurance that the object will be adequately covered in the event of damage or loss.
  • Necessary schedule to meet the loan.
  • Costs (eg of conservation work).
  • Specific requirements relating to the objects requested (eg couriers required).
  • Security considerations.
  • Environmental considerations.
  • Use to be made of collections (eg working objects).

If you decide not to lend, write and explain the reasons. Keep a copy in the loan file and make a note of the Document location so that you and others can find it in future.


Agreeing the loan


Provide the borrower with information for each object.

If you decide to lend, provide the prospective borrower with the following information for each object:

  • Its object number.
  • Object description.
  • Its valuation.
  • Its condition.
  • Its display requirements.
  • Its environmental requirements.
  • Its handling requirements.
  • Any potential risks.
  • Its dimensions.
  • Photographs for research or publicity (if rights permit).
  • Details of any relevant intellectual property rights and associated licensing requirements.
  • Any additional descriptive and historical information as required.
  • The estimated costs that the borrower will be expected to meet (eg conservation work, bespoke fames or mounts).

Record the final conditions of the loan and create the loan agreement.

Finalise the conditions of loan and create a loan agreement based on them (see Note 1). Maintain the related file containing correspondence, object information, and any other documents, so that they can easily be found and referred to.

Record the authorisation of the loan:

Loan out information


Both parties sign loan agreement.

When the loan is confirmed, appropriate agreements should be signed by lender and borrower. The agreement should refer to all conditions for the loan. Add your copy of the signed agreement to the loan file make a note of the Document location so that you and others can find it in future.


Preparing for the loan


Check and record, with images, the condition of objects for loan.

Go to Condition checking and technical assessment.


Carry out any necessary conservation work, including bespoke mounts and frames.

Go to Collections care and conservation.


Confirm that all security conditions have been met.

If applicable, confirm that a satisfactory report has been received from the National Security Adviser, or another qualified individual, and that all security conditions have been met. If the report is unsatisfactory, consider whether to give the borrower an opportunity to comply fully with the security standards required for the loan before any final decision is taken.


Obtain evidence of insurance or indemnity arrangements and update records.

Obtain evidence of insurance or indemnity arrangements before despatching the objects. Update records, and go to Insurance and indemnity.


Sending the objects


Make arrangements for sending the objects and confirm their safe arrival.

Go to Object exit and from there to Location and movement control.


Monitoring the loan


Monitor the condition and location of the objects during the loan.

Monitor loans by updating the following information according to the loan agreement:

  • Object condition (at least annually).
  • Environmental and display conditions (at least annually).
  • Insurance and indemnity policies (before renewal dates).

Extending the loan


Does the borrower want to extend the loan?

If the borrower wants to extend a loan beyond the fixed term of the relevant loan agreement, go back to the steps for agreeing the loan. Both the request to extend and your response should be in writing, although you may not always need to draw up a completely new loan agreement. In any event, you should check that the information included in any existing agreement is still current. This might involve a new Valuation and updating Insurance and indemnity.


Arranging for return


Confirm the arrangements for the return of the objects, and plan their return to you.

Go to Location and movement control.


Closing the loan


Invoice the borrower for any remaining costs.

Invoice for any remaining costs incurred according to the terms of the loan agreement.


Acknowledge safe receipt of the objects and confirm that all loan conditions have been met.

Acknowledge safe receipt of the objects by returning the borrower’s receipt and confirm that all the final conditions of loan have been met (eg payment of costs, receipt of catalogues).


Add relevant information about the loan to the objects’ catalogue records.

This might include references to exhibitions and other uses that form part of the history of your objects. Go to Use of collections.


Close the loan file.

Make final changes to the loan information. Record any information, such as details of security incidents or courier reports, which may be relevant in case of future requests from the borrower. Maintain the loan file as a permanent record and audit trail of the loan.


Guidance notes


Note 1: Loan agreements

The Collections Trust website includes links to some examples of loan agreements. Such agreements usually include the following:

  • Object related information, including: standards of care, display, handling, usage (eg working exhibits, machinery), security and environmental arrangements, condition reporting and monitoring, agreement over the nature and extent of any investigative, intrusive or remedial conservation that needs to be carried out, the borrower’s right to take action (eg where a loaned object is found to be infested).
  • Insurance and indemnity requirements.
  • Costs and responsibilities, including: conservation, transport, staff time and unforeseen costs.
  • Terms of reproduction and intellectual rights.
  • Packing, transport, courier and other shipping requirements.
  • Arrangements for scientific research loans, including for purposes of destructive analysis or technical preparation. These should include a condition about the extent of destruction or preparation, and a statement of ownership of the products of this research. See also Note 2.
  • Additional terms and conditions as agreed with the lender, including: the method of acknowledgement for labels, the owner’s rights to their object during the loan period, the borrowing organisation’s non-acceptance of responsibility to trace the owner should circumstances change during the period of loan.
  • Renewal application date, if the loan is to be renewed.
  • Contact details, emphasising the responsibility of the lender to keep the borrower informed of any changes.

When borrowing from another organisation, the situation is likely to arise where the lender has a standard agreement for loans out and the borrower has one for loans in. The use of both agreements is not recommended, and the onus is on the borrower to accept the agreement of the lender as owner of the object. If necessary, draft a one-off agreement that covers all relevant points to the satisfaction of both parties.

Note 2: Scientific research loans

It is recognised that within scientific collections, loans are usually more frequent and less formal. Loans are usually organised under an international tradition, often discipline-specific. For example, you may already have established loan agreements with other bodies, or the loan itself may carry an agreement with it for return with the acknowledgement of receipt.

Date created: 2017

Publisher: Collections Trust