Loans out (lending objects) – the Spectrum standard

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You should have a policy on lending 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 lend objects?
  • Who can potentially borrow from you?
  • Why might you refuse loan requests?
  • Are there objects you would not normally consider lending?
  • What is the minimum and maximum length of a loan?
  • How much notice do you normally need to consider loan requests?
  • Who can authorise the loan of your objects?
  • What are your terms and conditions for lending?

You should also have a written procedure that explains the steps to follow when objects are being considered for loan, and when they are loaned. 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
All loan requests are assessed according to your policy. You treat all loan requests in a fair and transparent way.
The reason for each loan is clearly stated. Borrowers do not use your objects in a way that goes beyond the agreed purpose.
All loans are for fixed periods. It is clear to borrowers that loans are not ‘permanent’.

The loan procedure is not used unethically as a backdoor way to dispose of objects.

You have a written agreement signed by you and the borrower before any loan begins, with clear reference to the care standards they agree to meet and other terms and conditions. You have a formal record of what was agreed in case any problems arise during the loan.
Borrowers have appropriate insurance or indemnity for your objects while in their care (including in transit). The costs of any damage or loss during a loan out are covered.

Objects are not left without cover while they are being transported.

You keep a written record of all loans. You can consult the relevant loan file in case a problem arises after the object is returned to you.

Use of your collections by borrowers forms part of the recorded history of objects.


Date created: 2017

Publisher: Collections Trust