"Cultural heritage institutions whether archives, libraries,
or museums gather, preserve, and interpret the record of human
thought, word, and action. The collections of these institutions
come in many forms and are managed according to different curatorial
traditions. Yet archivists, librarians, and curators share mutual
activities that reflect common social, administrative, fiduciary,
and legal responsibilities. Among these is the need to
document the origins, nature, and physical characteristics of
the materials they collect and preserve.
Among archivists the term documentation has several meanings.
It refers to a process: a broad range of activities undertaken
to create descriptive tools to make collections easier to use,
to establish the authenticity of holdings, and to satisfy administrative
needs. Documentation can also denote the products of this process,
the descriptive tools themselves: inventories/registers and
catalog records. Finally, the materials in archival collections
can be considered documentation in that they provide documentary
evidence and information concerning people, events, activities,
objects, and ideas."
There are three primary reasons for documenting the collections
of cultural heritage materials.
- To facilitate users' discovery of materials
- To establish the authenticity of holdings
- To satisfy administrative needs
is Documentation? in Introduction
to Archival Organization and Description:Access to Cultural
Standards and Digital Resource Management Program, Getty
Research Institute, J.
Paul Getty Trust
Documentation: All of the records, written and pictorial, accumulated
during the examination and treatment of a cultural property.
Where applicable, documentation includes the examination records
and report, treatment proposal, owner consent, the treatment
records and report, the recommendations for subsequent care,
samples taken from the cultural property and relevant correspondence.
The purpose of documentation is:to record the condition of the
to record information revealed during examination or other conservation
activities that assists in the understanding of the cultural
- to record the changes to the property due to conservation
activities, and the justification for those changes;
- to provide information helpful to future care and treatment
of the cultural property;
- to record agreements or understandings between the conservation
professional and the owner; and
- to provide documents that can be made available if and when
required for legal purposes.
D. Glossary, Code
of Ethics, Canadian
Association for Conservation of Cultural Property
and of the Canadian Association of Professional Conservators.
II, Museum Records,, Museum
Management Program, National
- Ch. 1: Documenting Museum Collections (download as PDF format
- Ch. 3: Cataloging (download as PDF format file)
- Appendix C: Cataloging Guidelines (download as PDF format file)
- Ch. 4: Inventory and Other Special Instructions (download
as PDF format file)
for the Recording of Monuments, Groups of Buildings and Sites,
Text ratified by the 11th ICOMOS General Assembly, held in Sofia,
Bulgaria, from 5 to 9 October 1996), ICOMOS.
Collections Management/Documentation Standards, Canadian
Heritage Information Network