Items that are created, managed, and preserved in digital form. This is in contrast to physical items of which a digitized version is created.


A collecting entity’s storage is considered to be at capacity when all collections for which the entity accepts preservation responsibility are stored, with spaces for all objects or materials within established standards for space for items.


Cataloging is the process of entering informational data or “metadata” about an object into a collection catalog or database. This process involves assigning unique identification numbers to individual objects, or in the case of archives, fonds, and attaching relevant accompanying documentation to the item such as curatorial worksheets, photographs, condition assessments, and accession or deaccession information. This can be carried out in analog or digital form. Objects which have been accessioned, but not yet cataloged are considered to be within the entity’s collection, but part of their records backlog and are at significant risk of disassociation.


Conservation treatment is hands-on, alternative (“interventive”) work performed in order to preserve and/or restore objects. Only trained conservators who have experience in the appropriate material (such as paintings, textiles, furniture, photographs, books, paper, archaeological objects, ethnographic objects, and natural history specimens) should perform conservation treatments on objects.


A DAM is a system that stores, shares, and organizes digital assets in a central location. It assists in the activities associated with the creation, storing, retrieving, and backing up of digital assets.


The process of replicating a non-digital (analog) item in digital form. This is typically accomplished through the use of scanning equipment and/or digital photography. The process also typically encompasses the creation of administrative, descriptive, and other information (“metadata”- see below) that accompanies the resulting digital representation, in order to facilitate its preservation and usability. Digitization projects can be ongoing or ad hoc, depending on the needs of the entity.


A comprehensive, systematic, emergency preparedness plan provides a means for recognizing and preventing risks, and for responding effectively to emergencies.


Environmental controls provide an appropriate climate for collections items depending on their material and types of damage that can affect them. Environmental controls protect collections whether in storage or on exhibit including lighting, heating, air conditioning, dehumidifying, and humidifying.


Spaces where collection material is viewable and accessible to the public on display, this may include visible storage in addition to spaces with exhibitions and interpretive materials.


An external contractor or consultant is someone who is not a permanent or temporary employee of an organization who can be contracted to conduct conservation or preservation activities.


Finding aids are tools that help users find information in a specific record group, collection, or series of archival materials. Examples of finding aids include published and unpublished inventories, container, and folder lists, card catalogs, calendars, indexes, registers, and institutional guides. Formal publications that help a user find information regarding a record group, collection, or series of archival materials are also finding aids.


The FTE units, or equivalent employees, working at your institution. The ratio of the total number of hours worked during a period, whether part-time, full-time, temporary, or contracted, by the number of working hours considered to be full-time employment. To ensure comparability, 40 hours per week has been set as the measure of full-time employment. Jn other words, one FTE is equivalent to one employee working full-time, equal to 40 hours of work per week. For example, if three employees work part-time at 20 hours of work per week, this is equal to 1.5 FTEs.


Workers at the entity that are working at least 30 hours per week. This can include staff paid on either an hourly or salary basis.


An assessment based on visual inspection of the collection and the areas where it is exhibited or stored.


Refers to the systems and structures which are used to define the oversight body for an organization. The oversight body will define policy, provide leadership, manage, coordinate, and monitor procedures and resources, and develop long-term strategy and direction for an organization.


The overarching or parent organization which your institution makes up a part of. While your collection is managed in relation to your specific site, your governance is overseen by this authority (i.e., you are one of the California State Parks, or a University Museum, reporting to the University).


Depending on the material of the collection item, humidity levels within the environment need to be adjusted to control for deterioration or damage. Actively monitoring this aspect of storage spaces and exhibition spaces is needed to provide a complete picture of your institution’s humidity levels and controls.


Integrated pest management strategies encourage ongoing maintenance and housekeeping to ensure that pests will not find a hospitable environment in a cultural heritage entity. Activities include building inspection and maintenance; climate control; restriction of food and plants; regular cleaning; proper storage; control over incoming collections to avoid infestation of existing collections; and routine monitoring for pests.


Inventorying is the process by which an itemized list of objects that an entity has accessioned or received via loan(s) and accepted preservation responsibility for, is checked against the physical location of the objects by an examiner. A complete one hundred percent inventory should be carried out periodically to ensure that the entity is operating under best practices for security purposes.


Controlling light levels can include UV protection screens on windows, UV blocking sleeves on tubular fluorescent lights, window shades or covers, storing items in boxes for protection, LED lights in exhibit cases, storing items away from windows, exhibiting items especially prone to damage away from direct light or glazing with UV blocking glass, and turning off the lights in areas that are not occupied.


This may be your municipality, city, or county emergency services. Best practices dictate that your institution’s emergency/disaster plan and collection needs are incorporated into the overarching emergency response plan for your location.


A document that describes a multi-year course of action to meet an institution’s overall preservation needs for its collection.


A summary of basic information akin to that found in catalog records to facilitate finding, storing, and managing digital objects. Created manually or by automated processes, types of metadata include administrative, descriptive, preservation, rights management, structural, and technical.


Off-site storage can be physical, or cloud storage that contains collections items separate from the primary location of the entity. Off-site storage can be either owned by the entity or rented for the purpose of collections storage.


Onsite storage can be physical or network-based storage that contains collection items on the main site or at a branch location of the organization which is also a place for research or includes public-facing activities.


Outdoors in relation to collections are any spaces that do not have both permanent walls and roofs shielding them from the elements.


Regular workers at the entity that are working less than 30 hours per week. This can include staff paid on either an hourly or salary basis.


Preservation management involves keeping a balance between collection-level activities such as environmental control, which can be difficult and/or costly to manage but provide the greatest long-term benefit for the most materials, and item-level activities such as conservation treatment, which are often more easily understood and managed but can have limited effect, especially if the items are returned to a damaging environment.


Following the manufacturer’s instructions for keeping playback machines clean and well-maintained.


Preservation reformatting is the action by which at-risk materials are copied to new formats, such as microfilm, paper facsimile copies or digital reproductions.


The mitigation of deterioration and damage to cultural property through the formulation and implementation of policies and procedures for appropriate environmental conditions; handling and maintenance procedures for storage, exhibition, packing, transport and use; integrated pest management emergency preparedness and response; and reformatting/duplication. Preventative conservation is an ongoing process that continues throughout the life of cultural property and does not end with interventive preservation treatments.


Depending on the material of the collection item, humidity levels with the environment need to be adjusted to control for deterioration or damage. At times, such as during the summer or winter, less or more humidity may be required to prevent deterioration. Actively monitoring this aspect of storage and exhibition space is needed to provide a complete picture of your institution’s humidity levels and controls.


A security system is a wide-ranging task in which a series of mutually complementary measures are suggested to provide a layered approach to risk by reinforcing a collecting institution against intrusion, controlling access and circulation, and protecting its contents. Not all of these measures may be in place at your organization. The recommended process for the best security system would include: 1) physical measures such as quality locks, robust doors, and windows to prevent, deter and delay intrusion at the perimeter; 2) electronic systems such as intruder alarms to detect any breaches of the perimeter and facilitate a response; 3) the combined use of physical barriers, access control, CCTV and security officers to maintain safety and protect property while the premises are open to the public, and; 4) the use of physical and electronic systems to ensure the safety of individual exhibits and prevent theft from display casings.


Change(s) in an item’s physical or chemical state necessitating major treatment or reformatting or resulting in total loss of access.


Staff training could be provided either by internal or external experts in conservation and preservation and could cover a wide range of topics from digital preservation, handling, mount making, etc. Staff training can be considered needed if there are essential basic skills or knowledge related to preventative conservation missing within your staff team.


Storage furniture or equipment are protective enclosures made of chemically stable materials that provide both physical support and chemical protection for objects. Examples include: Shelving, drawers, freezers, cabinets, etc.


Depending on the material of the collection item, temperature levels within the environment need to be adjusted to control for deterioration or damage. At times, such as during the summer or winter, colder or hotter temperatures might be required to prevent deterioration. Actively monitoring this aspect of storage spaces and exhibition spaces is needed to provide a complete picture of your institution’s temperature levels and controls.


Material has not been recently accessed by staff for visual inspection and/or the condition is unknown.


Material needing major treatment or reformatting to make it stable enough for use, and/or the material is located in an enclosure or environment that is causing damage or deterioration. For machine-readable collections, deterioration of media and/or obsolescence of play-back equipment or hardware/software threatens loss of content.


Volunteer workers are defined as those who complete work for free. Their work is offered without promise, expectation, or receipt of compensation.