Access and Use

Providing access to collections is usually a fundamental part of an institution’s mission. When you provide access to collections, you also need to establish standards that ensure the safety of various objects in the collection. In this module, you will become familiar with different types of formal policies that are standard in the field. You will also understand that by identifying audiences, you can help establish proper methods of use.


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Discussion Questions
Libraries and archives have a long history of allowing public access to their various collections, but the meaning of “access” for museums has changed over time.

  • How long has your institution been open to the public?
  • What was understood by “access” when you first opened?
  • How about today?
  • Why the change?

During the webinar, we discussed many aspects of access and use in a variety of collections. In regards to your collection discuss the following:

  • What formal audiences have you identified to use your collection?
  • In what ways do you provide access to your collection?
  • What would you need in place to provide better access?
  • What kind of objects do you allow access to? Do you use object surrogates?
  • How does your institution deal with access to culturally sensitive objects?

Utilizing the game spinner have each participant take a turn at the spinner.  Read the question or topic to the group and discuss among the group. Use examples from your policy or institution. 

Access and Use

Note:  When viewing the samples a new browser page will open.   

Online Resources
Association of College and Research Libraries, ACRL/SAA Joint Statement on Access to Research Materials in Archives and Special Collections Libraries

Minnesota Historical Society, Request for Access to Museum Collections

National Park Service (NPS), Museum Handbook, Part 3: Museum Collection Use

Penn Museum, Access the Collections Policy

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