Course:1: Archives and Archivists
Lesson:Lesson Three: Historical Record Collections
Topic:Comparison Chart of Functions and Responsibilities of Archives, Libraries, and Museums

Comparison Chart of Functions and Responsibilities of
Archives, Libraries, and Museums


Archival Collections

Library Collections

Museum Artifacts & Collections

Nature of collection

Unpublished, unique, groups of related items, significance related to other items

Published, available elsewhere, independent separate and individual items

Unique artifacts or objects that support broad collection themes

How materials are received

Considered and selected as a group

Selected as single items

Considered and selected as both single items and a group

How materials are arranged

Original order maintained if possible; archivist-determined arrangement otherwise

Pre-determined subject classification system already established

Original order sometimes maintained; established by curator

How materials are organized and described

As record groups (collection of items)

As individual items

As individual items and as groups of items

How information about materials is provided

Guides, finding aids, inventories, indexes, online systems

Standardized descriptive information is available through a card or online public access catalog

Inventories and catalog entries through a card or online catalog

How materials are accessed and secured

Closed stacks, restricted access; items do not leave the archives' premises; special procedures allow researchers access while ensuring safety of records

Open stacks, most items may leave the library's premises

Restricted access, items usually available through exhibits, items do not leave the museum's premises except by special arrangement (loans to other institutions)

What items within collections are known as

Archival records, documents, manuscripts, ephemera

Books, magazines, maps, audio and video tapes

Artifacts, tangible objects

What those who care for the collections are known as professionally