Course:2: Acquiring Your Collections
Lesson:Lesson 2: Writing A Collection Policy
Topic:Element Six


Element 6:
Removal of unwanted materials from your collections  

When Do You Need to Remove Materials?

You may find that your organization holds collections that fall outside its collection policy. When this occurs, you will need to decide whether or not you want to continue to use your program's limited resources to maintain those out-of-scope collections. If you choose not to keep these records in your collection, you will need to remove them from your holdings.

Your collection policy should provide guidelines for when it is appropriate to remove materials. Generally, removal should occur when either the materials fall outside the collecting scope or the organization cannot support the materials. In archival terms, this removal process is called deaccessioning.

Should you need to remove items from your holdings, first check to see if there were disposal instructions included in the acquisition documents. For example, a gift agreement might specifically state that if the organization no longer wants to retain the records, they should be returned to the donating family.

If no such disposal instructions are available, then your organization should follow its process for disposal and documentation of that disposal. Your collection policy should explain these practices.

Describe Your Process

For element six, you should describe in general terms the process for removing materials from your collections.   This section should include:

  • What kinds of materials can be removed from collections
  • Who has the authority to decide what materials to remove

Definition icon

Deaccessioning: The removal of materials from a collection's holdings.


Example icon

Click here to access an example of a deaccessioning policy and links to others. 


Materials removal
Be sure to describe your process for removing materials from your collection.