New guidance for protection of heritage and culture


3 March 2009

Collections Trust and BSI British Standards have published a new standard for the management of cultural collections in archives, galleries, libraries and museums.

PAS 197: 2009 Code of practice for cultural collections management provides recommendations on the provision, implementation and maintenance of a collections management framework and has been designed for use by organizations of any size and complexity.

Developed by a Steering Group of leading industry experts in consultation with 200 heritage practitioners, PAS 197 describes the framework of principles needed to manage cultural collections. It details the fundamentals of collections development, collections information, collections access and collections care and conservation.

As well as assisting practitioners and enabling top management to take a strategic view of collections management, PAS 197 will be of use to sponsoring and funding bodies, auditors and others who need to understand the diversity of activities involved in managing a collection.

Rt Hon Andy Burnham MP, Secretary of State for Culture, Media & Sport, said, “Archives, libraries and museums in the UK hold some of the world’s richest collections of cultural material. We hold these collections in trust on behalf of society, to manage them professionally and to maximize the opportunities for people of all ages and cultures to engage with them, actively and creatively. I commend the BSI code of practice for collections management to senior staff, funders and policymakers throughout the UK and internationally.”

Nick Poole, Chief Executive of Collections Trust, said, “The publication of PAS 197 represents a great leap forwards in professional standards for archives, libraries and museums. Modern audiences demand sophisticated, well-managed cultural institutions and Collections Management is the foundation-stone for delivering what they want.

Building on a decade of knowledge and experience, PAS 197 represents a unique coming-together of cultural sectors. At its heart is a revolutionary, holistic approach to the management of different kinds of material to meet the ever-changing needs of our audiences.”

Mike Low, Director of BSI British Standards, said, “PAS 197 brings together the fundamentals which will assist practitioners in managing access and ensuring business performance while caring for the collection. The standard incorporates elements of existing management systems for quality, the environment and health and safety which are widely used across business and non-profit organizations.”

Find out more and buy a copy of the standard at the BSI Shop

Organizations on the PAS 197 Steering Group:
Cymal: Museums Archives and Libraries Wales
Collections Trust
Institute of Conservation
The Library and Museum of Freemasonry
Museum Association
Museums Galleries Scotland
Museums, Libraries and Archives Council
Natural History Museum
Society of Archivists
The Courtauld Institute of Art Book Library
The National Archives
The Women’s Library, London Metropolitan University
University College London Centre for Sustainable Heritage
University College London Senate house Library
Victoria and Albert Museum

A Publicly Available Specification (PAS) is a sponsored fast-track standard driven by the needs of the client organisations and developed according to guidelines set out by BSI. Key stakeholders are brought together to collaboratively produce a BSI-endorsed PAS that has all the functionality of a British Standard for the purposes of creating management systems, product benchmarks and codes of practice. After two years the PAS is reviewed and a decision is made as to whether it should be taken forward to become a formal British Standard.

About the Collections Trust

The Collections Trust is an independent UK charity working to improve the quality and accessibility of cultural services by promoting professional Collections Management.For further information please visit

The Collections Trust is supported by the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA). For further information, please visit