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Art and Special Collections Management Framework

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Section 1 - Purpose

(1) This framework and its guiding policy:

  1. communicate the collection development principles of the Library, in support of the University Strategic Plan;
  2. provide transparency on the management of the Library's collections;
  3. inform decisions about the acquisition, rehousing, deselection, and withdrawal of material in all formats;
  4. inform duties and workflows related to the Library’s collections;
  5. demonstrate compliance with Government legislation; 
  6. facilitate relevant and collaborative collections management and resource sharing with other organisations; and
  7. facilitate activities, strategies and actions to ensure the continued accessibility, authenticity, and integrity of digital content, regardless of the challenges of medial failure and technological change.

(2) This framework must be read in conjunction with the Library and Art Collection Development Policy

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Section 2 - Scope

(3) This framework applies to all activities relating to acquisition, management, conservation and exhibition of cultural material and artworks managed by the Library, regardless of format, at the University campus and partner locations.

(4) Items that have been acquired by a college, school, or research centre without prior consultation and approval of an appropriate delegate are outside of the scope of this framework.

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Section 3 - Audience

(5) Staff, students, University affiliates and alumni, honorary academics, general public, and resource-sharing organisations.

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Section 4 - Definitions

(6) In the context of this document the following definitions apply:

Defined Term Meaning
Accession The process of acquiring and recording new item/s.
Archives The Archives holds records related to the history of the University and its regions such as: University and student publications, photographs, maps, plans and policies. This collection excludes University official records which are managed by Records Governance Services.
Art Collection Art Collection refers to original creative works including drawings, paintings, sculptures, photography, installations, other artefacts, digital or other media, or design items.
Artefact An item of material culture that has a functional, symbolic or spiritual purpose that has been made or used by humans.
Bit-level preservation Basic preservation of a digital file in its original state. One step in the digital preservation process.
Born digital Born digital refers to works that are created in a digital format.
Collection Collection is a collective term that refers to the General Collection, research outputs, Special Collections, Archives, rare books, and the Art Collection
Collection management Collection management refers to the strategies and processes of acquisition, retention and management, preservation, and provision of access to information sources to support the needs of a community.
Collection management system Collection management systems allow individuals or collecting institutions to organise, control and manage their collections’ objects by tracking all information related to, and about, those objects.
Conservation Conservation is the care of cultural material. Conservation activities may include preservation, restoration, examination, documentation, digitisation, research, advice, treatment, preventive conservation, training and education. All measures and actions should respect the significance and physical, historical, aesthetic and cultural integrity of the object.
Cultural Gifts Program A program that encourages Australians to donate items of cultural significance from private collections to public art galleries, museum, libraries, and archives.
Deaccession The process of officially removing an item from the collection to sell, return, or dispose the item.
Deposit A deposit is a type of acquisition in which the donor still owns the item, but the University will be the custodian, and cares for the item on the donor’s behalf.
Digital asset A digital file that has enduring value to the organisation and has sufficient information recorded to allow its re-use. It can be either born-digital or digitised.
Digital preservation Digital preservation means a series of managed activities, policies, strategies and actions to ensure the ongoing accessibility, authenticity and integrity of digital collections, regardless of the challenges of media failure and technological change.
Digital preservation storage Digital preservation storage means storage that meets preservation requirements, such as byte for byte storage, fixity checks and by maintaining onsite and offsite backup copies and periodic refreshment by copying files to new storage media.
Digitisation Digitisation is the process of converting information into a format by photographing, scanning or otherwise converting analogue materials for access and preservation reasons.
Fixity The digital file is demonstrably unchanged at the bit configuration level.
Incoming loans Any contracted agreement for Art or Special Collections on a temporary basis under which the transferor grants temporary right of possession to the University, or a loan for a finite period for the purpose of display or exhibition.
Material Material includes books, journals, multimedia, maps, art, artefacts, archaeological finds, educational resources, archives, manuscripts, and rare books. Materials may be in electronic, print, or other formats or media.
Outgoing loans Any contracted agreement for Art or Special Collections to be loaned to approved Partner Institutions, Museums or Galleries for the purpose of making collections accessible to broader audiences through the sharing of cultural material.
Preservation Preservation is the action taken to retard or prevent deterioration of or damage to cultural material by control of its environment. This is done through the formulation and implementation of policies and procedures for the following: appropriate environmental conditions; handling and maintenance procedures for storage, exhibition, packing, transport and use; integrated pest management; emergency preparedness and response; and reformatting/duplication. It includes appropriate collection storage for various media, based on accepted industry standards.
Provenance The history and ownership of materials from the time of discovery or creation to the present time from which authenticity and legal title is determined.
Rare books Rare books refers to any book which has an enhanced value because the demand for or research interest in the book exceeds the supply, usually because of its importance, scarcity, age, condition, physical and aesthetic properties, association, or subject matter.
Registration Registration is an act of professional and ethical identification, tracking and controlling the movement of collection items within and between organisations.
Repatriation Refers to the return of art or cultural property to the country of origin, or to former original owners (or their heirs). It can refer to artefacts, heritage items, human materials (including ancestral remains), paleontological and ethnological items.
Research outputs Research outputs refers to University research materials created by University authors. These are hosted and/or managed by the Library and within the Library's open access repository. These include: theses; data in a range of formats; audio-visual material, manuscripts, and individual articles and journals hosted on the Library's open source platform.
Restoration Restoration refers to the treatment of materials through minimal intervention to enhance its interpretation. Restoration may involve the reassembly of displaced components, removal of extraneous matter, or re-integration using new materials.
Special Collections Special Collections refers to resources in a variety of formats that are distinguished, and have intrinsic value to, the University and its regions. Special Collections include materials such as, but not limited to, Archives, rare books, manuscripts.
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Section 5 - Budget

(7) Funding for purchase, assessment and conservation measures is provided through various operational budgets or reliant on discrete funds.


(8) The Library's Art and Special Collections will be evaluated by University appointed valuers. Valuations will be evidenced by appropriate supporting documentation to support the University's insurance and risk requirements.

(9) Valuations records will be maintained by the Manager, Special Collections and the Art Curator, in accordance with the Records Governance Policy.

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Section 6 - Acquisition Procedures

(10) The Library will develop the Art and Special Collections according to the principles outlined in the Library and Art Collection Development Policy, and the selection criteria below.

Selection criteria

(11) The following criteria will be considered when evaluating materials to be added to the collection:

  1. Areas of strength: All acquisitions must align with the current collection focus and support the University Strategic Plan. The University limits collecting artworks, rare books, and manuscripts to those that fit within identified collecting areas and that are deemed to be of significance. The University's identified collecting areas are:
    1. materials significant to, or from our regions;
    2. works by those who have a relationship with the University;
    3. works from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples that reflect equality and equity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students and employees and that increase visibility and understanding of first nations’ culture as a shared national identity;
    4. materials that support diversity, inclusivity, and address the underrepresentation of women, ethnic groups and minorities, people with disabilities and socially disadvantaged populations; and
    5. materials that have compelling evidential content, are unique and distinctive, have inherent value as originals and provide a foundation for research, exhibitions and public outreach.
  2. Significance: Art and Special Collections acquisitions (including donations) must be assessed to determine their significance.
  3. Authenticity: In developing the Art and Special Collections, the Library will only acquire authentic works of art or special collection materials that have valid title and provenance, and that can be obtained ethically and in accordance with relevant law.
  4. Condition: The Library will only acquire works in good condition that do not require extensive conservation. Items that do not meet this requirement may be considered for acceptance where funding is assured from the donor/vendor. A conservation report must accompany all works that have undergone conservation treatment. Items that do not meet this requirement includes items that:
    1. are inherently vulnerable, in poor condition and/or require excessive remediation or restoration;
    2. have unjustifiable storage and movement needs in any format, including but not limited to long-term storage issues;
    3. pose excessive financial costs and/or health and safety issues; or
    4. pose possible risks to other material in the collections.

Methods of acquisition

(12) Methods of acquisition will include purchase, commission, donations (including the Cultural Gifts Program and bequests) and loans.


(13) The purchase of works for the Art and Special Collections is subject to relevant delegations of authority.

(14) Purchased works must be accompanied by:

  1. a current valuation where the item is considered to have a significant value (in excess of $10,000); and
  2. confirmation of authenticity and provenance.

(15) Items that have been acquired by a college, school, or research centre without prior consultation and approval of an appropriate delegate, may be accepted by the Library if, upon assessment by the Art Curator and/or Manager, Special Collections, items comply with the Art and Special Collections selection criteria and relevant documentation is provided.

(16) Items that do not comply with clause 15 will not receive an asset number from the Library. The management and costs of curatorial care, conservation care, insurance, valuation, security, framing, maintenance, freight, relocation and installation of such works will remain the responsibility of the individual unit/s concerned.


(17) Artworks may be commissioned by a University business unit for divisional purposes or for enduring historic reasons, such as Chancellor and Vice-Chancellor portraits, subject to a commissioning agreement reviewed by the Art Curator and the Legal and Compliance unit. The business unit commissioning the works will be responsible for all associated funding.


(18) Acceptance of donations will comply with the:

  1. Donation Acceptance and Management Policy; and
  2. Library and Art Collection Development Policy.

(19) Acceptance of donations must be approved by an authorised delegate, and the approval noted in the accession documentation.

(20) Donations will require two valuations arranged by the Manager, Special Collections, or the Art Curator. Costs for valuations may be negotiated with the donor or funded by the University.

(21) Donations under the Cultural Gifts Program must comply with all relevant government guidelines. The acceptance of any Cultural Gifts Program donation must be signed by an authorised delegate, prior to submission. Cultural Gifts Program donations will not be returned to the donor.

(22) Donated items will not be accepted with conditions attached unless they bear historic or artistic significance (e.g. to be housed as a discrete collection). Items accepted with conditions will be evaluated for suitability.

(23) Acknowledgements for acquisitions under the Cultural Gifts Program, or significant donations will only be publicly accredited with approval from the donor.

Incoming loans

(24) Incoming loans must be approved by the Manager, Special Collections, or the Art Curator.

(25) Significant loans of artwork or object/s may be borrowed for a certain period from reputable institutions/individuals. An official loan agreement will be signed for all approved incoming loans before any works are transferred. Lenders will be required to provide evidence of provenance and a full condition report of the work(s) at time of agreement. The University will provide a copy of the limited insurance provisions of the incoming loan to the lender if requested by the lender.

(26) All incoming loans will be:

  1. registered in the appropriate database with full details, including Loan Accession number, the loan agreement and value; and,
  2. reported to the University's Manager, Risk Services for insurance requirements.

(27) Incoming loans to the Art and Special Collections will be limited to a maximum period of 4 years, with yearly reviews conducted by the Library.

(28) Installation and placement of incoming loans will be agreed between the University and the lender and detailed in the official loan agreement. Relevant environmental conditions, security, handling and care and any other associated requirements, will be taken into reasonable consideration by the University in the agreement.

(29) Freight costs will be negotiated between the borrower and the lender. Any additional associated costs, such as crating and packing, where reasonably applicable under the official loan agreement, will be negotiated between the borrower and the lender. The curatorial care, limited insurance, security, conservation care, relocation and installation of such works will be the responsibility of the University.

(30) The University reserves the right to refuse an application or agreement for an incoming loan and to terminate an existing loan agreement subject to approval by an authorised delegate.

Outgoing loans

(31) Although materials are not typically available for loan, items from the Art and Special Collections may be loaned for exhibitions external to the University on approval of the Manager, Special Collections, or the Art Curator. Loaning works of high value will be at the discretion of the University Librarian.

(32) All requests for loans from the collection must be in writing, addressed to the Manager, Special Collections, or the Art Curator. An official loan agreement will be forwarded to applicants for signature. Evidence of risk assessment, transport, preservation procedures and insurance cover must be provided with the loan agreement before any work is released.

(33) Items from the Art and Special Collections will only be lent to professionally operated galleries, exhibition spaces or institutions that can demonstrate suitable environments and appropriate collection management practices.

(34) Freight costs will be negotiated between the borrower and the lender. All additional costs such as crating, packing and reinstallation on return, where applicable, will be decided by negotiation between the borrower and the lender.

(35) Only appropriate transporters are to be used for carrying any work from the Art and Special Collections. The University, with recommendations from the Manager, Special Collections, or the Art Curator, reserves the right to nominate the carrier.

(36) Permission to reproduce any materials in the Art Collection and Special Collections for online and print publishing, and commercial products must be requested from the Library and granted by the copyright holder (where applicable).

(37) All outgoing loans must be attributed to the University in all publicity material, publications, and display labels. The University's name is to appear in full and any use of the University logo is to be approved.

(38) All works must be returned in the condition in which they were despatched. Works on loan must not undergo any treatment, reframing, hanging alterations or other changes without approval in writing from the Manager, Special Collections, or the Art Curator.


(39) The University only accepts deposits in exceptional circumstances. Deposited items can be borrowed back from the University. The depositor may also choose to permanently withdraw the deposited items at a future date.

(40) In the case of permanent withdrawal, the depositor may be liable to reimburse the University for expenses incurred for storage, cataloguing and conservation during their term of deposit.

(41) An exception to this requirement will be Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural materials and archives where the Library may enter into an agreement to manage and have custodianship of a collection, without full title and possession.

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Section 7 - Collection Access

(42) Access to the Art and Special Collections is governed by the Library, Galleries and Museum Use Policy.

(43) Access to the Archives is subject to legal permissions and regulations advised for each individual archival item.

(44) Clients requesting access to the Regional Archives must complete the Regional Archives Access Conditions form.

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Section 8 - Collection Curation

(45) The Manager, Special Collections and Art Curator will increase the collection's profile, and develop and maintain relationships with the University community, artists, art dealers, arts organisations, galleries, museums and libraries, and past and prospective donors through the curation, interpretation and exhibition of the collections in a range of formats.

(46) The Art Curator advises on plans for commissioning public art for environmental placement for the University and its partner institutions.

(47) Senior staff have the right to request works of art from the Art Collection provided certain criteria are met concerning the conditions under which the work is displayed. The Art Curator will assist with the selection, display, and installation once the designated area is assessed.

(48) Decision making regarding distribution of art works to the various hospitals, centres and off-campus locations associated with the University will be considered where possible, after an appraisal of practical rationales of security, insurance, conservation, and regular monitoring.

(49) No movement of artworks is to take place without the prior knowledge, approval, and express endorsement by the Art Curator. The Art Curator will supervise, assist, advise, and support all movement of collection works.

(50) Plans for construction or renovation activities in spaces where collection works are installed, on display, or stored must include consultation with the Art Curator. It is considered the due care and responsibility of Infrastructure and Facilities Services, University staff, the University community, and the Art Curator to manage these planned activities with respect for the condition and state of the Art Collection.

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Section 9 - Collection Management

(51) The Library will manage the Art and Special Collections according to clear ethical, quality assurance, security, conservation, sustainability and disposal regimes in a manner that balances the long-term preservation and integrity of individual artworks, materials and the collection with accessibility for present and future generations.


(52) The Library will advocate for the care of art and cultural heritage through the provision of training and education for University staff, students, industry professionals and the public.


(53) The Library will proactively mitigate and manage the risks of deterioration to materials in its collection and care. To achieve this, the Library employs a number of core strategies regarding the condition assessment, storage, handling, packing and transportation, display and security of items.

(54) The Library will manage its facilities in accordance with sound and sustainable environmental controls, pest management and the development and implementation of disaster and emergency planning and response strategies.


(55) Restoration conservation treatment of artworks and cultural materials are undertaken on a case–by-case basis based on significance, risk, research and exhibition priorities.


(56) Physical collection storage areas will be maintained in accordance with sound and considered environmental control standards, utilising appropriate storage materials, furniture, systems and supports, storage layout, cleaning and maintenance schedules, and traffic management practices in order to minimise risks to the collections in the Library's care.

(57) Digital collection storage will be maintained for material that is born digital or has been digitised for preservation and access needs. Digital collection storage must meet preservation requirements, which includes establishing a trusted digital repository that meets recommended national and international best practice guidelines.

Condition and storage appraisal

(58) The Manager, Special Collections, Conservator and/or Art Curator is responsible for item condition and physical and digital preservation storage appraisal prior to any acquisition.

(59) Evaluation of the factors that may affect the preservation and care of the item will include current storage capacities and the environmental provisions required for the item in accordance with University priorities.

(60) The item value must justify the costs involved in long term maintenance of the item.


(61) The Library will apply appropriate registration and collection management standards in order to ensure materials in its care can be identified, located and tracked. Only Library staff can install and move collection materials.

(62) The Library uses an industry-standard collection management system to catalogue materials and maintain documentation. Information is entered and maintained in accordance with established procedures and ensures respect for and compliance with security, risk management, and confidentiality and privacy considerations while also providing digital access to its collections.

(63) The accurate location control and inventory of artwork and cultural material is maintained through the implementation and monitoring of sound physical and digital movements, procedures and protocols.

(64) Acquisitions that meet the recognition threshold of the Tangible and Intangible Capital Asset Management Policy will be recorded and managed in accordance with this policy.

(65) Culturally sensitive material will be identified. Consultation with authoritative and responsible authorities, or guidelines, will inform all future preservation procedures and conditions of display and access.

(66) Copyright attribution of the author/artist/creator will be included at registration and written approval filed with the accession in the database.

Record keeping and documentation

(67) Library staff will maintain records related to the management of materials in the Library's collection and care, including relevant documentation and supporting materials, decision-making, evidence of risk management strategies employed and all relevant incident and condition reporting.

(68) The Library compiles documentation of artworks and cultural materials through photography, video and audio. The Library also produces interpretive video, audio and software-based content that supports exhibition, research and public outreach of its collections.


(69) The University will unconditionally support repatriation of holdings from the Art and Special Collections of any Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander or First Nations materials.


(70) Deaccession is undertaken to conserve the quality or integrity of the Art and Special Collections and to optimise the use of space.

(71) The Manager, Special Collections and the Art Curator will determine what is kept, what is discarded and where items will be located.

(72) The University reserves the right to relegate, withdraw and/or dispose of collection items where items fail to meet selection criteria and the requirement for relevance and significance. The University will observe any legal conditions pertaining to its right of disposal.

(73) The Library will comply with the Tangible and Intangible Capital Asset Management Policy.

(74) Works to be disposed may be:

  1. returned to the donor;
  2. transferred to another institution;
  3. sold by public auction when appropriate;
  4. destroyed or recycled, under supervision; or,
  5. used for learning and teaching purposes.

(75) Proceeds from any sales will be directed to the University to support the purchase of additional relevant works.

(76) A thorough documentation of previous existence of the work in the collection and arguments leading to and procedures taken prior to the items disposal or relegation need to be prepared and archived as the University record.

(77) Deaccessioning items from the Art and Special Collections will comply with the conditions of the donation where applicable.

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Section 10 - Risk Management and Collection Preservation

(78) The Library will manage risk concerning its Art and Special Collections and the related space in accordance with the Risk Management Framework.

(79) The Library will conduct systematic and regular assessments of the risks concerning the following:

  1. safety and preservation of the collections (physical and digital formats); and,
  2. health and safety of staff and clients.

(80) The Library will maintain a Business Continuity Plan for the preservation of high value and priority items in the event of an incident that may impact on the collection.

(81) In the event of major damage due to natural disasters, the Art and Special Collections will be assessed. Remediation will be proposed by the Conservator and the Art Curator by report to Infrastructure and Facilities Services and the University Librarian.

(82) The Library recognises that digital material is inherently vulnerable and at risk and requires careful management and planning to ensure its preservation.

(83) The Library will strategically undertake digitisation of its Art and Special Collections for the purposes of access and preservation, within available resources and subject to copyright legislation. The Library acknowledges that the creation of a digital copy, or digital surrogate, is then classed as digital material and is subject to the same broad challenges involved in preserving access to it, as ‘born digital’ materials and requires ongoing investment in digital preservation storage.

(84) Digitisation priorities are identified by the Manager, Special Collections and the Art Curator through an assessment of significance and risk. Priority will be given to highly significant materials and materials that are inherently vulnerable and require digitisation as a means of long-term preservation.

(85) The Library will uphold the following digital preservation principles, in regards to all digital collections items and assets (digitised or born-digital materials) created, acquired or donated to the Library that have long-term value:

  1. Fixity: the Library will invest in bit-level preservation of its most valuable digital collections and assets and other system needs for digital asset management and preservation, and advocate to include these in ongoing ICT systems planning. 
  2. Integrity: the Library will periodically monitor and evaluate digital storage systems and platforms to ensure the integrity and accessibility of digital assets
  3. Collaboration: the Library will maintain ongoing communication and collaboration with the broader University to advocate for, maintain and develop its ongoing storage requirements to meet the standards of this Policy. 
  4. Risk and assurances: The Library will manage risk in accordance with the Risk Management Framework and undertake digital preservation activities to mitigate losses of valuable digital assets
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Section 11 - Roles and Responsibilities

(86) Ultimate responsibility for the Art Collection and the Special Collections rests with the University Librarian.

(87) Accountability for acceptance of donations for the benefit of the Library and its users rests with the University Librarian.

(88) Accountability for the acceptance of donations by way of artworks rests with the Art Curator.

(89) Complaints concerning material in the collection should be addressed in writing to the University Librarian for resolution. All complaints will be handled in accordance with the Complaint Management Policy.

(90) Responsibility for deselection planning and monitoring lies with the Manager, Special Collections, and the Art Curator. 

(91) Accountability for the collection valuation process lies with the University Librarian.