The collection process
Date of the policy statement
"To preserve and protect records of our milling heritage and to make them freely available to the public."
To do this we aim to
- seek and acquire historical and contemporary records of traditional mills and milling.
- store, care for and keep together collections placed in our care.
- encourage research into our milling heritage.
- make as much of our material as possible available for public inspection.
- provide facilities for research and education at the Archive and on the Internet.
- offer advice and support to collectors, promoting future deposits.
- build close links with existing archives holding mill material with a view to sharing information and possibly resources.
- actively encourage an interest in mills by developing and promoting education and information programmes based on local communities and on the need for lifelong learning.
Traditional mills include mills, similar structures and industrial processes that are or were powered by wind, water, muscle or steam. Milling includes millwrighting and the place of the mill in social and economic as well as technological and architectural history.
All periods but the main focus will be the 18th–21st centuries.
Genre or media of records held
Appropriate storage and access facilities will be provided to allow the Mills Archive to obtain, keep and permit inspection of:
- Photographs, slides and negatives,
- Documents (including field notes, drawings, plans etc),
- Published material (including books and reports),
- Computerised databases,
- Digital images and other relevant files,
- Audio and video tape recordings,
- Mill-related ephemera of relevance to social history,
- Small artefacts of milling relevance.
Wherever possible material will be scanned and appropriate computer facilities provided to permit detailed examination of records without disturbing originals. Protocols will be introduced to ensure that machine-readable information can continue to be accessed as technology advances.
Records in other formats or media requiring special equipment for their consultation will not be acquired unless the Mills Archive Trust has, or plans soon to obtain, the necessary equipment, or is able to arrange facilities for appropriate public access elsewhere under proper invigilation.
Cooperation and demarcation with other repositories whose collection policy overlaps
The Mills Archive Trust does not seek to compete for material with other mill archives. In acquiring records every effort shall be made to avoid conflict and duplication with the collecting policies of such repositories, although there may be some overlap with more general repositories. In all cases we will work with other archives and donors to ensure material is placed in its most appropriate home.
The collection process
The Mills Archive Trust will not attempt to acquire material outside the terms of this statement of collecting policy. We will fully document the process of acquisition and maintain an appropriate accessions record.
Methods of acquisition
Donations and purchases are preferred to deposits on loan, although where a collection is threatened appropriate arrangements may be made. No attempt shall be made to secure the acquisition or removal of any records held in another record repository, except with the consent of the owner of the records and in consultation with the archivist in charge and governing body of that repository.
Conditions associated with accessions
It is a condition of acceptance that documents shall be available for public access either immediately or at the expiry of a specified period.
Acquisition of records will depend on the appropriateness of the Mills Archive as a suitable place for their custody and consultation and will respect the principles of archival integrity.
No records will be acquired or disposed of in contravention of the terms of any current legislation and in particular the Public Records Acts, the Manorial and Tithe Documents Rules and the Parochial Registers and Records Measure.
Before accepting records, the Mills Archive Trust must be satisfied that the donor has proper authority or title to transfer them and in the event of acquisition by gift or loan the Governing Body and the donor or owner of the records shall fully acquaint each other in writing of any terms or conditions attaching to the transfer.
A computerised accessions register shall be kept, in which essential information on the nature and circumstances of each acquisition shall be recorded. This will include the date and terms of transfer, the name and address of the donor, brief details of the records and any reference number necessary to allow the records themselves and any related documentation to be traced.
Selection and deaccessioning policy
The Mills Archive Trust believes there should be a presumption against disposal by sale of documents in its ownership except when they are duplicates of published material. In accordance with the wishes of depositors, as expressed at the time of transfer, we shall evaluate and remove from the archive those documents deemed not to be worthy of permanent preservation.
In all other cases there is a presumption against the disposal, by any means, of records accepted into the record repository unless:
- It is found that they belong more properly with records in another repository, in which case they may be transferred there with the consent of the owner and the knowledge of both governing bodies.
- The repository becomes unable, either temporarily or permanently, to provide proper care for them, in which case they should be transferred, on such terms as may then be agreed in writing with the consent of the owner and of both governing bodies, to another appropriate repository with similar overall objectives.
- The owner requests their return.
The Mills Archive Trust will provide on-site:
- A supervised study area suitable for inspecting the records at convenient times during normal working hours by prior appointment.
- The appropriate, properly maintained technical facilities necessary for consulting the records. Users will be encouraged to access the archive remotely using the Internet.
The Mills Archive Trust will display publicly and on its website the regulations for public access to the records. The regulations will include details of regular opening hours, conditions for the issue of readers' tickets or Internet passwords and the provisions for the protection of the records from theft or damage during public inspection and for the prevention of unauthorised access. Members of the public entitled or authorised to inspect the records will be required to sign an undertaking to abide by the published regulations.
General restrictions on access, such as any statutory or customary time-limited closure of the records, will also be explained in the regulations. Variations to the general rule, in the case of certain categories of records or individual items, will be noted in the relevant finding aids.
Readers will be required to produce written evidence of identity, must not take coats and bags to their study places, must write with pencils only, and must not write on or trace directly from any records. Facilities (with due regard to copyright) will be available in the Mills Archive or by appropriate arrangement elsewhere for making digital, photographic or other copies of the records in question and for the certification of such copies.
All records that are open to inspection by the public will be clearly described, in publicly available finding aids, which will also be available over the Internet. Notice of every new acquisition and of any restrictions on its access or use will be made public at the earliest opportunities. The Mills Archive will systematically provide copies of its finding aids to relevant repositories and the National Register of Archives maintained by the National Archives.
Access to catalogued material
Our overall aim is to provide as much as possible on the Internet to reduce the need for researchers to visit the Archive. Nevertheless we are happy to receive and help researchers according to the policies described in this document. The public is allowed supervised access to all catalogued material by appointment. The appointment is necessary to enable us to fetch the material required from the Archive store and to provide custodians on the day. The material will be provided for inspection in our reading room/cataloguing office and will be supervised by two custodians. Custodians may be either trustees or one of a list of trusted volunteers agreed by the trustees.
Access to uncatalogued material
Uncatalogued material is kept in a separate store to catalogued material and requires a great deal of organisation and care before it can be brought to the cataloguing office when required for cataloguing. In common with other major archives, the Mills Archive does not permit access to uncatalogued material if this will threaten the security or preservation of the records. Only specifically trained and trusted administrators approved by the trustees may use the store of uncatalogued material to organise and care for the holdings and to prepare them for cataloguing. They will do searches of uncatalogued material on request for users, but a charge will be made. These searches are difficult and may be time-consuming and unproductive.
The trustees have agreed a list of trusted volunteers who may be allowed supervised access to uncatalogued material selected for them to catalogue. They may have supervised access to the catalogued section of the store when cataloguing requires.
Trustees may access catalogued material unsupervised but must make an appointment so that the relevant material can be provided for them.
Donors of collections may make an appointment to see their material whether it is catalogued or not. This will be brought to the reading room or in exceptional circumstances (eg where the material is bulky) the donor may be given supervised access to the store of uncatalogued material.
Date of the policy statement
This policy statement is based on that originally approved by the Trustees in January 2002 and will be reviewed as necessary and at least every three years by the Governing Body to take account of any changed circumstances.
Date of this issue of the policy statement: July 2009.
Date for next formal review: July 2012.