Deaccessioning Policies

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    • #133255
      Carolyn Frisa

      I have been working with a small public library over the past year to develop a collections management plan for their historic collection. Until about 5 years ago, the library accepted pretty much anything that was donated for their “library museum” which has basically been non-operational for the last 20 years. This ultimately resulted in a large number of items (textiles, objects, books, paintings, etc.) that do not fit the criteria for the new accessioning policy and mission statement for the collection. The library is also undergoing a major renovation project which will result in a greatly improved collections storage for a smaller collection of items.

      At this point, all known loans have been returned to their original owners and objects that fit the accessioning criteria/mission statement have been photographed and catalogued and are in temporary storage for the duration of the renovation project. The next step is to figure out how best to go about deaccessioning the items that are not eligible for accessioning.

      How have other institutions gone about this? My initial feeling is that the library may need to use several methods to complete this process such as offering items to another appropriate institution, selling items via auction or a book dealer with any money from sales going directly into a collections care fund, and donating items to local charitable organizations for resale.

      Any thoughts or recommendations would be much appreciated.


      Carolyn Frisa

    • #133257

      I would suggest Stephen E. Weil’s book “A Deaccession Reader” published by the American Association of Museums.

    • #133256

      Hi Carolyn,
      This was also a recent topic on AASLH’s Small Museums Community. See There are links to further resources and a recorded webinar there. Best, Kristen

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