ACRL/RBMS Guidelines for Loans of Special Collections Materials for Exhibitions and Resource Sharing

Approved by the ACRL Board of Directors, October 2023

This document is a revision of the 2012 ACRL/RBMS Guidelines For Interlibrary And Exhibition Loan Of Special Collections Materials.

I. Introduction

II. Institutional Mission

III. Operational Impact/Capacity

IV. Asset and Risk Management

V. Costs and Fees

VI. Insurance

VII. Preservation and Conservation

VIII. Security

IX. Paperwork

X. Rights, Credits, Citations

XI. Transportation

XII. Appendices

I. Introduction

To enhance access, support research, and promote awareness of their collections, special collections repositories may arrange to lend materials from their holdings to other institutions for research use or exhibition. For the purposes of this document, we use the term “Special Collections” and “Special Collections repository” to encompass any cultural heritage institution or department of a larger institution that houses rare or unique materials. While this primarily includes libraries, archives, and historical societies, this information may also be of interest to other institutions such as museums and private clubs, or even individuals not affiliated with an institution who are interested in best practices for the transport of rare and unique materials. These guidelines address the transfer of original materials for exhibition or research purposes when alternative means of accessing the documents, such as digital facsimiles, photocopies or microfilm are not adequate to their needs or cannot be provided. For resource sharing, this also includes instances when the researcher is unable to travel to the repository where the material is held. This document seeks to provide point-by-point guidance through the loan process, for borrowing and lending institutions.

This document refers specifically to the physical transfer, for a limited period, of original collection materials for the purposes of research consultation or exhibition.

Many institutions readily provide requesting parties with digital scans, photographs, or other facsimiles of collection materials for research or exhibition. Such practices, while highly recommended as alternatives to loans of originals, are outside the scope of these guidelines.

For ease of reference, the guidelines are divided into the key considerations a borrowing or lending institution will face in advance of requesting, approving, and facilitating a loan from its collections. Each section will address general best practices, as well as recommendations specific to the practices of exhibition loan and resource sharing. Guidelines specific to resource sharing should be understood and applied in concert with the principles and general guidelines stated above for exhibition loans and following the ALA Interlibrary Loan Code for the United States.

These guidelines are suggestions of best practices, and are not intended to be prescriptive. Institutions should take staffing, budget and other resource limitations into consideration when making decisions about borrowing or lending collection materials. It may be the case that an institution can use these guidelines as a tool when seeking to obtain more resources, or to determine whether or not the loaning of a physical item is the best option.

Most of the information in each section below pertains to any kind of loan.

Specific information about exhibition loans or resource sharing is included in certain sections as needed.

II. Institutional Mission

Loans require a significant investment of time and resources, and as such each loan should be evaluated to determine if it is in alignment with the lending institution’s mission, ethics and strategic goals. Lending institutions should consider a loan’s contribution to the advancement of diversity, equity and inclusion in our field.

Both borrowing and lending institutions should refer to the ACRL Code of Ethics for Special Collections Librarians to ensure that their mission and vision align. Both institutions should feel comfortable with the affiliation that accompanies the loan of collections. Borrowed and loaned materials destined for exhibition should adhere to the Code of Ethics guidelines in that they are made accessible, were obtained ethically, and do not create a conflict of interest for either the borrowing or the lending institution during the loan period.

III. Operational Impact/Capacity

Lenders should be considerate of the administrative and operational costs of lending collections. While borrowing institutions are expected to support the direct financial impact of exhibition loans, lending institutions must also invest significant operational capacity in order to receive, review, and process loan requests. These costs are both direct labor costs (staff responsible for loan processes are paid for their work) and costs for staff capacity (staff responsible for loan processes cannot also be doing other work when they are working on loans).

Borrowing institutions should be prepared to justify the need for the loan of originals rather than facsimiles. Loans may be denied if the lending institution determines that a reproduction of the original would be sufficient for the borrower’s needs.

Exhibition Loans:

A detailed workflow should be developed by the lending institution which outlines the steps involved in a typical loan request and names the staff involved with each stage. Some common steps in a Lender’s process may include the following procedures and elements:

  • Receiving and responding to an initial inquiry about a potential exhibition loan
  • Assessing the requested object’s suitability for exhibition (including condition, impact on lack of access, digitization needs, etc.)
  • Assessing the Borrower’s suitability to steward the loaned object
  • Formally evaluating and approving the Loan Agreement and its legal terms
  • Documenting the object prior to loan (condition reporting, digitization, etc.)
  • Preparing the object for display (framing, matting, book supports, etc.)
  • Preparing the object and the courier for travel
  • Safely packing, shipping, and installing the object at Borrowing institution
  • Processing vendor paperwork and payments of loan fees

An established workflow and task assignments will make the organizational impact of an exhibition loan more transparent and predictable.

A thorough assessment of capacity for loans may lead a lending institution to set a limit to the amount of loans that can be accommodated in a given period. This loan capacity may be documented for potential borrowers as part of a public-facing loan policy, and may entail a limit on objects per loan request, a limit on number of concurrent loans in process, a limit on loans or lent objects per fiscal year, or some other capacity requirement.

An institution’s standard timeline for facilitating a loan may vary concurrently with its operational capacity for loans. For example, institutions may require a loan request be submitted at least 12 months in advance of the loan period, to allow for sufficient time to evaluate and prepare. Any such requirements should be made public to potential borrowers to avoid institutions making or receiving impossible requests. A shorter timeline may be possible, but will require a greater outlay of time and resources.

Lending institutions may elect to set distinct processing requirements for cases which would entail a lighter operational impact, such as local and/or familiar borrowers.

Resource Sharing:

Borrowing and lending of special collections for research use falls within the larger context of interinstitutional resource-sharing, document delivery, and interlibrary loan operations. In most circumstances, therefore, the process will involve staff with both interlibrary loan and special collections responsibilities, who should jointly develop documented institutional policies and procedures in support of such lending and borrowing practices, and who should conduct their borrowing and lending procedures with effective communication and collaboration.

An important consideration is whether the loan paperwork will be executed and tracked solely by interlibrary loan staff, jointly with special collections staff, or only by special collections staff.

When possible, consult with the researcher to review the need to work with the original source material requested and to present alternatives, such as digital surrogates, other more readily accessible copies or editions, or other options. If interlibrary loan staff is the first means of contact, it is recommended that the lending institution offer a conditional response to the borrowing institution.

Lending institutions may limit the volume of loaned materials and the duration of the loan period. Loan periods should be set, in concert with the borrowing institution, to provide researchers with sufficient time, excluding transit time, to consult borrowed materials. The researcher who requested the materials should be given access to them in a contained, secure, supervised reading room equipped for the use of special collections materials. The researcher must agree to and abide by the conditions of use prescribed by the reading room’s policies and procedures and must also abide by any additional requirements specified by the lending institution. Access to the loaned materials must not be provided to anyone other than the designated researcher without the prior written permission of the lending institution.

IV. Asset and Risk Management

It is important to consider and manage the risks associated with loaning original rare and unique materials. It is particularly important to know what level of risk the borrowing institution is willing to take on.

Lenders should ensure that they have the authority and ownership to lend requested materials, in accordance with deeds of gift, terms of acquisition and/or donation agreements. Lenders should determine and put into place conditions and policies for loaning materials to minimize risks. Most of these considerations are outlined in this document.

The unique loan documents included with individual loans should be developed in collaboration with an institution’s legal department to ensure accuracy. Once templates have been created and approved, the documentation for each individual loan should be approved and authorized by appropriate institutional representatives. This could be the director or another administrator, and is often legally not the person coordinating the loan

The borrowing institution should take responsibility for any damage or loss of any borrowed item while in transit from/to the lending institution, in the borrowing institution's possession, or while being used by the requesting institution's researcher. The borrowing institution must meet all costs of replacement, repair, or appropriate compensation as determined and approved by the lending institution.

V. Costs and Fees

Both borrowing and lending institutions should take into account the potential costs and fees incurred by loaning physical materials. For both exhibition loans and resource sharing, these can be quite high and can occur at different stages throughout the life of the loan.

Exhibition Loans:

Borrowers should be prepared to assume responsibility for all potential costs associated with the loan. Any fees associated with the loan should be agreed upon by both the lender and borrower within the loan agreement. These costs may include, but are not limited to:

  • Facility report: a detailed document explaining the current state of the facility where the loan will be temporarily housed and displayed. Lenders will likely require a facility report from the borrower.
  • Loan fees: a basic rate for the use of the material. Institutions should take into consideration the ethical, legal or other implications and operational impacts of charging fees for loans. Similarly, borrowers should take into consideration the impact of this process on the lending institution.
  • Conservation fees: may include fees for the stabilization of materials for loan, construction of protective enclosures or mounts, appraisal, or other fees associated with preparing the items for travel and exhibition. Some institutions may also need to outsource their conservation needs if they do not have staff on site.
  • Shipping: may include packing materials, use of standard shipping, or fine art shippers.
  • Couriers: may include cost of transportation, hotel, per diem, or other assorted fees.

    - Additional costs may be significant if international travel is necessary, including customs fees.
  • Insurance: general coverage of the material is a required part of the loan process. If the insurance requested by the lender exceeds the borrower’s limits of coverage, additional riders may be required. More information can be found in section VI below.

If the costs associated with the loan are too onerous for the borrower, the use of surrogates or reproductions may be deemed sufficient in lieu of a loan.

Resource Sharing:

When possible, lenders should share rare and unique materials at a cost equal or comparable to the standard interlibrary loan fee charged for the loan of materials from the institution’s circulating collections. If the costs of shipping, insurance, tracking, conservation treatment, or loan requirements exceed the normal interlibrary loan fee, the lending institution may require additional payment. If the amount to be charged exceeds the maximum cost specified by the borrowing institution, the lending institution should notify the borrowing institution of any additional costs and secure an agreement to pay applicable fees before fulfilling the interlibrary loan request and shipping the requested materials.

VI. Insurance

All materials should be insured by either the borrower or the lender prior to leaving the institution regardless of if it is for an exhibition or resource sharing.

Exhibition Loans:

For exhibition loans, insurance should be provided by the borrower, unless the lender prefers to cover loaned objects under their own policy. Insurance coverage must be approved by the lender. The borrower should be prepared to provide a Certificate of Insurance (COI) at the lender’s request. A COI is a statement of coverage issued by the insurance company. Coverage should span from pick-up/shipping, through delivery to borrower, and final return to the lender.

A clear value must be assessed for each loaned object. The cost of formal appraisal, if required, should be borne by the borrower. For appraisals, the amount of coverage will vary depending on the object, focusing on “Replacement” and “Irreplaceable” value.

Lending institutions must identify the designated official with the authority to draft and sign insurance documentation. This designation may vary between institutions and carries significant liability implications.

Resource Sharing:

Loans should be conducted under the auspices of interlibrary loan insurance standards, though additional insurance coverage may be required for special collections materials depending on the requested object’s valuation.

VII. Preservation and Conservation

All requested items should be inspected by a professional, either on staff at the lending institution or hired as a consultant, ideally with experience in preservation and conservation. This person will prepare a condition report and make recommendations for necessary or potential treatments (including labor requirements), preparations and packing, production of mounts or protective enclosures, or required display conditions, including maximum light levels and temperature and relative humidity ranges. Condition assessments should contain photographic documentation of each object, and may be provided in advance and/or travel with the loaned materials. Precarious conditions or complexity of required treatments may be grounds for refusal of a loan request. Upon their return, all loaned objects should be assessed by the lender and checked against the initial condition assessment.

The borrower should compile its own condition assessments of the items, upon receipt and then again before returning the items. The borrower must follow the display and environmental requirements provided by the lender. Borrowers should be prepared to provide regular reports of environmental conditions, as stipulated in the loan agreement. Borrowers are required to notify the lender immediately of any damage to the object or lapse in environmental controls.

Borrowers should also advise lenders of any expected or potential threats to the stability of the loaned object(s), including natural disasters. No changes or repairs should be done by the borrower without written permission of the lender.

Resource Sharing:

Borrowers should not affix any labels or other markings directly upon the loaned materials. Identifying information should instead be applied to protective containers or sleeves or included on removable slips; materials used for such enclosures and slips should meet relevant conservation standards.

VIII. Security

The safety and security of collections should be a primary consideration during any loan process. All institutions share interrelated responsibilities regarding the security of exhibited and loaned special collections materials and the management of their use, whether for research or for exhibition. Lending institutions have an ethical responsibility to safeguard collections for future use, including any materials they may lend to other institutions. Likewise, borrowing institutions must ensure that borrowed materials are appropriately safeguarded.

Lenders should review borrowers’ security capacity and agree to it. Concerns and needs may vary by institution and by item. Specific areas to consider are: security around transportation, storage locations at the borrowing institution, and the security framework of the gallery space or reading room. The overall chain of custody of the items should be agreed upon and documented. Borrowers should report to lenders any security concerns that may arise after materials are in their custody. Institutions should review current security best practices and guidelines.

IX. Paperwork

Exhibition loans may require specific paperwork throughout the span of the loan.

The kinds of paperwork that may be needed are outlined below. Samples of some of these documents are included in the Appendix of these guidelines. All paperwork with legal implications should be developed in collaboration with the institution’s legal department to ensure accuracy.

Much of this paperwork may not be required for resource sharing, as long as the loan is done in accordance with the institution’s internal process for interlibrary loan.

However, any of the documents can be used in resource sharing if needed.

Exhibition Loans:

The documents to be completed through the loan process may include, but are not limited to:

  1. Loan Request
  2. Facility Report
  3. Loan Agreement
  4. Condition Reports
  5. Insurance documentation
  6. Customs paperwork
  7. Transportation Receipts

Lenders generally require loan requests to be submitted in advance of the date the materials are required. Six to 12 months is most often the length of advance notice required, but the lending institution may request a longer timeframe in the case of larger institutions and for loans involving numerous items and international loans. Sufficient time should be allowed for the lending institution to evaluate the loan request, negotiate conditions, obtain approvals, and carry out any required preparation, such as conservation treatments and appraisals. Additional time may be required if formal approval of a board or committee is required or if the materials requested require conservation treatment or special preparation.

Each loan may start with a formal request by the borrowing institution. While a facility report may not be included in the initial request, it should be ready to be sent to the lending institution at their request so they can make an informed decision about approving the loan.

The loan agreement should, at a minimum, include the following:

  • Details about the borrowing and lending institutions, including contact information
  • A list of the items to be loaned which may include:

    - Identifying information (author, title, date)

    - Institutional call number

    - Dimensions of the item

    - Monetary value of the item

    - Copyright and/or Citation information

    - How the item will be displayed
  • The agreed upon length of the loan
  • The conditions of the loan, which may include

    - How items should be handled and installed

    - Security considerations

    - What to do in the event of damage

    - Insurance information

    - Transportation details

    - Reproduction considerations

    - Other legal considerations
  • Space for the legally-binding document to be signed by the appropriate representative at both the borrowing and lending institutions

Condition Reports should be completed for each item going out on loan.

Condition reports are often completed by the conservation department of an institution when available. These reports document, in detail, the condition of the item at the start and end of a loan. This is also where information about how the item will be displayed may be included if it was not included in the item list. Ideally, the borrower would also create their own condition report upon receipt of the item and just before sending the item back to the lending institution.

Other paperwork that may be included as part of the loan process is Insurance coverage, customs documents and receipts from transportation. The loan agreement should be amended or a new loan agreement should be completed if a loan extension is requested. Institutions should retain loan documentation for future reference, in accordance with their record keeping practices.

X. Rights, Credits, Citations

It is the responsibility of the borrowing institution to ensure that all applicable laws related to copyright are followed for exhibition loans and conveyed to researchers in the case of resource sharing. In addition, borrowers should appropriately acknowledge lending institutions in all credits and citations.

Borrowers should familiarize themselves with Fair Use in the United States. More information can be found in the Association of Research Libraries’ Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Academic and Research Libraries. It is the borrower’s responsibility to determine the copyright status of the materials to be loaned and to contact the appropriate individual(s) in order to gain permission to use the items in the event Fair Use does not apply. Lenders should share copyright information when known.

Exhibition Loans:

In general, physical exhibitions are considered Fair Use. However, it is the borrowing institution’s responsibility to confirm this and take on any copyright risks that may come with displaying materials without permission from the copyright holder. The lending institution should be recognized by acknowledgment and citations in exhibition catalogs, exhibition narrative materials and tags, and other publicity materials as appropriate. The lending institution should provide a preferred credit statement for borrowed materials and/or exhibitions. Borrowing institutions should consider sending lending institutions copies of catalogs or direct them to any publications, including websites, where the loaned materials might appear. Publishing materials outside of the physical exhibition, such as in catalogs or marketing materials, is generally considered to be outside the bounds of Fair Use. It is the responsibility of the borrowing institution to determine who holds the copyright and acquire the appropriate permissions before proceeding with publication in any form beyond the exhibition.

Resource Sharing:

Any special conditions governing the use of loaned materials should be clearly stated in the paperwork accompanying the loan, including any restrictions or limitations on research use, citation, reproduction, publication, or other forms of dissemination.

Borrowers should follow the lending institution’s instructions regarding the reproduction of the loaned materials. If reproduction is permitted, it should be performed by or under the supervision of special collections staff at the borrowing institution in compliance with United States or other applicable copyright law and any other specifications stated in the lending institution’s loan policy or loan agreement. The borrowing institution may decline to make reproductions and may instead refer the researcher to the lending institution to negotiate arrangements for reproduction following the return of the loaned materials. The borrowing institution may permit the researcher to photograph loaned materials for research purposes using a personal digital camera in accordance with the lending institutions policies. Borrowing institutions should refer the researcher to the lending institution to inquire about imaging and publication permission for copyrighted materials.

XI. Transportation

It is important to carefully consider the impact that travel can have on special collections materials whether for exhibition loan or resource sharing. There are many things to take into consideration such as packing material, insurance, and handling. It is also important to take into consideration any unique concerns arising from international travel such as customs. In addition, the transport of physical items can have a negative impact on the environment, and this should also be taken into consideration when making decisions about loan impact. Borrowers and Lenders should agree on methods of packing, shipping, insurance, payment, pick-up and delivery and preferred transportation carriers prior to delivery.

These details should be included in the loan agreement as needed.

Exhibition Loans:

Transport may occur via commercial shipping agencies, art handlers, or couriers.

Factors to consider when selecting means of transport may include the object(s)’s condition, insurance value, budget considerations, and standard institutional protocols. Items should be packed safely and securely to withstand unforeseen circumstances during shipping. Any damages caused to the loaned items during shipping/travel are the responsibility of the borrower. Out-of-state or international travel may require additional paperwork or insurance, extended quarantines, and the use of a customs broker. The lender and borrower will follow the directives of their respective institutions, as well as applicable laws, rules and regulations at the organizational, local, national and international level. Additional documentation and preparation will be necessary in the case of international loans, to account for materials passing through Customs protocols.

Institutions may require that loaned objects travel via courier, who could be a designated member of the lending institution’s staff who is trained as a courier, or a professional hired for the purpose. In this case borrowers would generally bear the significant cost of travel and accommodation for the courier, and as such lenders should notify borrowers of this requirement as early in the process as possible.

Resource Sharing:

Borrowing and lending institutions should outline transportation plans in loan paperwork including addressee information, verification of physical and mailing addresses, and mail classes. Loans should be conducted under the auspices of interlibrary loan shipping procedures, though additional tracking, certification of delivery, and shipment speed may be required for special collections materials depending on the requested object’s valuation. Upon shipment, provide tracking numbers to the borrowing institution.

XII. Appendices

A. Works Consulted

  1. Big Ten Academic Alliance: Principles and Protocols for Interlibrary Loan of Special Collections Materials
  2. Massie, Dennis. 2013. Tiers for Fears: Sensible, Streamlined Sharing of Special Collections. Dublin, Ohio: OCLC Research.
  3. ACRL Code of Ethics for Special Collections Librarians
  4. ALA Interlibrary Loan Code for the United States

B. Additional Resources

  1. Olivieri, B., & Mehaffey, A. (2015). Interlibrary Loan of Special Collections Materials: An Overview and Case Study. RBM: A Journal of Rare Books, Manuscripts, and Cultural Heritage, 16(2), 113-126. doi:
  2. OCLC SHARES (2021). Principles and Protocols for Sharing Special Collections through Interlibrary Loan.

C. Terminology

  1. Dictionary of Archives Terminology (SAA)
  2. Art and Architecture Thesaurus

D. Checklists

The following are checklists for both borrowers and lenders of Exhibition Loans and Resource Sharing:

Exhibition Loans Checklist - Borrowers

Prior to Receiving Loaned Materials:

EJ0bIJKA0J0UFAAAAAElFTkSuQmCC Research Lending Institution

EJ0bIJKA0J0UFAAAAAElFTkSuQmCC Consider Ethical Implications

EJ0bIJKA0J0UFAAAAAElFTkSuQmCC Consider Operational Impact

EJ0bIJKA0J0UFAAAAAElFTkSuQmCC Request materials from borrowing institution

EJ0bIJKA0J0UFAAAAAElFTkSuQmCC Complete and Send Facility Report

EJ0bIJKA0J0UFAAAAAElFTkSuQmCC Negotiate Terms of Loan

EJ0bIJKA0J0UFAAAAAElFTkSuQmCC Sign Loan Paperwork

EJ0bIJKA0J0UFAAAAAElFTkSuQmCC Signatory is authorized to sign formal loan documents

EJ0bIJKA0J0UFAAAAAElFTkSuQmCC Pay fees as needed throughout loan process

EJ0bIJKA0J0UFAAAAAElFTkSuQmCC Obtain Insurance for materials and Certificate of Insurance if needed

After Receiving Loaned Materials:

EJ0bIJKA0J0UFAAAAAElFTkSuQmCC Check condition of materials

EJ0bIJKA0J0UFAAAAAElFTkSuQmCC Create condition reports

EJ0bIJKA0J0UFAAAAAElFTkSuQmCC Photograph items upon receipt

EJ0bIJKA0J0UFAAAAAElFTkSuQmCC Properly store and secure loaned materials

EJ0bIJKA0J0UFAAAAAElFTkSuQmCC Photograph items for catalogs or marketing materials if approved in loan agreement

EJ0bIJKA0J0UFAAAAAElFTkSuQmCC Exhibit items according to loan agreement

Prior to Installation:

EJ0bIJKA0J0UFAAAAAElFTkSuQmCC Research copyright considerations

EJ0bIJKA0J0UFAAAAAElFTkSuQmCC Cite and credit lending institution in exhibition documentation and any publications

After Deinstallation:

EJ0bIJKA0J0UFAAAAAElFTkSuQmCC Properly store and secure loaned materials until shipping

EJ0bIJKA0J0UFAAAAAElFTkSuQmCC Check condition of materials

EJ0bIJKA0J0UFAAAAAElFTkSuQmCC Create condition reports

EJ0bIJKA0J0UFAAAAAElFTkSuQmCC Photograph items prior to shipping

EJ0bIJKA0J0UFAAAAAElFTkSuQmCC Pack materials according to loan agreement

EJ0bIJKA0J0UFAAAAAElFTkSuQmCC Sign any final paperwork

EJ0bIJKA0J0UFAAAAAElFTkSuQmCC Ship materials or hand off to courier according to loan agreement

Exhibition Loans Checklist - Lenders

After receiving a loan request:

EJ0bIJKA0J0UFAAAAAElFTkSuQmCC Determine if the loan is possible

EJ0bIJKA0J0UFAAAAAElFTkSuQmCC Consider ethical implications

EJ0bIJKA0J0UFAAAAAElFTkSuQmCC Consider operational impact

EJ0bIJKA0J0UFAAAAAElFTkSuQmCC Review Facility Report of lending institution

EJ0bIJKA0J0UFAAAAAElFTkSuQmCC Initial conservation or curatorial review

EJ0bIJKA0J0UFAAAAAElFTkSuQmCC Obtain approval by the appropriate authority

EJ0bIJKA0J0UFAAAAAElFTkSuQmCC Negotiate Loan Agreement

EJ0bIJKA0J0UFAAAAAElFTkSuQmCC Complete Conservation Review

EJ0bIJKA0J0UFAAAAAElFTkSuQmCC Condition Reports

EJ0bIJKA0J0UFAAAAAElFTkSuQmCC Photographs of Items

EJ0bIJKA0J0UFAAAAAElFTkSuQmCC Insurance Documentation

EJ0bIJKA0J0UFAAAAAElFTkSuQmCC Assess value of the items

EJ0bIJKA0J0UFAAAAAElFTkSuQmCC Obtain approval by the appropriate authority

EJ0bIJKA0J0UFAAAAAElFTkSuQmCC Pack items for safe transport

EJ0bIJKA0J0UFAAAAAElFTkSuQmCC Complete any Customs paperwork as needed

EJ0bIJKA0J0UFAAAAAElFTkSuQmCC Ship or deliver items as agreed upon

EJ0bIJKA0J0UFAAAAAElFTkSuQmCC Share any copyright information with the borrowing institution

Resource Sharing Checklist - Borrowers

Prior to Receiving Loaned Materials:

EJ0bIJKA0J0UFAAAAAElFTkSuQmCC Ensure a loan of physical material is necessary

EJ0bIJKA0J0UFAAAAAElFTkSuQmCC Consider Ethical Implications

EJ0bIJKA0J0UFAAAAAElFTkSuQmCC Consider Operational Impact

EJ0bIJKA0J0UFAAAAAElFTkSuQmCC When possible, follow established workflows for interlibrary loan between your home institution and the lending institution

EJ0bIJKA0J0UFAAAAAElFTkSuQmCC Document the request

EJ0bIJKA0J0UFAAAAAElFTkSuQmCC Negotiate terms and establish a loan agreement

EJ0bIJKA0J0UFAAAAAElFTkSuQmCC Determine if the material can be photographed by user

EJ0bIJKA0J0UFAAAAAElFTkSuQmCC Sign Loan Paperwork as needed

EJ0bIJKA0J0UFAAAAAElFTkSuQmCC Signatory is authorized to sign formal loan documents

EJ0bIJKA0J0UFAAAAAElFTkSuQmCC Pay fees as needed

EJ0bIJKA0J0UFAAAAAElFTkSuQmCC Obtain Insurance as needed

After Receiving Loaned Materials:

EJ0bIJKA0J0UFAAAAAElFTkSuQmCC Check condition of materials and document any concerns

EJ0bIJKA0J0UFAAAAAElFTkSuQmCC Properly store and secure loaned materials

Providing Access:

EJ0bIJKA0J0UFAAAAAElFTkSuQmCC Serve materials to patrons in designated area

EJ0bIJKA0J0UFAAAAAElFTkSuQmCC Discuss photography and copyright concerns with the user

After Access is Provided:

EJ0bIJKA0J0UFAAAAAElFTkSuQmCC Properly store and secure loaned materials until shipping

EJ0bIJKA0J0UFAAAAAElFTkSuQmCC Check condition of materials and document any concerns

EJ0bIJKA0J0UFAAAAAElFTkSuQmCC Pack materials according to loan agreement

EJ0bIJKA0J0UFAAAAAElFTkSuQmCC Sign any final paperwork

EJ0bIJKA0J0UFAAAAAElFTkSuQmCC Ship materials or hand off to courier according to loan agreement

Resource Sharing Checklist - Lenders

After receiving a loan request:

EJ0bIJKA0J0UFAAAAAElFTkSuQmCC Determine if loaning physical materials is necessary

EJ0bIJKA0J0UFAAAAAElFTkSuQmCC Consider ethical implications

EJ0bIJKA0J0UFAAAAAElFTkSuQmCC Consider operational impact

EJ0bIJKA0J0UFAAAAAElFTkSuQmCC Negotiate Loan Agreement

EJ0bIJKA0J0UFAAAAAElFTkSuQmCC Review any established resource sharing workflows that exist between the institutions.

EJ0bIJKA0J0UFAAAAAElFTkSuQmCC Complete Conservation Review as needed

EJ0bIJKA0J0UFAAAAAElFTkSuQmCC Condition Reports

EJ0bIJKA0J0UFAAAAAElFTkSuQmCC Photographs of Items

EJ0bIJKA0J0UFAAAAAElFTkSuQmCC Insurance Documentation

EJ0bIJKA0J0UFAAAAAElFTkSuQmCC Assess value of the items

EJ0bIJKA0J0UFAAAAAElFTkSuQmCC Obtain approval by the appropriate authority

EJ0bIJKA0J0UFAAAAAElFTkSuQmCC Pack items for safe transport and include any special instructions for the borrowing institution

EJ0bIJKA0J0UFAAAAAElFTkSuQmCC Complete any Customs paperwork as needed

EJ0bIJKA0J0UFAAAAAElFTkSuQmCC Ship or deliver items as agreed upon

EJ0bIJKA0J0UFAAAAAElFTkSuQmCC Share any copyright information with the borrowing institution

E. Paperwork Samples

  1. Sample Facility Report - American Alliance of Museums (available for a fee)
  2. Sample Condition Report - Free Library of Philadelphia Codex and Non-Codex Condition Reports (in shared folder)
  3. Sample Loan Agreement - Connecticut Historical Society; Texas A&M Cushing Agreement (in shared folder)
  4. To create your own paperwork, review the guidance below:

(The following outlines for developing paperwork were included in the 2012 ACRL/RBMS Guidelines for Interlibrary and Exhibition Loans of Special Collections Materials and included here with minor revisions.)

Outline for facility report

As an alternative to the AAM report, borrowing institutions may prefer to create their own facility report. If so, the report should include the following information, which can be organized under eight basic headings:

1. The Borrower

State full name of institution, address, fax, and telephone numbers. Briefly describe the nature of the institution. Indicate the size of the staff and name(s) of staff member(s) in charge of the exhibition.

2. The Building

Indicate the date and type of building construction, size of the exhibition space, and its location within the building.

3. Fire Protection

Describe in detail the fire detection and fire extinguishing/suppression system.

4. Security

Describe how items on exhibition will be properly safeguarded against theft or damage. Describe the exhibition cases and locks and the method by which framed items are mounted on the wall. Describe the intrusion detection system in the exhibition area. If security staff is employed, give the number of security staff employed and the number on duty at any time. Indicate the days and hours that the exhibition will be regularly open. Indicate whether the space may be rented to outside organizations, and if any other use is made of the space other than for exhibition viewing.

5. Environment

Indicate the range of temperature and relative humidity in the exhibition areas and the areas for packing and storage. Indicate the maximum variation percentage within a 24-hour period for temperature and relative humidity in those areas and how the readings were measured.

Describe any environmental monitoring equipment. Describe the lighting in the exhibition area. Identify the types of lighting fixtures in the exhibition and work areas and provide the exact light levels in foot-candles, lux, or other standard measure, indicating how these readings were taken. Explain how items on exhibition will be protected from ultraviolet radiation deriving from natural or artificial sources in the exhibition and work areas.

Indicate whether food and drink are ever permitted in the exhibition area for receptions or other functions.

6. Handling the Loaned Materials

Indicate that the institution will use proper, accepted, professional standards at all stages of the exhibition process, including meeting the lender’s requirements concerning such matters as matting, framing, or the fabrication of custom cradles.

7. Insurance

Describe the borrowing institution’s insurance coverage and give the name of the insurer and broker. Offer to provide a copy of the policy if requested.

8. References and Loan History

Include a list of other institutions that have lent items to the borrowing institution for recent exhibitions. The list should include appropriate contact information for each institution.

Work Cited

American Association of Museums. General Facility Report. Washington, DC: American Association of Museums Registrars Committee, 2008.

Outline for a Condition Report Form

A. Administrative information

  1. Borrowing institution
  2. Exhibition title
  3. Title and call/accession number of item to be lent
  4. Preparer’s name, date prepared

B. Description of condition before loan

  1. Considerations for published materials

    1. Condition of book (spine, cover, corners, edges, etc.)

    2. Condition of pages to be exhibited
  2. Considerations for manuscript, archival, or visual materials

    1. Medium

    2. Condition
  3. Additional considerations for framed materials

    1. Size of stretcher/panel, image, sheet, frame/mat

    2. Location of signature, date, marks, labels

    3. Condition of frame and any auxiliary supports

    4. Additional remarks on condition

    5. Image(s) of item

C. Packing/travel housing requirements

D. Special exhibition requirements (e.g., maximum number of days item may be exhibited or other special considerations)

E. Report of condition upon return to lending institution

F. Signature and date by preparer/examiner

Exhibition Loan Agreements

Exhibition Loan Agreements used by Special Collections Libraries vary in length from brief (two or three pages) to the very detailed (12 or more pages). The following is a sample only.

Institutions should consult with legal counsel before adapting this or any other exhibition loan agreement for their use.

Outline for Sample Exhibition Loan Agreement Form

This form should be on letterhead—or give borrower’s name, address, phone, fax, e-mail address in a heading—and provide ample space for pertinent information, including:

Borrower Information:

  1. Institution Name (may wish to include space for a specific department, too)
  2. Address
  3. Web site
  4. Contact person (with telephone, fax, e-mail address)

Date of Request: (while this will be at the end with the signatures, it may be useful for all parties if this is also prominently placed near the top/beginning of the document).


Specify title of exhibition, location(s), and inclusive dates of loan.


  1. Institution Name
  2. Address
  3. Web site
  4. Contact person (with telephone, fax, e-mail address)
  5. Credit (exact form of lender’s name for catalog, labels, and publicity)

Description of Item(s) to be Loaned:

  1. Author/artist (with dates, if known)
  2. Title or description (as appropriate)
  3. Imprint and date(s) (as appropriate)
  4. Lender’s call number or accession number
  5. For art work, location of date (if any)
  6. For art work, form and location of signature (if any)
  7. Medium/material and support
  8. Specify how you wish to exhibit the item
  9. Specify desired page opening for bound material
  10. Dimensions of item alone (height, width, depth, weight)
  11. Dimensions of item with mat, frame, base or required cradle, if any (height, width, depth, weight)
  12. Condition, noting existing breaks, tears, scratches, abrasions, paint losses, other insecurities or defects in the work (if necessary, a separate sheet of paper can be attached to the form)
  13. Does the lender own copyright to the work? If not, who does?
  14. Value

Special instructions:

  1. For artwork, may the borrower reframe or remat?
  2. Substitute Plexiglas for glass?
  3. Date by which loans are to reach the borrower (borrower will be in contact with the lender regarding shipping arrangements)
  4. Other instructions for packing, transport, and installation
  5. Borrower will provide copies of the exhibition catalog, or other materials bearing descriptions or images of the items to the lender as a courtesy


Also see Terms and Conditions, stated below.

Does the lender prefer to maintain insurance? If yes, state the estimated premium to be charged to the borrower. If no, state the insurance value (fair market value) in U.S. currency.

Photographs and reproductions:

Unless permission is declined here, it is understood that this item may be photographed, digitized, videotaped, telecast, and reproduced for publicity purposes connected with this exhibition and for illustrations in a catalog or other publication, printed or electronic, and that reproductions of it may be made and distributed for educational use.

Except for loan-related publicity and condition documentation purposes, the borrower may not photograph or otherwise reproduce the items without written permission from the lender.

May the borrower reproduce the item in a catalog or brochure, a website, or for print or online publicity or educational purposes?

Are reproductions available from the lender? If so, in what format?

Does the lender hold exclusive copyright? If not, whom might the borrower contact to acquire reproduction rights?


In addition to having a Facility Report on file, institutions may want to include a statement about environmental conditions of the exhibition space within the loan agreement form.

Terms and conditions governing the exhibition loan agreement:

  1. The conditions set forth in this form apply to all objects lent to [Insert name of borrowing institution] (the “Borrower”) and cannot be altered, changed, waived, or otherwise amended, except as agreed upon in writing.
  2. The Borrower will exercise the same care with respect to the item (the “work”) referred to as it does in the safekeeping of comparable property of its own.
  3. The work shall remain in the possession of the Borrower and/or the other institutions participating in the exhibition (the “participating institutions”) for which it has been borrowed for the time specified, but may be withdrawn from such exhibition at any time by the Borrower and/or any of the participating institutions.
  4. The work will be returned only to the Lender at the address stated unless the Borrower is notified by the Lender in writing to the contrary. If the legal ownership of the work shall change during the duration of the loan, whether by reason of death, sale, insolvency, gift or otherwise, the new owner or agent may, prior to its return, be required to establish this legal right to receive the item by proof satisfactory to the Borrower. It is incumbent upon the Lender to notify the Borrower of any change of address.
  5. Unless otherwise indicated, the cost of transportation and packing will be borne by the Borrower. The method of shipment shall be agreed upon by both parties. The Lender certifies that the property is in such condition as to withstand the ordinary strains of packing, transportation, and handling. The Lender shall assure the property is adequately and securely packed for the type of shipment agreed upon, including transmitting to the Borrower any special instructions for unpacking and repacking.
  6. Unless the Lender chooses to maintain insurance, the Borrower will insure the work on a wall-to-wall basis under a fine arts exhibition policy for the amount specified above by the Lender against all risk of physical loss or damage from any external cause while in transit and on location during the period of this loan. Note that the Borrower’s fine arts policy may contain the usual exclusions for loss and damage to the work due to wear and tear, gradual deterioration, insects, vermin, inherent vice, damage resulting from any repairing, restoration, or retouching process, nuclear reaction, radiation or radioactive contamination, and risks of war and that, in the event of loss or damage, recovery may be limited to such amount, if any, as may be paid by the insurer, hereby releasing the Borrower, each of the participating institutions, and the Trustee officers agents and employees of the Borrower and of each of the participating institutions from liability for any and all claims arising out of such loss or damage.
  7. If the Lender chooses to maintain insurance coverage, then, prior to the shipment of the work, the Borrower must be supplied with a certificate of insurance naming the Borrower and each of the participating institutions as an additional insured party or waiving subrogation against the Borrower and each of the participating institutions. If the Lender shall fail to supply the Borrower with such a certificate, this loan agreement shall constitute a release of the Borrower and of each of the participating institutions from any liability in connection with the work. The Borrower cannot accept responsibility for any error or deficiency of information furnished to the Lender’s insurer or for any lapses in coverage.
  8. It is understood that the Borrower will not unframe, clean, restore, repair, rehouse, or otherwise alter the work without the express consent of the Lender. Evidence of damage to works in transit or while in the Borrower’s custody will be reported immediately to the Lender.
  9. Unless the Borrower is notified in writing to the contrary, it is understood that the objects lent may be photographed by the general public.
  10. The Borrower’s right to return the work shall accrue absolutely at the termination of the loan. If the Borrower, after making all reasonable efforts and through no fault of its own, shall be unable to return the work within 60 days after such termination, then the Borrower shall have the absolute right to place the work in storage, to charge regular storage fees and the cost of the insurance therefore, and to have and enforce a lien for such fees and cost. If, after five years, the work shall not have been reclaimed, then, and in consideration for its storage, insurance, and safeguarding during such period, the work shall be deemed an unrestricted gift to the Borrower.
  11. The Borrower accepts this agreement on the understanding that the Lender has full authority to enter into such an agreement as the legal owner of the work or authorized agent of the owner.

The conditions of this loan, as stated above, are accepted:

[To be signed and dated by representatives for the Lender and the Borrower.]