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November 17, 2018
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Library Board Policies - Art Collection Management Policy

1.0 Introduction

The Halton Hills Public Library Art Collection Management Policy sets forth the goals of the Halton Hills Public Library with respect to managing its permanent collection of art (including paintings, prints, drawings, sculptures, artifacts and heritage objects). The policy outlines responsibilities and sets standards for art collection related activities at the Halton Hills Public Library.

1.1 Legal Authority

The Halton Hills Public Library retains an art collection of art under the trusteeship of the Halton Hills Public Library Board which is appointed by the Town of Halton Hills Town Council under the provisions of the Ontario Public Library Act. The art collection is held and managed in the public trust.

2.0 Responsibility of Halton Hills Public Library Staff and Volunteers

The Chief Librarian is ultimately responsible for the art collection and with the Helson Gallery Curator ensures that art collection management policies, guidelines procedures and standards are developed and implemented. The Curator is responsible for ensuring that anyone who works with the art collection is aware of policies and procedures. Halton Hills Library staff and volunteers must follow these procedures and standards in a consistent manner.

Halton Hills Library staff strives to maintain art collection records in an environment conducive to preservation. The Curator will ensure that the art collection is inspected regularly for evidence of damage or deterioration. Any Halton Hills Library staff member or volunteer who discovers a preservation problem or damage to an item part of the art collection must document and report it immediately to the Curator.

All Halton Hills Library staff is responsible for maintaining the security of the art collection. This includes loss or breaches in security particularly for those items on public display at library branches. Halton Hills Library staff and volunteers must document and report immediately any confirmed loss to the Curator who will report it to the Chief Librarian. The Curator will ensure that Halton Hills Library staff and volunteers who have physical access to the art collection are trained in and use appropriate care and handling procedures.

2.1 Ethics

The Halton Hills Public Library acquires artworks if it has adequate resources (human, financial, temporal, spatial) to document, preserve, store, research, exhibit and interpret the artwork/s being considered. The Halton Hills Public Library does not acquire material:

  1. which has been collected, sold or otherwise transferred in contravention of any provincial or national statute;
  2. which has questionable, undetermined or unethical history of ownership;
  3. which has been collected, sold or otherwise transferred in contravention of the 1970 UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property (or any similar statues) as ratified by Canada on June 28, 1978.
  4. which may constitute a conflict of interest related to the issue of personal collection. Personal collecting is defined as the acquisition by Halton Hills Public Library and its employees, and the Halton Hills Public Library Board of an artwork similar to or related to that which the Halton Hills Public Library collects or intends to acquire. All Library staff and Board members are required to declare a conflict of interest when such a situation arises. Halton Hills Public Library staff and Board members are required to offer the Halton Hills Public Library the opportunity to acquire the artwork/s in question.

3.0 Acquisition

The Halton Hills Public Library collects artworks in accordance with the mandate of the collection. The collection is for the purpose of research, exhibition and interpretation for all generations. A budget line is provided in the annual operating budget of the Halton Hills Public Library for the cataloguing, storage and care of artwork acquired by the Halton Hills Public Library.

3.1 Methods of Acquisition

Objects are acquired through gift or bequest, exchange and transfer.

       Gift or Bequest: A gift or bequest may be accepted from any source, including a Halton Hills Library staff member.

       Exchange: Exchanging artworks between institutions is an established and useful means of developing and improving a collection. Exchanges are arranged by

       the Curator with the approval of the Chief Librarian.

Exchange may be made provided that:

  • Both parties are in full agreement with the terms and conditions
  • Both the acquisition and disposal of the artworks are documented for the permanent records

       Transfer: The Halton Hills Public Library may acquire artworks by transfer from other institutions. The transfer must be supported with documentation.

The Halton Hills Public Library will accept donations of artworks according to the following criteria:

  • Historical and contemporary works of art specific to the Town of Halton Hills
  • Historical artworks relevant to people, events and places in the Town of Halton Hills
  • Original works of art by noted contemporary and historic Canadian artists

The Halton Hills Public Library reserves the right not to accept any gift of art that will require of the Library a financial commitment towards maintenance, use or expansion.

The Halton Hills Public Library will accept donations of artworks based upon the following considerations:

  • Are in good to excellent condition
  • Are well documented with an established and adequate provenance

3.2 Approval Process for Acquisition 

Acquisitions are ultimately the responsibility of the Chief Librarian in consultation with the Helson Gallery Curator. The Curator will issue a prospective donor or vendor a Temporary Receipt when artworks are received for consideration by the Halton Hills Public Library Board.

If the work is rejected, the owner will be notified and given thirty days to retrieve the artwork. If the owner does not retrieve the artwork within thirty days it will be returned to the owner at the owner’s expense.

A Deed of Gift or sales invoice must be signed to prove the transfer of ownership if the work is accepted. The owner has six months to return the signed Deed of Gift to the Curator. If the owner does not return the signed Deed of Gift in that time period, the artwork is returned at the owner’s expense.

3.3 Income Tax Receipts and Appraisals

Once a year income tax receipts for artworks are issued to all donors to the Halton Hills Public Library art collection. The receipt will reflect fair market value at the time of acquisition determined by appraisal. All tax receipts are issued by the Town of Halton Hills. A tax receipt will not be issued before a Deed of Gift agreement is signed. The appraisal will not be undertaken before a Deed of Gift is signed.

The appraisal is undertaken by an appraiser acting at arm’s length from the Halton Hills Public Library and the donor. If an appraiser is used that is not selected by the Halton Hills Public Library, two letters of reference must be received by the Curator before the appraisal can be completed.

The Curator may provide in-house appraisals for works of art valued at $1000 or less. The cost of an outside appraisal for income tax purposes will be borne by the donor. 

The Curator will not recommend to the public a specific dealer, appraiser or auctioneer, but may provide information with the understanding that this does not constitute an endorsement.

4.0 Documentation

The Halton Hills Public Library must accurately and thoroughly document the art collection to realize its value and significance. Documentation is essential for collection development, research, preservation and interpretation. Documentation is the responsibility of the Curator. Documentation will include information in written, electronic, audio visual or graphic form pertaining to the identity, locality, provenance and transfer of legal title of the artworks in the collection and other related information regarding significance, function, description and condition.

When being integrated into the collection, each artwork must be described and/or photographed in sufficient detail to enable the detection of deterioration. Any change in condition or treatment to an artwork will also be documented, such as conservation by a conservator.

Temporary or permanent change in the status of an artwork such as an outgoing loan on exhibit or deaccessioned must be thoroughly documented. The Halton Hills Public Library will use accepted and consistent standards, methods and procedures to document the collection. Documentation must be maintained as a permanent record. Legal documents dealing with acquisitions must be kept in hard- copy form with duplicate set stored in an off-site location. Copies of electronic records must be maintained and stored off-site. Documentation should be maintained in a secure and stable environment.

5.0 Preservation

The Halton Hills Public Library has a responsibility to preserve its art collection in perpetuity. This includes artworks in storage, on exhibit, used for research, on loan and in transit. Halton Hills Public Library staff (as deemed appropriate) and volunteers will be trained by the Curator in proper and current methods of care and handling of the collection, as it pertains to their area of work.

The preservation of the art collection is the direct responsibility of the Curator and the Halton Hills Public Library staff as appropriate.

6.0 Use

The Halton Hills Public Library is committed to long-term preservation of artworks. A balance must be struck however between preservation of the collection and its use for research, exhibition and educational, promotional and commercial purposes. The Halton Hills Public Library acknowledges that access to and use of the art collection by Halton Hills Public Library staff and public increases the risk to the artworks and requires appropriate controls.

Access to the collection is provided through exhibitions, collection records, research files, and consultation with the Curator. The Freedom of Information pursuant to the Municipal and Protection of Privacy and Copyright legislation restricts access to some information.

The Halton Hills Public Library also respects the provisions of the Ontario Heritage Act and the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

6.1 Halton Hills Public Library Staff Access to the Collection

The level of Halton Hills Public Library staff access to the collection is determined by the Curator. Staff and volunteers who handle artworks must be appropriately trained and supervised.

6.2 Public Use of the Collection

Intellectual access to the collection through records, images and other information may be requested for publication, research, web sites, electronic media, display, promotional materials, personal use, media, films, and advertising. Access to and use of the collection is at the discretion of the Curator and is generally provided to any person who can demonstrate a need. Determining factors include:

  • Condition of the work of visual art
  • Risk to the work of visual art
  • Location
  • Security
  • Copyright 
  • Intended use
  • Expertise of the researcher
  • Human and financial resources available

Access and fee structure for the use of the collection for commercial purposes are governed by the Curator in consultation with the Chief Librarian.

The Halton Hills Public Library must be credited for any use of any part of the collection with the line: “Courtesy of the Halton Hills Public Library”.

7.0 Loans from the Halton Hills Public Library

The Halton Hills Public Library lends artworks to other institutions. Loans are not normally made to individuals. The purpose of the loan must be consistent with the interests of the Halton Hills Public Library and not pose undue risk to the artwork. Loans are made for a specified time period.

The Curator is responsible for ensuring that those who borrow or otherwise use works from the collection for any purpose are able to provide necessary care. Individuals within both the borrowing and lending institutions taking responsibility for the transaction must be authorized to do so. All loans from the Halton Hills Public Library must be approved by the Curator and the Chief Librarian.

Outgoing loans must be fully documented. The documentation will include one copy of the signed loan agreement form including information relating to value and condition. The loan agreement becomes a permanent record.

The Halton Hills Public Library reserves the right not to lend artworks from the collection.

8.0 Insurance

Through the Town of Halton Hills, the Halton Hills Public Library Collection is insured while in storage, on exhibition and on loan. The Chief Librarian is responsible for the insurance of the collection at fair market value and acquiring additional coverage when necessary. The Curator is responsible for providing valuations for insurance purposes.

9.0 Deaccessioning

Deaccessioning refers to the permanent removal of one or more artworks from the collection. In order to maintain a growing and relevant collection in accordance with the mandate and current professional standards, occasionally it is necessary to deaccession an artwork. Deaccessioning must be undertaken in accordance with the highest professional standards and ethics. Reasons must be ethical, defensible and objective. Approval is required from the Halton Hills Public Library Board.

9.1 Criteria for Deaccessioning

The Curator initiating a proposal must be able to demonstrate clearly the need for deaccessioning in accordance with one or more of the following criteria:

  • A work of visual art constitutes a health risk to staff or public
  • A work of visual art has unethical or illegal provenance
  • A work of visual art has been misidentified or is found to be a fake, forgery or copy with no definable purpose for inclusion in the collection
  • The Halton Hills Public Library is incapable of providing conditions necessary for minimum
  • curatorial care
  • A work of art does not fall within the Halton Hills Public Library’s mandate
  • A work of may be removed from the collection as a result of a request for repatriation

9.2 Conditions for Deaccessioning

When an artwork is deaccessioned, the Halton Hills Public Library must ensure:

  • it has clear title to the work or in the case of poorly or undocumented material, be able to demonstrate that it has made a serious diligent and documented investigation to determine ownership
  • there are no legal restrictions that prohibit deaccessioning the work
  • the reasons for the removal of the work from the collection must be thoroughly documented
  • in accordance with professional standards and documentation

If a work is undocumented, the Halton Hills Public Library must make serious and documented effort to learn more about it before considering deaccessioning

9.3 Process of Deaccessioning

The process for deaccessioning must be initiated with a written proposal supported by appropriate documentation and recommended means of disposition. The proposal must be brought forward for review by the Curator and the Chief Librarian will then forward the proposal to the Halton Hills Public Library Board for approval.

9.4 Methods of Disposition

A demonstrative effort must be made to keep a deaccessioned work in the public domain and in Canada by offering it to other museums or public institutions as a gift or for exchange.

A member of the Halton Hills Public Library Board, Halton Hills Public Library staff or volunteers and their family members may not acquire through any means any work deaccessioned by the Halton Hills Public Library.

When the Halton Hills Public Library chooses to deaccession a work, the Curator may consider notifying the original donor as a courtesy.

The following methods may be considered for disposition of a work from the collection:

  1. Gift to another public gallery, museum or institution
  2. Exchange with another public gallery, museum or institution
  3. Sale through a publicly advertised auction sale or by reputable and established dealers. Funds from the sale are deposited with the Halton Hills Public Library Board and set aside for future acquisition of artworks for the Halton Hills Public Library collection.
  4. Destruction
  • if the work poses a danger to staff, public or the collection
  • if the work has deteriorated or is damaged to the point where it does not serve a definable purpose
  • if all reasonable efforts have been made to dispose of the artwork through other methods. Two witnesses must be present to observe and record in writing the destruction.

10.0 Repatriation

The Halton Hills Public Library may repatriate artworks in accordance with the principles and guidelines stated in the Canadian Museums Association Ethics Guidelines. All requests for repatriation must be approached with respect and sensitivity. Halton Hills Public Library recognizes that requests for repatriation can only be resolved on a case-by-case basis.

11.0 Policy Review

The Halton Hills Public Library Art Collection Management Policy is approved by the Halton Hills Public Library Board. The Halton Hills Public Library Art Collection Management Policy is reviewed on a regular basis, or any time that changes are deemed necessary. The Chief Librarian and the Curator will conduct the review. The reviewed version is submitted to the Halton Hills Public Library Board for approval.

Approved: September 13, 2017

Next Scheduled Review: January 2022