Acquisitions Policy

This policy statement is intended to establish terms and criteria of the accessioning by the Irish Architectural Archive of material held in private hands and acquired by means of purchase, donation or loan. It is not intended to cover accrual of material from public sources, or as a result of any statutory or other role which has been or may be assigned to the Irish Architectural Archive by any public agency, nor is it intended to cover the accrual of material by survey or other work carried out by the Archive itself. However, the basic principals set out in section 1 below may be regarded as universally applicable to all material acquired in whatever way by the Archive.

1. General Collection Policy

The primary aims and objectives of the Irish Architectural Archive are set out in the institution’s Memorandum and Articles of Association, and in particular, in Section 2 of the Memorandum of Association. This reads as follows:

‘The objects for which the Company is established are to act as a central and authoritative organisation or body for collecting, making, compiling, collating, classifying, indexing, reproducing, storing, preserving and making publicly accessible records (whether photographic, written, diagrammatic, literary, graphic, pictorial or of any other description) of buildings (which expression as herein used includes roads, paving, bridges, harbours, street and garden furniture, structures and artificial erections of all kinds, whether temporary or permanent, groups, arrangements and surroundings thereof, together with their relationship to each other and to the landscape) wherever situated within or outside the State or special features therein which are or may be considered to be buildings or features of architectural, artistic, historical or literary merit or interest or buildings or features of which records should for any reason, be procured or obtained and preserved’.

Section 2 of the Memorandum of Association established that the Irish Architectural Archive is a collecting institution, and provides the parameters which must govern the collection policy in terms both of the physical nature and intellectual content of the material acquired.

The Irish Architectural Archive seeks to acquire material which will further the objectives set out in and meet the criteria established by Section 2 of the Memorandum of Association.

2. Conditions for Acceptance of Material

2.1 Material acquired by the Irish Architectural Archive should further the aims of the institution as set out in Section 2 of the Memorandum of Association. Acquisitions which do not meet the criteria set out in this Section will only be accepted under very exceptional circumstances. The Archive reserves the right to transfer collections (or parts thereof if appropriate) which are considered superfluous to an appropriate public institution or body.

2.2 The provenance of all items acquired by the Archive should be ascertained and recorded in the Accessions Register in as much detail as possible. The Archive will not seek to acquire any material unless it is satisfied that the donor, vendor or lender has valid title to the material and that the material has not been acquired in or exported from its country of origin in violation of that country’s laws.

2.3 The Archive’s preferred way of acquiring material is as a gift (or bequest). All gifts to the Archive should be accompanied by a written transfer of title.

2.4 Conditions attached to gifts or bequests are to be considered carefully before acceptance. Conditions which hamper the Archives ability to usefully process, conserve or make publicly available the material in question will only be accepted in exceptional circumstances. Any conditions accepted by the Archive will be adhered to fully.

2.5 The Archive will purchase material as and when the need arises, but its budgets for purchase acquisition are extremely small. Special fund-raising needs to be undertaken to finance specific purchases.

2.6 The Archive will accept material on loan provided only that the following conditions are adhered to:
i The minimum term of deposit is 30 years.
ii The minimum notice of intention to withdraw the collection is 6 months.
iii The Archive is allowed to make and incorporate into the public access collections permanent copies (photographic, microfilm or other as appropriate) of the entire collection or such parts of it as the Archive sees fit prior to the withdrawal of the collection.
iv In cases where the collection being withdrawn is to be sold, the Archive is to be given first refusal on the collection.
v In relation to conditions which might be imposed by the lender while the collection is with the Archive, the Archive’s stance is the same as that set out at 2.4 above.
vi. In cases where the lender requires that the collection be insured, that insurance must be paid for by the lender.
vii. Material loaned to the Archive will be kept in the Archive’s safe custody and under reasonable storage conditions and the Archive will take all reasonable precautions for its preservation, provided that nothing in this statement shall be deemed to require of the Archive at any time any greater amount or degree of care protection or security than the Archive normally provides for its own records and provided further that no liability shall attach to the Archive for any loss or damage to loaned items.

2.7 In all cases where original or unpublished material is acquired by the Archive, be it by gift, purchase or as a loan. the issue of copyright should be fully clarified. If copyright interest in the material is to be transferred to the Archive, this transfer should be made in writing by the relevant copyright holder and care should be taken to insure that the individual making the transfer has the legal right to do so. If copyright is to be retained by the copyright holder, the Archive should be given a contact name and address to which queries regarding reproduction can be addressed. The Archive is generally unwilling to act as copyright agent for the copyright holder.

3. Responsibilities of the Irish Architectural Archive

3.1 The Archive has a responsibility to preserve all of the material in its possession, whether that material has been acquired by gift, purchase of loan, and will take all reasonable precautions to preserve that material from damage, loss or theft, but shall not otherwise be liable for any damage to or loss or theft of that material.

3.2 The Archive will process, list and index the material it acquires. The Archive reserves the right to prioritise its listing projects.

3.3 The Archive reserves the right to return to a depositor any items deemed to be of no interest to the Archive or, with the permission of the depositor, to transfer such items to a more appropriate place of deposit or to destroy them.

3.4 There is a presupposition that items acquired by whatever means are held by the Archive for public purposes, that is to ensure that collections are made available for public consultation. While reserving the right to refuse access to material, the Archive will endeavour to make all of the material in its possession available for public consultation. (See Access and Outreach Policy Statement.)

3.5 The Archive will store the material in its care in as archivally secure an environment as it can, i.e. in conditions not less favourable than those considered acceptable for the storage of the Archive’s own records.

3.6 The Archive will lend material from its collections for the purposes of exhibition or display provided that the terms and conditions set out in the document ‘Irish Architectural Archive – Temporary Loan Agreement Form’ are adhered to.

4. Categories of Material Sought by the Irish Architectural Archive

4.1 Photographs.
A. Negatives Original negatives of all dates and processes are acquired, provided the subject matter falls within the criteria set out in Section 2 of the Memorandum of Association. Exceptions are made in cases of collections which should remain together for historic reasons. Black and white negatives are> B. Positives Original prints of all dates and processes are acquired. Modern copies of original photographs are equally useful and acceptable to the Archive. Black and white prints are preferred.

4.2 Slides. The Archive does not generally acquire or seek to acquire slides. The Archive’s slide collection is not a public access collection, but is used by the staff for lectures etc. However, the Archive will accept donations of slides, provided the subject mater is appropriate and does not substantially duplicate holdings in other parts of the collections.

4.3 Film/Video
The Archive will accept donations of film or videos, provided the subject matter is fully or mainly appropriate. However, for most historical film, the proper Irish repository is the Irish Film Archive.

4.4 Architectural Drawings
The Archive acquires architectural drawings, measured surveys, interior designs etc. which meet the criteria set out in Section 2 of the Memorandum of Association. Copies of architectural drawings, including photographic copies, are also acquired by the Archive, and where it is not possible for original drawings to be acquire, the Archive will seek permission to photograph material.

4.5 Architectural Practice Collections.
The Archive acquires entire collections of drawings from architectural practices. These include material from practices which have ceased to operate and backlogs of material from practices which are still in business. Where possible, and in order to preserve a complete record of a practice, the Archive also seeks to acquire ancillary material including the business records (minute books, letter books, accounts etc.) and correspondence files relating to the projects carried out by the firm. Architectural practice collections are treated as discrete collections by the Archive and are process and listed as such.

4.6 Topographical Drawings and Engravings
The Archive acquires topographical drawings and engravings whose subject matter is appropriate to the criteria set out in Section 2 of the Memorandum of Association. Copies of topographical drawings and engravings are also equally useful to the Archive.

4.7 Maps.
The Archive maintains a small collection of modern printed maps for reference purposes. It does not seek to acquire or to establish a comprehensive collection of historical maps relating to Ireland. However, maps such as estate maps which directly meet the criteria of Section 2 of the Memorandum of Association, and maps which form part of larger collections, are acquired by the Archive.

4.8 Manuscripts.
The Archive acquires original MSS material of any kind (deeds, wills, letters, note-books, account books, memoranda etc.) provided the subject matter is appropriate to the criteria set out in Section 2 of the Memorandum of Association.

4.9 Printed Matter.
The Archive maintains a reference library of printed matter which meets the criteria of Section 2 of the Memorandum of Association, including material on Irish architecture, material on architecture published in Ireland or written by Irish authors, material on architecture in general which has specific relevance to architecture in Ireland etc. The following types of material are acquired:


Periodicals Irish architectural and architectural history magazines and periodicals.

Pamphlets General ephemeral publications such as guide books, trade catalogues, local historical studies, broad sheets, leaflets etc.

Press Cuttings

4.10 Architectural Models.
Architectural models of Irish buildings are acquired by the Archive. Models present particular storage and conservation problems, and in some cases these can be extreme. In such cases the Archive may chose to photograph the model rather that attempt to accession it.

4.11 Electronic Records.
With the increasing use of computer aided design in architectural practice and survey work, a great deal of modern architectural records are created and stored in an electronic format. The Archive will accession electronic records, but only in cases where the meta-data (information relating to the software and hardware used to create the record, the nature and names of the files involved, the format of the files i.e. whether they are text or graphic files and what configuration has been used, the size of the files, the contents of the files, field names, codes and encryption, how the records were created, why, when and by whom etc.) is of sufficient standard to allow the files to be access, retrieved and used in an archival context. The long term viability of all electronic records remains a highly problematic archival problem. The long term viability of such highly complex electronic records as CAD files is even more problematic. With rapid turn-over in both hardware and software, retrieval of relatively recently created files can quickly become impossible. Architectural practices need to be made aware of the difficulties presented by the long term storage of electronic records so that the necessary steps in terms of the creation of accurate meta-data, back-up files and if necessary hard copies of vital records are taken.

For the present, in all cases where the Archive accessions architectural records in electronic format, the Archive will require, in addition to the meta-data, a hard copy of at least the principal drawings – main plans, sections and elevations – for each project in the electronic files.

4.12 Miscellaneous.
Material which meets the criteria set out in Section 2 of the Memorandum of Association, but which does not fall into any of the categories listed above.