Archive Collecting Policy

Archives of the Library

1. Introduction

1.1. The aim of the Francis Skaryna Belarusian Library and Museum archive is to ensure that the archive heritage entrusted to the institution is preserved for the future and made widely available in the present.

1.2. Archives are collections of records which grow up naturally in the course of the life and work of a body or individual. They are generally categorised or defined by their provenance or origin (that is by the body that created them or held them), not by the subject matter of the items they contain. These archive collections, where each item is made more important by its relation to the whole, are our most significant holdings, though we also acquire individual manuscripts as well as printed and pictorial material.

1.3. This collecting policy gives details of the history and governance of the Francis Skaryna Belarusian Library and Museum archive. It outlines the scope of its collections, both in terms of geographical area and type of collection, and explains how we develop those collections. It also describes how archives are acquired and processed. A separate Preservation Policy covering the physical care of the collections is to be developed.

2. History and governance

2.1. The Francis Skaryna Belarusian Library and Museum was established in London in 1971 with the aim of encouraging knowledge of Belarus and supporting Belarus-related academic studies outside Belarus, then part of the Soviet Union. Archival materials have always been an integral part of the collection, beginning from the materials which the Library’s founders – Bishop Ceslaus Sipovich, Fr Leo Haroška and Fr Alexander Nadson – passed to the Library. Many Belarusians living in the diaspora have passed their personal collections to the Francis Skaryna Belarusian Library and Museum. Some Belarusian diaspora institutions have also deposited their archives with the Library.

2.2. In 2015, the Francis Skaryna Belarusian Library and Museum reviewed and expanded its mission, committing itself to collecting and preserving the artefacts of the Belarusian people, supporting the life of the Belarusian community in the United Kingdom, contributing to Belarus-related academic studies and encouraging knowledge of Belarus among the British public. The archive has an important role to play in addressing those commitments.

2.3. The Francis Skaryna Belarusian Library and Museum is a registered charity in England and Wales; it is managed by a Board of Trustees. It is funded from voluntary donations and the institution’s investments, which make the Library independent of any particular governmental bodies.

3. The scope of the collection

3.1. Geographical area

Our collecting policy embraces all archives relating to the Belarusian diaspora, particularly in Britain and Western Europe. Mindful of the history of Belarus and the role of aggressive ideologies in destroying Belarusian material culture, suppressing particular aspects of the collective memory and limiting civil freedoms, the Francis Skaryna Belarusian Library and Museum welcomes materials which Belarus-based institutions might find impossible or difficult to collect, preserve and make accessible.

3.2. Media

We collect archives in all media. Three dimensional artefacts, however, are normally dealt with within our museum collection.

3.3. Chronological period

We collect all archives within our collecting remit regardless of date.

3.4. Printed ephemera

such as leaflets, programmes, posters and newspaper cuttings may be acquired for the collection.

3.5. Press cuttings

Press cuttings from newspapers and magazines, as well as website snapshots, which are relevant to the collecting area may be acquired. They will be added to the press cuttings collection.

3.6. Pictorial materials

The Service will seek to acquire pictorial materials, including photographs, postcards and prints, mostly where they reflect particular aspects of Belarusian life in the diaspora.

4. The development of our archive collections

4.1. The Francis Skaryna Belarusian Library and Museum aims always to assist in finding the most appropriate home for materials. For that reason we will co-operate with any institution operating within our collecting area. Where it is deemed by us necessary, preservation of those materials in the United Kingdom will be suggested.

4.2. With any material, every attempt will be made to establish the copyright position at the time of acquisition.

5. How our archives are acquired and processed

5.1. We acquire archive collections as a gift or bequest, or by purchase or transfer.

5.2. If archive collections or individual records can be acquired only through purchase, and they are considered important in the overall context of our holdings, we will seek to do this, using external funding wherever possible.

5.3. In general, once they have been selected and accessioned, archives will be preserved permanently. However we reserve the right to conduct periodic reviews of archives held, and where necessary in the light of research use of those archives, to recommend the disposal of archives deemed not to be worthy of permanent preservation. Permission of depositors of archives will always be sought before they are disposed of.

September 2015