Category:Best Practices

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Introduction to SPNHC & Best Practices

The development of best practices in collections care is a key function of SPNHC. The SPNHC wiki Best Practices pages are a product of the Society’s Best Practices Committee with contributions from the broader SPNHC membership. One of the Committee's goals is to codify and disseminate best practices and to provide and enable infrastructure for ensuring that these best practices do not remain static, but continue to develop and evolve in response to innovations within the field. By initiating and hosting web-based discussion forums, organizing workshop meetings and special interest groups, initiating new sessional committees, and participating in wider community initiatives, SPNHC will continue to take the lead in promoting best practices across natural history collections care.

Areas of best practice with content are linked below. For a list of content areas for which the SPNHC Best Practices Committee is actively seeking content visit the list of desired best practices content areas. To view past Best Practices Committee Meeting agendas and notes, see the Best Practices Documentation page. To watch the video tutorial on how to work on the wiki, please see our YouTube channel. (SPNHC Wiki Training 2015 YouTube video)

Defining Best Practices

Best practices have been variously defined as techniques or methodologies that, through experience and research, have proven to reliably lead to a desired result; procedures that are generally agreed upon but not legislated; or commendable actions and philosophies that successfully solve problems, can be replicated, and demonstrate an awareness of professional standards.


  • Best (management) practice - generally agreed upon but un-legislated standard of practice, especially for professional, business, and academic pursuits. (Cato et. al. 2003)
  • Guideline - formalization presented by a technical society or governmental agency as basis for voluntary adherence as the basis for acceptance of work product; requires additional thought and evaluation by the practitioner to implement on single project work. (Hatheway 1992)
  • Standard
- Measure, principle, model, etc., established for use as a rule or basis in comparison in measuring or judging capacity, quantity, content, extent, value, quantity, etc. (Anonymous 1982)
- Codification of technology or procedure developed, tested, peer-reviewed, and published by a professional society or governmental agency; to be adhered to by members and subscribers; generally must be followed closely in attention to its prescribed detail. (Hatheway 1992)

Selected Bibliography

Anonymous. 1982. Glossary of occupational safety and health terms. The Paper Conservator, 7:32-82.
Cato, P., J. Golden and S.B. McLaren. 2003. Museum Wise: Workplace Words Defined. Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections.
Cato, P. 2001. Best Practices - What Does That Imply?Pdf logo - small.gif
Elkin, L and C.A. Norris. 2019. Preventive Conservation: Collection Storage. Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections.
SPNHC Newsletter, February, 2001. Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections.
Hatheway, A. W. 1992. Standards, guidelines and protocols: Keeping our house in order. AEG News, 35(1):26-28. Association of Engineering Geologists.

Supplies & Vendors


Paisley S. Cato


This category has the following 14 subcategories, out of 14 total.







Pages in category "Best Practices"

The following 62 pages are in this category, out of 62 total.