Register for the Online Course: “Collection Care”

The International Council on Archive’s “Collection Care” online course is based on the premise that all physical archives will decay over time and that those who care for them need to understand the agents that cause and accelerate that destruction. Managing the preservation of archives requires an understanding of the physical make-up and format of the archive material as well as the intended and unintended impacts of potential solutions. Participants will learn that it is not only unacceptable to take no action to arrest or prevent damage, but it is also always possible to find a way to improve the care of the archives in our custody. Collection care is a complex task that needs to be based on carefully considered priorities and take into consideration the resources that are available. 

Learners will find out about risk management and the agents of deterioration and causes of decay in physical archives. The course will discuss the range of archival media and formats that are found in traditional archives and the challenges this poses to collection care. The building, the environment, the way archives are packaged and shelved as well as handling and cleaning are all covered in detail. There are sections on particular threats such as fire, security, insects and pests and mould. The course looks at sustainable building options as well as environmental monitoring.  

The role of conservation and how to work with professional conservators is included. The course addresses collection surveys, how to carry them out and their value in not only managing collection care but also in providing evidence for arguing for action and resources. Disaster planning and preservation policy are also covered. 

For more about the learning outcomes of this online course, please check the section Downloads at the bottom of this page.  


Course components 

  • The course consists of the following substantive sections: 
  • Terminology and ten agents of deterioration 
  • The Management of Risk 
  • Archival Media and Formats 
  • Decay in Physical Archives 
  • Specifying Archive Buildings 
  • Managing the Building: Fire 
  • Building Risks and Security 
  • Sustainable Building Options 
  • Environmental Monitoring 
  • Insects and Pests 
  • Mould 
  • Handling and Cleaning of Archives 
  • Specifying Shelving for Archives 
  • Use of Packaging 
  • Conservation 
  • Collection Surveys 
  • Disaster Planning 
  • Preservation Policy 

All these sections include exercises or activities which have been designed to enable participants to build up a portfolio of work which will chart their learning. It will also provide the basis for ongoing collection care of their own archives, providing them with a documentation plan as well as data on their own collections. Together the sections amount to a total of 50 hours of study time. Learners have 4 months to complete the full course. Access to the course requires an internet connection but all course materials (presentations, documents and videos) can be downloaded onto computers, smartphones and tablets.  

The course is beginner level. No prior knowledge or experience is needed to take the course and by the end of the course learners will have the knowledge and skills to manage most aspects of archive collection care competently. Learners will get the most out of the course if they work with or have responsibility for archive collections, but this is not a requirement for registration. 

This course is available in English and French. Learners will be able to download a certificate of completion provided a score of 60% or more is achieved in all of the quizzes. 


Who developed this course? 

The course has been developed and written by Jonathan Rhys-Lewis, former Chair of ICA’s Expert Group on Archive Buildings and Environments. Margaret Crockett, ICA’s Training Officer, has edited the course and collaborated on developing the quizzes and exercises. The French translation team was led by Claude Roberto assisted by David Rajotte with contributions from France Saïe-Belaïsch and Thi-Phuong Nguyen. The course was reviewed by members of ICA’s Expert Group on Archive Buildings and Environments and two new professionals. 


Need more information about the number of learners allowed for institutional members? 

We invite our members to check out the ICA Membership Benefits grid where you can find the numbers of learners allowed to be registered in the ICA’s Online Learning Platform depending on the institutional category.    

If you have any questions about the membership benefits for accessing ICA’s Online Learning Platform or the process of registration of the assigned learners, please send us an email at


Need more information about the content of this new online course? 

For any questions related to the learning outcomes and the content displayed in this course, please contact, Margaret Crockett, ICA Training Officer (