Exhibitions & Loans FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

The following FAQs address questions that may arise when using the guidelines and templates in the Exhibitions & Loans Documentation offered by Preservation Services. If your question is not answered here, please contact preserve_wpc@harvard.edu.


Do we have to abide by these guidelines?

Preservation Services guidelines are recommendations based on expert knowledge, cross-disciplinary research, and negotiations with key stakeholders such as Harvard's Office of the General Counsel and Risk Management & Audit Services (RMAS). We do not have the authority to require adherence to these recommendations, but the guidelines explain that if you choose not to follow them, you may be increasing the risk of damage or loss to the collections, and consequently may invalidate portions of the insurance policy that covers your collections. 

What is the difference between internal and external hand carry requirements?

[Coming Soon]

What if none of the packing and transport options applies neatly to the collection item in question (i.e., odd sizes, special environmental or handling needs)?

Talk to a conservator about odd sizes and special needs. We cannot cover all possibilities in the guidelines, and you will get the best advice for an item’s particular situation by speaking directly with a conservator.

It’s raining/snowing and these items have to transfer today to make a deadline! What are the options for transporting collections materials when we can’t walk them across campus?

The first thing to do is arrange for a rental vehicle such as Zipcar (as low as $8 per hour). Second, protect the item with additional layers of waterproof packaging material. Third, make sure covered loading docks are used if at all possible.

There are a lot of recommendations for using a Fine Arts Carrier, which is expensive. We haven’t used one in the past. Why should we do it now, considering the extra expense?

[Coming Soon]

What’s the difference between incoming and outgoing, internal and external loans?

Incoming/outgoing refers to the direction that the item is going (are you bringing it in, or are you lending it out?). 

Internal loans are on-campus within the Boston area. External loans involve off-campus transport, non-Harvard institutions, and any Harvard institutions outside the Boston area.

Why do we have only one agreement for both external and internal outgoing loans?

We carefully considered the needs of campus institutions against the risks that concern the Risk Management & Audit Services office. We determined that this universal language is tight enough to fulfill the conditions set by the RMAS office, and at the same time reflect the reality of doing business in libraries and archives (both on-campus and off-campus), which may have different working practices than the traditional museum context for which most loan agreements are written.

How can I change the language in the Outgoing Loan Agreement?

The General Conditions in the outgoing loan agreement have been carefully vetted by the Insurance Office, Office of the General Counsel, and Harvard Library stakeholders. This language should not be altered in order to maintain the confidence of all parties in the acceptability of the conditions. However, if you have an object for which you wish to waive or alter certain conditions, you may add these stipulations to the Special Conditions section for each individual item.

Do we have to use the Incoming Loan Agreement form whenever we’re borrowing something?

No, use of this form is not required. It will only be used in the rare case when a Lender doesn’t have one of their own. Otherwise, the Lender will supply you with their agreement and both parties use that as the record of the loan. 

What if I am working with a governmental borrower and they request to use government indemnity in lieu of commercial insurance?

Harvard Risk Management and Audit Services' Risk Financing and Insurance group has advised us not to accept government indemnity because there are a variety of risks associated with the coverage.  If a governmental borrower cannot use commercial insurance, all requests for use of government indemnity should be discussed by the Lender with Harvard Risk Management and Audit Services, Risk Financing and Insurance.

What does the insurance legalese in the loan agreement really mean?

Preservation Services is not authorized to provide an interpretation of this language. We tried to give you easy access to the information that you will need to assess a Borrower’s insurance policy against the Insurance Office’s criteria. We recommend that you contact the Insurance Office directly with any questions. That said, if you have a question about the language and need a quick and unofficial answer, you could ask other registrars on campus about their experience and how the Insurance Office has interpreted the language to them in the past. If you don’t know who to contact, please send your inquiry to preserve_wpc@harvard.edu.

Is my library covered in Harvard’s Fine Arts Policy?

Contact Harvard's Risk Management and Audit Services department to verify the type and requirements of coverage.

I don’t understand some of the terms used in the Condition Check Form. How can I find out what they mean?

[Coming Soon]

Transfer Form/Loan Receipt is a long title…why both names?

“Loan Receipt” is the term commonly used in the registrarial world. “Transfer Form” is the term commonly used on Harvard’s campus for moving collections from one building to another. Since the information on the form is similar, we decided to use both terms.

Which Facility Report form should I use: AAM or RBMS?

If you are working with a museum, they will expect to see the AAM report, which is more widely used than the RBMS version. We recommend that you complete the AAM form for your facility, but be aware that the RBMS form may be used by other libraries who are requesting loans. 

What does a courier do and when should we send one?

A courier is a library staff member who oversees the transport, packing, installation, and deinstallation of loaned collections. A courier is required if:

  • The loaned work has a moderate to high insurance value
  • The loaned work is fragile or has special handling considerations
  • The transit is complex
  • The exhibit installation requires detailed knowledge of the object or expertise specific to Harvard Library staff


Should we charge a loan fee?

Some libraries choose to charge a loan fee to offset the administrative or supply costs associated with a loan and to manage the volume of loan requests they receive. A loan fee is different from the costs of loan (e.g., shipping, packing, conservation treatment, mount making, and exhibition preparation), and is charged in addition to these costs. On average, loan fees range from a blanket $200 per loan (including multiple objects) to $250 per object.

What's the best way to charge the borrower for the costs of loan?

Many libraries choose to bill the Borrower for a loan differently. In general you have two options:1) have vendors charge the Borrower directly, or 2) incur the costs associated with the loan and bill the Borrower for reimbursement. Many libraries find the first option simpler and prefer to utilize it whenever possible.