About LHSA

Glossary of Terms

Archive, the Term used to denote all LHSA's holdings, used synonymously with 'collections'.
Catalogue Term used to denote lists of collections according to where they come from and when they were created (their provenance - see entry below), and describing their content. The term can be used in relation to the Archive, or an individual collection.
Collection Term used to denote a sub-section of the Archive, e.g. The Royal Edinburgh Hospital collection.
Collection care
Term to denote any and all activity to preserve the collections.
Conservation (interventive and preventive)

To stabilise the condition of, and limit any further damage and deterioration to, a given object whilst working ethically to provide the best treatment possible. Interventive conservation involves treatment to address the chemical and physical effects of damage and deterioration, cleaning and tear repair for example. Preventive conservation involves the provision of proper storage, including monitoring and control of the environment.

ECCO Code of Ethics


General International Standard Archival Description, as developed by the International Council on Archives.  Provides standardised fields and format for the purposes of archival description.


Item Term used to denote a single record.
Material Term used in one of two ways: to either denote the composition of an item, for example paper or wood, usually seen as 'material', or the supplies used in conservation treatment, for example folders and boxes, usually seen as 'materials'.
Object Term used to denote an item not in paper form, such as a piece of equipment or a medical instrument.

Activity to limit the chemical and physical deterioration of a given object. This includes both preventive and interventive conservation activity along with the planning and policy judgements made in order to secure the longevity of a collection or collections.

Primary storage

The first layer of storage material for a given object, for example a paper or melinex sleeve.

Provenance The International Council on Archives' General International Standard Archival Description, Second Edition (ISAD(G)) describes provenance as "the relationship between records and the organisations or individuals that created, accumulated and/or maintained and used them in the conduct of personal or corporate activity".
Record The International Council on Archives' General International Standard Archival Description, Second Edition (ISAD(G)) describes a record as "recorded information, in any form or medium, created or received or maintained, by an organisation or person in the transaction of business or the conduct of affairs". The term is often used synonymously with 'item' and the term 'records' can be used to denote multiple items.
Relative humidity The moisture content of a specific amount of air relative to the maximum amount of moisture that same air could hold at a given temperature, expressed as a percentage.
Secondary storage The second layer of storage material for a given object, for example boxing.
Series Term used to denote a discrete sub-section within a collection, e.g. Royal Edinburgh Hospital, Visiting Committee Minutes.

A collection item is copied in order that the copy may be used for access/display. If high enough standards are applied to the production of the copy, the copy may also serve as an additional means of preserving the informational content of an item for the long-term.


A collection item is copied and de-accessioned, and the copy then becomes the collection item. The substitute is preserved for the long-term and surrogates may be produced as necessary. Substitution is undertaken only if the item is at serious risk of deterioration past the point at which the informational content is accessible and/or the material nature of the item poses risk to health and safety or the long-term preservation of other collection items.

Trusted digital repository

A means to provide long-term, reliable access to digital resources. In LHSA's case this includes material that is born-digital (i.e. created in electronic format) and digital assets produced as copies of collection items, for example digital images.