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StEPs Labs are 75- or 90-minute webinars that provide you with valuable information and training from the comfort of your office or home. They are offered in coordination with AASLH’s Standards and Excellence Program for History Organizations, which helps small- and mid-sized history organizations assess policies and practices, manage daily operations and plan for the future. StEPs uses a workbook, an online community with hundreds of resources, and certificates to help your organization identify its strengths and  opportunities for improvement.

Participation in StEPs Labs offers in-depth information on topics central to the operation of your museum, historic house, site, or related organization. Applying what you learn in a Lab to your organization’s policies and practices means you are making meaningful progress.

Your organization can participate in the StEPs labs even if you aren’t enrolled in StEPs. Those who are enrolled will find these webinars directly relevant to the areas and practices covered in the StEPs workbook.

Upcoming StEPs Labs

Watch this space after the Annual Meeting for new webinars!



Watch Past StEPs Labs

Past Labs are available for on-demand download.
Cost: $15 members; $30 non-members

Deaccessioning: The Devil’s in the Details:  A policy that addresses the disposal, trade, or sale of any collection item is an essential document for every museum, historic house or other collecting organization. Paid and unpaid staff plus committee and board members need to be well-informed of your organization’s deaccession policy. This StEPs Lab addresses important points about deaccessioning including what a deaccessioning policy should cover and how to avoid getting into deep deaccession trouble.

Money Talks: How to Discuss Financial Information with Your BoardPeople often shy away from talking about finances beyond a cursory approval of the budget and financial reports until there is a crisis. Ongoing monitoring and conversations about finances are the foundation of a healthy organization. In this StEPs Lab, we discuss simple techniques you can implement to make budgets and other financial reports more understandable and accurate. We also discuss important questions board members should ask when reviewing them.

The ABCs of FICs: What to do about ‘Found in the Collection’ ItemsIn this StEPs Lab, we discuss FICs, those mysterious artifacts that show up in your collection without a signed deed of gift or other paperwork. What do you do with FICs? Do you accession and number them the same as permanent collection items? Where might you look for clues about their donor or lender? What do abandoned property laws have to do with FICs? And finally, why is it important for your organization to have its collections paperwork in order?

Building Knowledge: Documentation on Historic Sites and Landscapes: In this StEPs Lab webinar, we discuss the various reports and documents that organizations will want to compile and keep on the historic structures and landscapes they own or manage. Hear guest speaker Rachel Leibowitz, Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, discuss how to find someone to research and write Historic Structures and other reports, existing studies you may not be aware of, and the types of information that can be gleaned from these documents.

Risk Assessment: What’s Your Kryptonite? Guest speaker Donia Conn, conservator and independent consultant for small and mid-sized cultural heritage institutions, will focus on the general risks facing cultural institutions, performing a site survey, and mitigation strategies for addressing those vulnerabilities. An institution’s internal structure, policies, and procedures will be discussed. Donia will also offer sample templates for performing a risk assessment, from small to complex. This webinar is the first in a two-part series on risk management.

Risk Assessment and Management for Collections: Being prepared and identifying the potential threats to one’s organization are the best ways of reducing risks to cultural collections. In Part Two of this series, guest speaker Dyani Feige, Director of Preservation Services at the Conservation Center for Art & Historic Artifacts in Philadelphia, will focus on specific risks facing cultural institutions, both natural and man-made, and mitigation strategies for addressing those vulnerabilities. An institution’s history of incidents, location, building issues, environmental factors (temperature, relative humidity, light, and mold), pest control, fire protection, security procedures, available resources, and collections-specific hazards will all be discussed. Dyani will also offer recommendations for establishing collections salvage priorities, and address next steps such as beginning to develop a full emergency preparedness and response plan, forming and utilizing response networks, and implementing training.

Copyright Crash Course for Museums and Memory InstitutionsA basic understanding of copyright law is essential to protect your organization’s rights and those of other creators, further your organization’s mission, and avoid disputes that could harm its reputation. In this lab, museum attorney Walter G. Lehmann will provide a practical, museum-focused overview of copyright law including the important exception for fair use. Topics he will address include copyright duration, copyright orphans, fair use and the four-factor test, best practices and applying fair use, and clearing rights.

Collections Care You Can Do and What to Leave to ConservatorsMuseums hold collections in trust for the public. With that trust comes the duty of care. But with the duty of care comes the requirement that we not endanger collection items through improper care or treatment. Where, however, is the line between what we can and can’t do? In this webinar, we will address specific preventive conservation practices you can perform and those you should leave for a conservator. Here’s your chance to ask those nagging questions you have regarding good collections stewardship and preventive conservation practices.