In its collection acquisition and management policies, TARL is guided by 36 CFR Part 79, Curation of Federally Owned and Administered Archeological Collections, and TARL adheres to the Council of Texas Archeologists' (1985) Guidelines for Curation Standards and Procedures. The basic position on which these standards and procedures are based is indicated by the following quotation from the introduction in the Guidelines for Curation Standards and Procedures:
Archeological sites are by nature unique, destructible, and nonrenewable resources. The mode of investigation often results in the partial or total destruction of archeological sites. Once investigation has been completed, the only archeological remains of a site or portions thereof may be those artifacts or records produced by the investigation. They become the data base, both present and future. Accordingly, the careful documentation, cleaning, labeling, inventorying, use, and permanent disposition of the records and collections should be of utmost concern and consideration to all members of the archeological community [CTA 1985: Curation-1].
New acquisitions are welcomed provided that they are useful for scientific studies and are from Texas or are otherwise deemed relevant to the Texas collections. Although most new collections are the result of cultural resource management projects, donations from avocational archeologists are accepted if they conform to specified standards. New collections must: (1) be systematic, (2) be accompanied by all recovery records, and (3) be transferred permanently to TARL, except in cases where permanent custody is not allowed by state or federal law. A one-time accession fee is charged to contract-funded projects. TARL does not charge an accession fee for private donations or any funded project where such fees traditionally are not accepted as an integral part of the project budget.
TARL accepts for curation only those newly generated documentary records of sites and collections that are on archival-quality materials. This policy applies not only to materials generated by contract projects and by TARL's own projects, but, whenever possible, to newly generated documentation assembled by avocational archeologists. This requirement is often waived for older collections submitted for curation to TARL, in particular those being donated by avocational archeologists. TARL recognizes its archival conservation needs in the curation of the site and collection records and, when possible, takes steps to improve their condition.