It is six months since I last blogged about my own major project, the new Accreditation Programme for Archive Services. Then, I was introducing the pilot we were about to launch and describing what we hoped would come out of that process. Today, I can reflect on what we have learned from the pilot.
I listed three main aims for the pilot:
- Working out the kinks
- Getting the guidance as good as it can be
- Making sure that one size fits all
We recruited 20 different archive services from England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to achieve this. They represent a huge range of service types, from national institutions – The National Archives itself led the way as a pilot – to very small, privately-run archives who nonetheless can provide a public service to interested parties.
We worked with business archives, who often have serving internal users as a priority; archives in museums, where we needed to review how this new programme works with the existing scheme for museum accreditation; and we were very pleased to have a volunteer from the audio-visual archives sector who tested how the principles of archive service accreditation would work with their different media. So we gave ‘one size fits all’ a good workout.
What we heard back
Of the 20 services who began the pilot, all 20 were able to make a return, despite having to work to a tight timescale of just three months to help us launch the programme on schedule. That gives us real assurance that the process is not too burdensome. We recommend that once the scheme is live, archive services make it part of their long term planning and development, rather than setting an artificially short deadline like this.