I’m incredibly proud and pleased today to announce the first six awards of Accredited Archive Service status in England. Archive Service Accreditation is a programme that The National Archives has been developing with seven partners – and the whole of the archives sector – for some years now. It is a UK standard which provides a development framework for archive services of all sizes and types.
Our first six awards go to six of the archive services who volunteered to help us to pilot the draft Standard in 2012-13:
- Cumbria Archives
- Exeter Cathedral Library and Archives
- Media Archive of Central England
- Network Rail Corporate Archive
- Tyne and Wear Archives
- Worcestershire Archive and Archaeology Service
This is a really varied group, from private and public sectors, large and small archives, and services which are incredibly outward looking or which primarily have a strong inward, corporate-supporting role. The group includes standalone archives, services within museum and library contexts, archives which are part of records management or wider heritage services, and an audio-visual archive with a significant commercial arm. The sheer variety encompassed in this small group is striking. It shows the variety of situations and setups across the UK archives sector, and underline why Archive Service Accreditation aims to be a flexible standard which is relevant to many different types of service delivery.
Accredited Archive Services don’t have to be perfect! They face challenges of many kinds. But our newly Accredited Services have all been negotiating these challenges successfully. Accredited Archive Services are:
- externally recognised for their good practice in all aspects of service delivery
- clear about their mission, ensuring effective planning, decision making and optimal use of resources
- sustainable and robust, ensuring the long term acquisition, preservation and accessibility of our archive heritage
- responsive to all their stakeholders and trusted in management of their unique collections
- supported by expert staff within clear and effective governance structures
- adaptive, relevant and resilient, building effective partnerships in a changing internal and external environment
The Chair of the Archive Service Accreditation Committee, Bruce Jackson, commented: ‘What these services have in common is that they have seized opportunities and made the most of their situation. In some cases, those opportunities were very large, such as a new building which allowed the service to review its whole approach to collections care and target audiences. In some cases they were experimental chances to open up to new audiences or make incremental improvements to less than perfect premises. But in all cases the opportunities were taken.’
All the Accredited Archive Services have also developed significantly since their pilot applications last year. It has been great to see Accreditation delivering on our intentions for it; that as well as a nationally-recognised award, applicant archive services also get huge benefits from undergoing a process of service review, whatever their circumstances.
Six archive services down, several hundred to go – but this has been a fantastic week to be part of Archive Service Accreditation.