WORK 29/3284 Time passes: for the clock face of 'Big Ben' as for the rest of us!
It’s a year today since The National Archives formally took over the sector leadership responsibilities of the former Museums, Libraries and Archives Council. It seems like a good moment to reflect on what has changed and how far we have come.
What’s happened since then? Quite a bit!
- We’ve refreshed the action plan to accompany the government policy Archives for the 21st Century, taking account of changes to the sector and renewing the deliverables to take us up to 2015.
- We’ve launched a new section of The National Archives website, to support our work with the archives sector.
- We are developing our work with partners, including building key relationships with Arts Council England, the Archives and Records Association and the Local Government Association. In these challenging times, working in partnership is more important than ever if we’re to deliver our remit.
- We’ve continued to create and deliver key initiatives. We are now well into piloting the new archive service accreditation programme after an extensive co-creation exercise with the UK archives sector.
- We’re developing our engagement approach for the public archives sector while continuing our longstanding role in support of private archives.
- We’re delivering the Record of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, bringing core organisational records to The National Archives and supporting collection of records in local areas to document this memorable experience. Continue reading »
… when it’s really just beginning! My colleague Cathy Williams brings you her final update on The Record of London 2012.
Cathy writes: My first – very first – blogpost in May posed questions about the history of the Olympic and Paralympic Games pre-London 2012 and the promised legacies post-2012, but this time I want you to think about what the questions might be in the future about London 2012. What will researchers want to know or uncover? What will they want to analyse or interrogate? What sort of data will they need and in what form?
Perhaps they’ll want to focus on the stiff and highly visible security measures implemented at all venues? Or consider the accusations of cheating levelled by the French at GB’s high-performing cyclists? (Did they really imagine our wheels could be ‘more round’ than theirs?!) or maybe question the anglocentric themes of the Olympic Opening and Closing Ceremonies? or measure the impact of the Paralympics on the way society views disability or physical impairment?
Before the Games began, they were being touted as the ‘Digital Games’, the ‘Green Games’, the ‘Legacy Games’ … but after the event, they might be better labelled as the ‘Yorkshire Games’ with a massive medal haul for the county at the Olympics? Or more seriously, as the ‘Women’s Games’?
Continue reading »
Isobel Siddons, Head of Engagement
A few months ago, my blog post focused on the work of the Private Archives Team. It seems like a good time to introduce another way that The National Archives is working in its archive sector leadership role. So I talked to Isobel Siddons, Head of Engagement, about how our work is developing in this area.
Q: What’s new and different about how The National Archives is working with the archives sector through engagement?
Isobel: The National Archives has a longstanding relationship with the sector around regulation of the keeping of public records and support for development against best practice standards. We want to maintain that, but within a context of engagement for sector development. We are taking a broader focus than preservation and access of collections, taking a step back to see archive services in context – if you like, turning the telescope round! In particular, we want to work with parent bodies of archives, what their priorities and challenges are and how archives can help; to identify local opportunities and broker partnerships; and to highlight new ways of working.
The National Archives also has a longstanding commitment to supporting services in crisis, which we need to maintain. But we also want to work with services to support innovation and positive developments. That will help us to highlight good practice, identify the ingredients for success and suggest models to follow.
So there’s a new range of relationships added to The National Archives work, and we aim to use our position as lead sector body to talk with senior managers, funding bodies, politicians and others who can open doors for archives.
As a sector, archives are well aware of the impact of the changing way we record and share information. The digital challenge is something that concerns us all. However, it may seem almost too daunting to start, particularly for those archivists working in smaller, less well-resourced archive services. Luckily, it has been a good summer for advice and guidance to help us all to tackle this challenge.
A screengrab of Manchester Archives+ flickr photostream: digital engagement is becoming a vital part of archive work across the UK
The Heritage Lottery Fund has published Thinking About Good Digital Practice, a guide to support their new policy which for the first time opens the fund to primarily digital projects. The guidance is helpful well beyond those intending to bid for Lottery funds, as it encourages effective planning and advises on how to get the best out of a project involving digital content. It outlines different options for digital projects and reminds us all of some of the key points to planning successful projects, particularly: what do you want to achieve and who is your target audience? Answers to those questions are critical if your work is to have the impact you hope and to justify the investment you are planning. Some of this advice is important for any project, digital or otherwise, but the guidance also gives a host of digital-specific information such as example costs for aspects of a digital project, good practice for file names and metadata, and some really helpful guidance about rights and permissions, issues which can seem very intimidating to newcomers to the subject. The guidance also helps to identify the staff and skills needed, the options for digital outputs, and how to keep digital outputs accessible, safe and findable in future.
Continue reading »
Undercover TeamGB supporter
My colleague Cathy Williams is making another of her guest posts about records relating to London 2012.
Cathy writes: I’m hoping that Channel 4 won’t mind my borrowing one of their Paralympic slogans as they build on the enthusiasm of the UK public for the Olympics and stir up as much passion and support for ParalympicsGB athletes as for our TeamGB competitors already at home, polishing their medals or wondering where it all went wrong!
By most accounts it all went very well and, having been lucky enough to enjoy events at several different venues, I would certainly agree: there were no hold ups at security and even arriving at and leaving the Olympic Stadium with 80,000 other spectators didn’t mean horrendous delays. Ok, so after the rehearsal for the Opening Ceremony we were funnelled uncomfortably down one of Westfield’s shopping streets for over an hour … but when the Games actually began, that didn’t seem to be a problem.
So I have loads of personal memories in my head and on my camera, loads of memorabilia and mementos including tickets and flags and sundry other branded items which I need to sort through and organise and store, if I want to keep them. But multiply those memories by the millions of global spectators and you’ve an unimaginable mountain of stuff all somehow contributing to the history of London 2012.
And that’s before you consider the official histories of agencies involved in preparing and delivering both the Olympic and Paralympic Games, and the Cultural Olympiad.
Basically, we’re looking at millions and millions of records of all types – but where are they all going? That’s exactly why we began The Record over four-and-a-half years ago … and why we continue to work to ensure that those records are not lost.
Continue reading »
The Holburne Museum, Bath
It seems appropriate for a holiday period to talk about a place I have just visited while on holiday: the lovely and recently expanded Holburne Museum in Bath. There are many reasons to enjoy the museum, but I was particularly interested after having recently heard their Director talk about the role archive documents had played in creating one of the new displays.
The core of the Holburne Museum’s collection was amassed by the private collector Sir Thomas Holburne (1793-1874). He kept this extraordinary mixture of furniture, ornaments, paintings, porcelain and much more in a Bath townhouse where he lived with his sisters. It must have been a bewilderingly rich and crowded experience to visit the Holburnes, given the size of their collections relative to the size of even a gracious townhouse! One area of the redisplay recreates just a small part of this richness, inspired by a detailed inventory of the town house. The inventory is also available in audio for museum visitors, who can listen in growing amazement, as I did, to the list of tables, chairs, knick-knacks, sideboards, fire-irons, netsuke, figurines and more which occupied just one room in the Holburnes’ house.
An open day at Northumberland Archives, Woodhorn
I wrote in my very first blog post that my job, Programme Manager for Archives Accreditation, involved getting the whole archives sector to co-create a new standard which will make accreditation a reality and support archive services across the UK to deliver good quality and sustainable services. The programme partners spent the spring and early summer gathering views and discussing everything from the scope of the scheme to detailed wording of requirements. The draft archive service accreditation standard will be published shortly.
Knebworth Cottage Home (Copyright the Childrens Society ref 1540)
I wanted to bring you a flavour of what my colleagues in the Private Archives team do, because it really underlines the breadth of our work supporting the archives sector. Today’s blog is an interview with Philip Gale, Senior Adviser – Private Archives (Private and Institutional Owners). I thought you might enjoy hearing from Philip in his own words!
Philip has a particular focus at present on supporting the institutional archives of the voluntary sector, so I started by asking:
Q What is the value of institutional archives?
Revisiting Archive Collections is available via Collections Trust
At the heart of any archive service are its collections: if we didn’t hold historical records, we wouldn’t be archive services. A huge proportion of the work of any archive service is in making collections available – whether that means by ensuring they are in good enough condition to be handled; digitising them; supporting researchers to find and read unfamiliar sources and getting them online or undertaking exhibitions and talks to reveal the potential of our fascinating holdings.
Continue reading »
I’ve turned over my blog spot this week to my colleague Cathy Williams, who brings news of an exciting launch.
Cathy writes: As much as I want you to read my first ever blogpost – and believe me, it’s been a painful process so I really would like you to – I would much rather you were off exploring our new site for The Olympic Record. It celebrates the history of the UK’s involvement with the Games and is launched today as part of The National Archives’ The Record, a four-year initiative to ensure a memory of the Olympics, the Paralympics and the Cultural Olympiad.