In what promises, to be a major revamp on access to Archives and their records and organising the sector to cope with the 21st century has been published by the National Archives. This is not the first attempt to plan changes, as the title 'Refreshed' implies.
The policy has five recommendations:
Develop bigger and better services in partnership - working towards increased sustainability within the sector.
Strengthened leadership and a responsive, skilled workforce.
Coordinated response to the growing challenges of managing digital information so that it is accessible now and remains discoverable in the future.
Comprehensive online access for archive discovery through catalogues and to digitised archive content.
Active participation in cultural and learning partnerships promoting a sense of identity and place within the community.
But what is meant by the 5 recommendations and how will this revamp be any different to previous plans?
The University College of London is carrying out a research project to investigate the current funding of the UK archives sector. Funding the Archives The project aims were to investigate:
How archives in the UK are funded; what funding resources are underdeveloped within the sector and what advice and training support can be delivered by The National Archives to improve access to funding resources.
The project advisory group included representatives from The National Archives, University College London, CyMAL: Museums, Archives and Libraries Wales (a division of the Welsh Assembly Government), and the Archives & Records Association.
Opportunities for the sector to come together and exploit economies of scale for digitisation and licensing with the commercial sector are also being looked at . This approach is being piloted, bringing together over 100 services to digitise school registers dating from before 1914.
Following an invitation to express interest and supplier days which took place at Manchester Archives and Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre in June 2011, bids were considered and contract negotiations are now proceeding. Digitisation Consortium
Future national series which might be explored include:
Wills; Quarter sessions; Petty sessions; Poor Law records; School records; 1910 valuation records and Parish registers.
The National Archives are sharing their expertise in archiving government websites to pilot a web archiving model to preserve important local online information for future generations. The pilot encourages local archive services to create web archives, providing a digital history of their communities. Seven local authority archive services, representing 20 local authorities, are participating, together with a wider focus group from the archives sector. Web Archiving
It looks as if one of the big proposals is to increase the involvement of commercial companies which means more records on pay per view sites, which could be a plus. However, how will this affect Family and Local History Societies and others who have been involved in indexing/transcribing/recording and filming such records for many decades? Will the contracts restrict the ability of Societies to carry on this work? Should there be more involvement of the voluntary sector in these plans?