The Next Generation of Standards for Archives


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Presentation to the Archives for London Seminar on 'Defining the Next Generation of Standards'

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The Next Generation of Standards for Archives

  1. 1. The Way Ahead: <br />Defining the next generation of museum, archive and library standards<br />
  2. 2. ‘With investment must come further reform, building on the transformation of public services achieved in the last decade. Government and public institutions must be reformed so that they better reflect the values of the British people: fair, efficient and responsive.’<br />Gordon Brown, currently PM<br />
  3. 3. ‘Benefits of standards for Best Practice: <br />Eliminating wasteful investment of time & resource<br />Increased internal productivity<br />Increased quality of communication<br />Reduced duplication of effort<br />Improved management of risk<br />Improved accountability<br />Standardisation drives sustainable growth.’<br />British Standards Institute website<br />
  4. 4. ‘Quality means doing it right when no-one is looking’<br />Henry Ford<br />
  5. 5. Standards are a vital part of public life, they have helped museums, archives and libraries professionalise, modernise and extend their services to new audiences, both online and off.<br />
  6. 6. For museums, archives and libraries, the heyday of Standardisation was the 1990’s...<br />1990<br />1991<br />1992<br />1993<br />1994<br />1995<br />1996<br />1997<br />1998<br />
  7. 7. BS5454<br />Originally published in 1977<br />Updated in 1989<br />Revised edition in 2000<br />Now being revised again!<br />1990<br />1991<br />1992<br />1993<br />1994<br />1995<br />1996<br />1997<br />1998<br />
  8. 8. ISAD G<br />Developed by the International Council on Archives in 1994<br />Recording and exchange of descriptive information about archival material<br />1990<br />1991<br />1992<br />1993<br />1994<br />1995<br />1996<br />1997<br />1998<br />
  9. 9. SPECTRUM<br />Developed by the Information Retrieval Group of the Museums Association in 1994<br />Standardised processes for managing museum objects and recording the resulting information<br />1990<br />1991<br />1992<br />1993<br />1994<br />1995<br />1996<br />1997<br />1998<br />
  10. 10. EAD<br />Presented to the Society of American Archivists in August 1995<br />Standardised way of describing archival finding aids<br />1990<br />1991<br />1992<br />1993<br />1994<br />1995<br />1996<br />1997<br />1998<br />
  11. 11. Annual Library Plans<br />Introduced by DCMS to introduce performance management into annual reporting of public library statistics<br />Later updated into Best Value and Local Authority CPA<br />1990<br />1991<br />1992<br />1993<br />1994<br />1995<br />1996<br />1997<br />1998<br />
  12. 12. MARC21<br />Machine-Readable Cataloguing (published in 1991)<br />Standard format for recording and sharing bibliographic data<br />1990<br />1991<br />1992<br />1993<br />1994<br />1995<br />1996<br />1997<br />1998<br />
  13. 13. The rise of standards coincided with (and enabled) a rapid growth in our sector and in the demand for our services.<br />They helped us make a cogent case for new investment by providing more systematic ways of tracking the impact of our work and the social and economic return on the public investment.<br />But...<br />
  14. 14. Times change...<br />The 1990’s saw huge investment in Standardisation across industry sectors in the UK<br />The Internet first became publicly available in 1991<br />The social, demographic, political, cultural, technological and economic changes since then have been enormous.<br />
  15. 15. Both the nature of professional standards, and the way they are being applied, is changing in response the developments of the past 10 years<br />
  16. 16. 7 fundamental ways in which Standards for archives, libraries and museums are changing....<br />
  17. 17. The Environment<br />Our sector does something incredibly resource-intensive<br />Managing & retarding the natural process of decay has a significant environmental impact<br />Our scientific understanding of materials, processes & controls has improved since 2000<br />Standards such as BS5454 are being updated to reflect new methods, such as passive control, and new views on risk<br />
  18. 18. Technology<br />The rise of the Web – from HTML to XML<br />Standards for creating Digital Content (eg. MINERVA)<br />Protocols & standards for sharing content (eg. OAI)<br />Lightweight standards & frameworks (WebHooks, vCard)<br />A powerfully homogenising effect (eg. Dublin Core)<br />Machine-to-machine exchange depends on standards<br />
  19. 19. Holism/integration<br />There are very few ‘pure’ museum, archive and library services left in the world<br />Standards are tending towards portability across domains<br />A more recent generation of cross-domain standards (eg. PAS 197: A Code of Practice for Collections Management)<br />Based on the principle that the fundamental underlying processes are the same<br />
  20. 20.
  21. 21. 4. Proportionality<br />The current generation of standards is based on idealised (or normalised)models of the world and organisations<br />This means that application is often 9/10th of the law<br />Which means that no two organisations ever apply the same standard in the same way<br />Standards have to be proportionate to the operational and strategic realities of the people applying them<br />Not all types of material are the same<br />
  22. 22. Efficiency & cost-effectiveness<br />Standards cost money to implement, but the return on that investment is not expressed in terms an accountant would recognise<br />If we’re going to assert that standards lead to greater efficiency, what is the evidence of this return?<br />Standards need to be based on an understanding of economic realities & pragmatism as well as best practice<br />
  23. 23. Legal environment<br />The legislative environment changes constantly<br />Standards are partly concerned with legal/statutory compliance<br />Standards have to be refreshed constantly to keep up to date with this environment<br />Risk of recommended practice diverging from the law<br />
  24. 24. Authority<br />A new-generation, schooled in the ways of social media, expect a fundamentally different kind of conversation with their public institutions<br />Most current standards are based on a one-way model - the new standards are open and two-way<br />Much of our authority and credibility resides in the application of standards, so a more open approach can be a challenge (although less so to archivists!)<br />Open standards , developed collaboratively, are more likely to have these features<br />
  25. 25. All of this points to a new generation of smaller, light-weight open standards that are more agile. <br />It places more emphasis on professionals to use informed, strategic decision-making to select appropriate standards which fit their aims & objectives, and to collaborate in the development of their standards.<br />It also implies the increasing adoption of non-sector ‘industry’ standards across core areas of our work<br />
  26. 26. The challenge, to archivists, social historians and curators, is to establish a reasonable view on the huge increase in personal ephemeral material spread across multiple channels and platforms. <br />This is the role which the next generation of standards needs to help us address. <br />
  27. 27. Find out more at:<br /><br />
  28. 28. Thank you!<br />