Assessing the needs of archives in Scotland: a case study

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Knowing the Need Conference, 1 March 2013. Presentation by Gerry Slater, Scottish Council on Archives.

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Assessing the needs of archives in Scotland: a case study

  1. 1. Gerry Slater Policy Adviser Scottish Council on Archives W: WWW.SCOTTISHARCHIVES.ORG.UK E: CONTACT@SCOTTISHARCHIVES.ORG.UK T: +44 (0)131 535 1362A: GENERAL REGISTER HOUSE 2 PRINCES STREET EDINBURGH EH1 3YY
  2. 2. SCOTTISH SCENE• National Records of Scotland (NRS)• Devolved Pattern: - 133 public bodies hold archives - Glasgow City Archives to very small - Those in private hands
  3. 3. ARCHIVAL ACCOUNT OF SCOTLAND (2000) First Gathering of Data• Some Uncomfortable Quotes: - Accommodation for archives and the archive sector can generally be described as appalling. - Public Access: services are poor and more investment required. - Preservation and Conservation: only 25% have carried out a professional survey and backlog is on the increase – more finance is needed to increase treatment capacity, creation of public sector posts and promote better preservation practice and surrogacy programmes.
  4. 4. ARCHIVAL ACCOUNT OF SCOTLAND (2000) Some Success• New builds and refurbishments, e.g., Highland Regional Archives,Scottish Borders Hub and Glasgow University Business Records Centre• Creation of the Scottish Council on Archives
  5. 5. MAJOR PLAYERS 1 National Records of Scotland• Centre of expertise• Tension between in-house and other priorities• Sharing integral to its culture• Hands-on, supportive and practical
  6. 6. MAJOR PLAYERS 2 Scottish Council on Archives• Representative (e.g., local authorities, universities, users)• Focus on building capacity in sector• Focus on gathering evidence• Focus on raising profile of archives, e.g., - National Plan for Learning and Archives - Records Management Services (ARMS) Quality Improvement Toolkit - Archives Accreditation - Economic Impact
  7. 7. PARTNERSHIP Preservation Advisory Centre (PAC)• Preservation Assessment Surveys: opportunity for PAC, NRS andCouncil on co-operation• Council funded 15 surveys• NRS gives expert support - £10,000 + opportunity costs• PAC oversees, advises and analyses
  8. 8. PRESERVATION ASSESSMENT SURVEYS Importance in Scotland• Hands-on knowledge and a feel for the range of archives in Scotland• Sense of what would make a difference ‘on the ground’• Data feeding into robust methodology• Collecting and using right information and evidence to demonstrate value andsupport preservation• Not just opinion – independent evidence
  9. 9. Archivists and conservators working and training together Thomas Thomson House (National Records of Scotland)
  10. 10. WOE, WOE, THRICE WOE PAS Category UK+Ireland (%) Scotland (%) Difference (%)Surrogates planned 15 Under 10 -5Catalogued/listed 71 63 -8On-line catalogue 36 26 -10Handling procedures 83 93 +10Environmental management 38 18 -20Fire detection/suppression 87 69 -18Unstable condition 11 17 -6
  11. 11. THE WOODEN SPOONStorage adequate for 59% of UK-Ireland items ... ...For just 9% of items inScotland.
  12. 12. WHERE FROM HERE?Scottish Council on Archives Preservation Working Group: • Professional conservators + archivists + users • PAS Report data • Focus on practical solutions - Resource constraints, especially conservation skills - identify early winners, e.g., reworked disaster plan format - build on existing co-operation, e.g., cost recovery purchases from NRS
  13. 13. Gerry Slater Policy Adviser Scottish Council on Archives W: WWW.SCOTTISHARCHIVES.ORG.UK E: CONTACT@SCOTTISHARCHIVES.ORG.UK T: +44 (0)131 535 1362A: GENERAL REGISTER HOUSE 2 PRINCES STREET EDINBURGH EH1 3YY

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