You can read more in this article in The Guardian:
Following on from the story that Northamptonshire County Council planned to severely restrict opening hours at the Record Office and introduce charges to use the archives, comes the news that councillors have voted to close 28 of the county’s 36 libraries. Three options were tabled but all involved closure, none to retain the status quo. Being a rural county, many of the libraries offer a community service way beyond that of lending books and with a poor public transport system people will lose access to food banks, children’s clubs, issuing of bus passes and so much more. Petitions have been launched and the campaign to the save the libraries has high profile supporters like authors Alan Moore and Philip Pullman. Here’s hoping that that campaign is as successful in overturning the council’s decision as was the reversal of the proposed cuts to the record office following the public outcry.
You can read more in this article in The Guardian:
Completed my last teaching session at University College Dublin last week. This autumn semester I’ve been teaching the Records Management module to the students on the Masters course in Archives and Records Management whilst one of the lecturers is on maternity leave. I’m really grateful for opportunity I was given. It was a bit scary at the start but really enjoyable and it was no hardship going to Dublin every fortnight! They are a great bunch of students this academic year and I wish them the very best for their future careers.
Great to hear an old friend, Kim Collis, on ‘The Listening Project’ live from Swansea on BBC Radio 4 earlier today. In an all too brief appearance, Kim, who is the County Archivist of West Glamorgan, took part in the programme hosted by Fi Glover, which reflected on the Welsh relationship with language and literature. Kim expressed a hope that the rise of digital content will not mean the loss of personal contact in archives and libraries and emphasised the joy of serendipity in making chance finds when looking through the archives themselves and not relying on a search engine.
‘The Listening Project’ is ‘capturing the nation in conversation’ and is an ambitious oral history project to gather a picture of life in contemporary Britain in which individuals volunteer to have a conversation with someone close to them about something they’ve never discussed before. It is a partnership between BBC Radio 4, BBC local stations and the British Library.
Interesting piece on BBC radio 4’s “Today” programme this morning that a “lost” story by Beatrix Potter – “The Tale of Kitty in Boots” – has been uncovered and will be published later this year. The presenter referred to the find as being in a dusty archive but the researcher, Jo Hanks, swiftly replied that the V&A [Victoria & Albert Museum] look after their archives!
Then, only about 30 minutes later, there was another piece referring to archives! One of the latest files to be released by The National Archives (TNA) is about an MP’s proposal to Churchill that the UK should introduce a McCarthy style search to root out communists in the BBC which, thankfully, did not happen.
Delighted to attend the launch of Margaret Crockett’s new book, “The No-nonsense Guide to Archives and Recordkeeping” at the British Library last night and to have the opportunity to catch up with old friends and colleagues after entertaining short talks from David Leitch (Secretary-General, International Council on Archives), Alison North (Director, AN Ltd), and Iain Brown (IT Security Consultant). David gave an entertaining overview of the international archive and records management scene, whilst Alison’s talk was all about information governance and how the use of that phrase is far more ‘sexy’ than records management but, nevertheless, the route to ensuring that better RM is in place! Iain followed up with an interesting and amusing account of current challenges such as cyber theft, which tied in much of what the previous two speakers had said.
The book is a practical guide for those just starting out in the profession or who have no formal training and is based on the excellent training days run by Margaret and her business partner Janet Foster as The Archive-Skills Consultancy Ltd. More details on Margaret’s book here – http://www.facetpublishing.co.uk/title.php?id=048552#.VqddsyqLTIU
Whilst on the subject of new books, another friend, James Earlby, has brought out an e-book about corporate governance in the football world, which is based on his Master’s dissertation in Corporate Governance. And, as we all know, good recordkeeping has its part to play in corporate governance! For more on James’ book – http://www.amazon.co.uk/Corporate-Governance-Performance-Scottish-Football-ebook/dp/B01AC1H98M/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1452586610&sr=8-1&keywords=corporate+governance+and+firm+performance+in+english+and+scottish+football
Autumn seems to be the preferred season for self promotion and advocacy in the information world. Maybe because everyone is back at work after their summer break…? First off the starting blocks was the Society of American Archivists’ “#AskAnArchivist Day” on 1 October to launch American Archives Month. Archivists around the States took to Twitter to answer questions posted with the hashtag #AskAnArchivist, which the SAA hoped would help break down some of the barriers which might make archivists seem inaccessible. I’ve yet to see a full critique but the feedback looks like it was very effective.
6 November saw AIIM’s annual event “World Paper Free Day”, which asks everyone to pledge to reduce the amount of paper we generate in our everyday working and personal lives. Every little helps, as the well-known advertising saying goes!
This week sees the Archive & Record Association’s annual “Explore Your Archive” campaign with events, talks, exhibitions, creative workshops and activities for children taking place in archives all over the UK to raise awareness of archives. Let’s hope it’s as successful as last year.
It was great to hear that the Boots Archive has been successful in obtaining funding from the Wellcome Trust to make the archive more accessible to academic researchers, including digitisation of much of its content. A Wellcome-Boots Advisory Board, comprising representatives from Boots, including the archivist, Sophie Clapp, and from the Wellcome, as well as academics from Warwick Business School, will recommend how best the archive can be opened up and suggest potential research themes across disciplines. Following on from the ICA conference in Milan, this is a great way of demonstrating how the archive can provide a good return on investment.
Just back from the International Council on Archives’ Section for Business Archives annual conference in Milan, which comprised two days of interesting and thought-provoking papers under the above heading. I chaired session on ‘Innovative models of management for business archives’ and gave an introductory overview to the topic before the three speakers presented case studies of their own particular model. Other topics included inter alia the role of advocacy, both internally and externally, and the issues in managing multimedia collections and of finding the right people for the job.
The spectacular venue was Pirelli’s headquarters, the auditorium being within a former cooling tower, which had been re-purposed and surrounded by a glass box. The site is also home to a 15th century villa in traditional Lombardic style with amazing frescoes, where we were privileged to have our conference dinner (accompanied by a tremendous thunderstorm!) and the Pirelli archive, which houses an incredible array of advertising. They even have their own Pirelli monogrammed boxes and researchers’ gloves! We were also given a demonstration of the tyre testing within a soundproof room in the R&D building. The day before the conference we were able to visit to the Gallerie d’Italia, opposite La Scala opera house, which holds the art collections of the Banca Intesa Sanpaolo, our hosts, and on the last evening we visited the Galleria Campari which, again, has an incredible display of advertising and promotional material.
The humidity and thunderstorms aside, it was an excellent conference and the SBA continues to go from strength to strength. Next year’s conference will be in Atlanta, hosted by Coca-Cola and 2017 will see the SBA in India for the first time, in Mumbai – can’t wait!
9th June marks International Archives Day, which was first launched by the International Council on Archives (ICA) in 2007 under the auspices of UNESCO, to raise awareness of archives and their valuable role in all our lives, and to bring to the public’s attention “unique, extraordinary and rare documents”. So I want to flag up a great blog I found recently about mediaeval manuscripts by a guy called Eric Kwakkel – http://medievalbooks.nl/. The themes might seem academic but the posts are written in an accessible way and cover some fascinating topics, such as the purpose of margins in mediaeval manuscripts and volumes, how books were stored, how much the mediaeval booklover might have paid for his manuscripts and the equivalent of texting in the Middle Ages. My favourite, although it is a sad tale, concerns the tiny strips of 15th century paper in the archive of the mediaeval Holy Spirit orphanage in the Dutch city of Leiden. Each strip bears a name and two pin holes, because they were the name tags fastened to the clothing of the foundlings entering the orphanage. A contemporary booklet provides background on some of the orphans and their heartbreaking stories.
Archivists and librarians across the globe are facing a mounting emergency in their efforts to preserve digital data. They are accepting deposits of electronic archives which may already be on the brink of technological obsolescence or, indeed, already have unreadable digital material within their collections, and the problem is growing exponentially. Unlike paper, digital degradation does not follow a steady curve. Even the best IT experts do not know the degradation paths of some formats.
Harvard has adopted a new process to preserve its digital content. Using digital forensics, which was developed to create authentic, unimpeachable data suitable for use as evidence in criminal trials, the archivists retrieve data from obsolete formats using three components: the hardware, the software, and the technician. The first step is imaging which creates a copy of the source medium and replicates the structure and contents independent of the file system. Once the content has been taken from the carrier it can be processed. Then a decision is taken about access, which will be by migration or emulation. Even when the content is retrieved the original media may be retained as advancements are starting to allow the retrieval of content on formats that were previously written off. The archivists are agreed, however, that the problem of obsolescence will not disappear as technology continues to race ahead.
My thoughts, views and musings about what's happening in the world of archives and records management, information and heritage