I am really pleased to be presenting a paper at the ARA conference this year, on August 30th in the morning, alongside my colleague Chris Woods, who is also presenting. This will focus more specifically on NCS’s work, and we also plan to have a conference stand to advertise the full range of NCS services. Chris will be talking about the recent publication of the new standards, BS EN 16893 and BS 4971 (see other entry in “Recent News”), whilst my paper is titled “Curatorial Responsibility – is this a reality?” In particular, the paper wishes to ask the question “What is curatorial responsibility?” and how does this impact on the decisions that are made for the long-term preservation of archival collections? If the answer is primarily to ensure the survival of the collections, then is it acceptable to outsource our collection care?
The paper will look at the current economic climate and its direct impacts on institutions with responsibility for collections care – how does this evolving (and potentially worsening) situation change or determine different approaches?
Work Programme 2017
- Contribute to the ICA Africa Strategy; the EGABE has assisted with a survey of African repositories
- Continue to interrogate the survey data and use this information to develop our programme of work over the next few years
- Update and improve our presence on the ICA website
- Complete the ICA bibliography on archival buildings
- Attend the ICA Annual Conference in Mexico City (25-29th November 2017)
- Present a formal paper on the use of standards for archive buildings
- Present a workshop on archival buildings
- Organise a visit to the National Archives
The new expert Group presents an opportunity to embed the issue of buildings and the management of the storage environment into ICA programmes and so raise the profile of the new group amongst ICA members.
My main news is that my practice has taken a very specific step over the latter part of 2015 and into early 2016. I am very pleased to be additionally employed by the National Conservation Service. I now work 3 days per week as NCS's Lead Conservation Advisor, and this new challenge requires me to work with NCS's steadily growing membership of archives, libraries and museums. I will also be working to promote NCS's conservation services and to assist those who wish to join the NCS Collaborative Storage Scheme, operated in partnership with Restore at the Upper Heyford aerodrome site. I am excited to be working alongside my colleague Chris Woods to grow the NCS membership and develop a strong network of support for institutions across the UK.
Grenada 13th - 17th February, 2017
I was very fortunate to be included in the consultancy team to undertake an Advocacy Mission funded by the ICA, and managed by CARBICA, to the Caribbean island of Grenada. The project brought together a group of experts from the Caribbean region, two from the UK and one from the USA, to organise a series of workshops for Grenadan specialists in information management, archives and libraries. The main focus of the workshops was on archives at risk, and so a number of the presentations focused on disaster planning and response. This was particularly resonant for the participants, as most had suffered the catastrophic damage of Hurricane Ivan in September 2004. In addition, I was also tasked with leading a specialist group to visit and survey five facilities in the capital, St. George’s, during two days of the project. This was difficult and hot work, and managing a large group of people in an unfamiliar space, trying to communicate the emphases that I have learnt with experience was quite a challenge. I was also taken to view the site for a new conversion (to an existing building) for a proposed National Archives, and was asked to provide comments on their plans. This was very exciting and showed how much these missions can galvanise governments in to action. In addition, we are compiling a detailed report across the range of areas covered to guide and assist the government of Grenada.
In addition to my new role at NCS, Chris and I are also working on two specific updates of important preservation standards. The first is the developing new European standard BS/EN 16893, that will replace the current PD 5454: 2012. This new standard is titled “Conservation of Cultural Heritage - New Sites & Buildings Intended for the Storage & Use of Collections". It is expected to publish in the autumn of 2017.
In addition, work is almost complete on a review of the BS 4971: 2002 "Repair and allied processes for the conservation of documents". This will additionally be published by the autumn of 2017 and will be titled “Conservation and Care of Archival Collections”. This new standard will now more effectively focus on collection care issues and will include detailed information on environmental parameters for archival and library materials.
This year was my final session as Chair of the ARA Conservation Certificate Assessments. The most recent assessments were held at the Flintshire Record Office in Hawarden, in North Wales. and I spent a very nice evening with colleague at the Gladstone Library! I have really enjoyed the last 5 years managing the process on the day, have worked alongside a wide range of experts and professionals, and have had the additional pleasure of assessing some very talented and capable young conservators, who collectively present great potential for the future of the profession. It has been a good experience but it is time to move on and handover!
In November, I presented my 6th training day on writing preservation policies for the British Library and West Dean lecture programme. This has been a really interesting experience. I have enjoyed discussing and debating a wide range of preservation issues with attendees from across UK institutions and even some from Europe! However, even though the feedback has been very positive, I have decided that future commitments will not enable me to make the time for this training and so (regrettably) this was my last one (for now!)
Seoul, South Korea, 5th - 10th September, 2016
As a result of my attendance at this important Congress, I wanted to write up the workshop that we gave on archival buildings, but also, and most especially, the amazing tour we received of the Seoul branch of the National Archives of South Korea. This was a fascinating trip, a wonderful county with such kind and friendly people. The standard of archival buildings and the resources for collections care and conservation were very impressive and made many of the delegates very envious!
See my report here: ICA report
Trieste, Italy, October 15th - 18th 2017
I now attend the annual conference of the International Institute of Archival Science as the representative of the International Council on Archives. This year I will hope to present a paper on “Teaching preservation to student archivists at University College London”. The paper will outline the development of the teaching of preservation to Masters students on the University of College London, Masters in Archives & Records Management qualification. It will consider the approaches that have been taken to ensure that the students connect with this theoretical aspect of their learning and will investigate the increased challenges of promoting preservation in a changing professional environment.
This conference was a really interesting first step in the promotion of the new Expert Group on Archive Buildings & Environments. As the Chair it was very important for me to network and to continue to raise our profile; I did this by presenting a paper on the first stage data resulting from the survey of members, attending meetings (especially those for the new ICA Africa Strategy in which the group has an important role - buildings and preservation are not affected by borders or languages!) and volunteering on the ICA stand, which was a really good way of meeting people! I also tried to build interest in the group and to get ideas and input for the update of the ICA bibliography on buildings that we are undertaking. The high point was getting a name mention in the closing keynote from the United Nations Assistant Secretary who had attended my talk! A busy conference, and we now have our eyes set on keeping a high profile at the 2016 conference in Seoul, Korea.