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 2018
- Analyse the date gathered from the 2017 survey of African repositories; ICA Africa Strategy
- Update and improve our presence on the ICA website
- Complete the ICA bibliography on archival buildings
- Attend the ICA Annual Conference in Yaounde, Cameroon (24th - 26th , November 2018)
- Present a paper at the main session of the conference and a specialist workshop covering three main areas:
- Sustainability & renewables - to be a review of "green" solutions and their applicability for archives – how might this work in Africa?
- Specifying archival buildings - with the emphasis on the Africa recent ICA buildings survey
- Archival packaging - what is its role and how does it support preservation?
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.
The first is the new European standard, BS/EN 16893, that has now replaced the old PD 5454: 2012. This new standard is titled “Conservation of Cultural Heritage - New Sites & Buildings Intended for the Storage & Use of Collections". It s key defining feature is to spell out the end of our raditional over-reliance on Mechanical plant to manage environmental conditions, and encourages (nay, demands!) a much more ustainable approach.
Ten second document published in July 2017, is BS 4971: 2002, "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. The previous document PAS 198, "Specification for managing environmental conditions for cultural collections" is now withdrawn.
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!
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.
I am delighted, and very honoured, to be named as a Fellow of the International Council on Archives. The ICA Fellowship is the highest honour that the organisation can bestow on a member of the international archives’ community, and I join a very august list of other Fellows.
This is particularly important to me, and I hope the profession of conservation, as I am the only Conservator on the list. I guess this is some kind of achievement!
This was a double award evening as I also received a "Certificate of Recognition" for my work as chairperson of the ICA Expert Group on Archive Buildings and Environments - I stand down in January 2019
Mexico City, Mexico, 27th - 28th November, 2017
Following on from the successful workshop at the Seoul conference in 2016, I decided to repeat the format, and again, this was a great success! In addition, I also decided to write up the workshop that we gave on archival buildings, and the amazing tour we received of the Mexico national Archives, in Mexico City. This was such a great trip, a fascinating 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!EGABE Mexico workshop report
In addition, I was also asked by the Mexico City branch of UNESCO to join some other experts to visit the recently damaged (by earthquakes) city of Puebla, about 2 hours drive from Mexico City. I joined a small team from Mexico, Japan and the USA to carry out a visit to the Biblioteca Palafoxiana, a historic library and monument in this beautiful city. We spent the day assessing book collections that had been damaged by the earthquake on September 19 th (2017), but all the buildings, including the library, had been swiftly repaired and restored by the Mexican Government – you would not have known it had happened! However, this was a long and challenging day and it really tested out my powers of diagnosis!