Thursday, 12 February 2009

Archives and the economy

An email on the NRA listserve from the National Council of Archives pointed me to this extract available from Hansard about the future of the Minton Archive of the Royal Doulton Ltd company.

As Lord Redesdale says in the extract this is not the first business archive that will have to be bought following the collapse of its parent company and it does make you wonder what will happen to these collections should other companies fall victim to the economic problems.

The debate mentions that the archive has been valued and will be marketed by Bonhams and the Lords are rightly concerned about the possibility of keeping the archive in the local area when the administrators must focus on getting the best price for it.

Is there anything that Archivists can do to help preserve business heritage and records? A draft
National Strategy for Business Archives (England & Wales) was released in January this year and one of its recommendations at an individual level is for Archivists to work hard at developing networks of expertise and shared experience to help improve the handling of business records.

Is there a role for Web 2.0 to help foster communication and networks amongst professionals? Are the listserves and society meetings enough? I've certainly found that when searching for information about practical archive issues such as how to construct a catalogue, the best boxes to buy, procedures for handling accessions there is very little available information out there being shared. This probably leads to a lot of reinvention of the wheel by individuals and if you are working alone you're probably never quite sure if you're doing it right. I'd like to see a central resource of practical tips and templates, the SOA site does this to a certain extent but its hard to find what you are looking for and often the material is restricted to members only.

The draft strategy doesn't explicitly mention use of Web 2.0 tools as being part of the solution but I think they could help.


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