ARCW comments on Module 1 (part 2)
1.5 Secure occupancy of all premises containing collection
A secure and long-term future for the archival collections has been established.
The terms under which the archive service occupies the buildings or sites are long-term (at least 5 years) and sufficient to keep collection secure and enable effective forward planning.
Participants recognised the need to ensure the sustainability of services, but felt that this element was too specific in its focus – 5 years was not seen as very long (HLF requirement for 25 years?), and the setting of particular timescales needs to reflect the planning dimension of estate management.
It was suggested that this could usefully be combined with 1.6 in the context of an Objective for services to have a sound and sustainable resource-base, in terms of ongoing funding and physical assets (premises, equipment and ICT).
1.6 Demonstration of financial basis
The archive service has a sound financial basis and is fully accountable.
The archive service is able to show that it is financially stable and that it meets the relevant financial regulations or constitution. It has enough funds available to operate effectively, and collections should not be used as security for a loan.
Requirements for level 1: The archive service has a distinct budget
Requirements for level 2: The archive service has an endowment
See comments for 1.5 – it was felt that the references under levels to a ‘distinct budget’ and ‘endowment’ did not recognise the reality of how services are financed and were therefore unhelpful as a means of establishing levels.
It was seen as important that an Accredited archive can show that it is financially sustainable – rather than talking about a ‘distinct budget’ the issue here is that service managers are part of the financial decision-making process. This might be framed in terms of responsibility for identifying resource requirements and how these are to be met, the ability to input into relevant budget-setting discussions, and having a level of control over the resulting funding allocation.
1.7 Appropriate workforce
The interests of an archive service's collections and stakeholders are met by an appropriate workforce.
The archive service has an appropriate workforce, in numbers and experience, to run it effectively, including both paid and unpaid / volunteer colleagues. It has effective employment procedures and roles in place to meet its responsibilities
1.7.1 The archive service demonstrates that an appropriate workforce - commensurate with the extent, nature and intensity of use of the records held - exists to deliver the full operation of the archive service. Where the service does not employ an archive professional to meet these needs, it should demonstrate that it seeks regular advice and guidance from an archive professional or organisation.
Requirements for level 1: The archive service employs one professional archivist and has access to conservation expertise
1.7.2 Each member of the workforce needs to have a clearly articulated agreement, outlining their roles, responsibilities and expectations
1.7.3 The service needs formal induction procedures for new recruits to ensure that all members of the workforce have basic information about the archive service and understand their role in it
1.7.4 Workforce development is essential to ensure a broad base of the requisite skills and knowledge. Applicants should provide information about the development opportunities provided and planned for the workforce.
Requirements for level 1: Every member of staff attended at least one day's professional / external training in the past year.
Requirements for level 2: The service has a paid post for a pre-qualification intern.
1.7.5 Volunteers are a valuable part of the workforce and should be provided with the appropriate level of responsibility, training and development opportunities
Requirements for level 1: The archive service has a Volunteering Policy
Requirements for level 2: The service uses volunteers to work with users and not just documents
There were particular concerns here over any implication that professional staffing is not a requirement for Accreditation, and the suggestion that volunteers could be used to deliver services to users – particularly that this could be seen as a marker of excellence (level 2 of 1.7.5). This use of volunteers to provide core services is already being raised in a local authority context, and there could be significant implications for existing professional staffing and resulting service quality if this element is not framed carefully.
There was a strong consensus that professional staffing was fundamental for established public sector services, and there should be no scope for an interpretation which did not provide for this. Some participants went further and considered that to achieve Accreditation all services should be managed by a paid professional member of staff –the guidance of professional management being the only real guarantee that service quality can be improved and good practice implemented.
Associated with this there were real concerns over the capacity of the sector to support smaller bodies without professional staffing in terms of ‘regular advice and guidance’ – it was also noted that it was insufficient to say that such bodies had to ‘seek advice’, they’d also have to act on it.
Regarding the use of volunteers, it was felt that the Standard needed to allow services to adopt approaches that work for them in relation to their situation and priorities, with scope for local innovation. The roles volunteers undertake have to be appropriate to the service and to volunteer needs.
Other aspects of this element were also seen as prescribing a model for how the workforce is managed that may not be applicable in all contexts.
1.8 Clear, workable emergency plan
The archive service is able to respond to emergency or disaster situations and protect its workforce, visitors and collections.
The archive service is able to respond effectively to emergency or disaster situations. It should have an emergency plan, relating to all buildings that house collections and services. The plan should refer to:
1.8.1 arrangements for the workforce, visitors and collections
1.8.2 risk assessment of threats
1.8.3 information about how you authorise, maintain, communicate, test and provide access to plans for staff and emergency procedures
1.8.4 evidence of how the archive service works with emergency services, and of any other relevant emergency plans
1.8.5 an effective procedure for reviewing the emergency plan
While there was broad support for this as a requirement it was generally felt that this was not a governance issue, and that this element therefore belongs in the ‘Collections’ module and not in ‘Organisational Health’.
1.9 Organisational approach to environmental sustainability
The archive service minimises its impact on the environment.
The archive service is guided by a policy statement about its approach to environmental sustainability. The policy statement is appropriate to its statement purpose.
Participants in Wales questioned whether this element belonged in the Accreditation Standard at all. This was felt to be an issue for the wider organisation / parent body, which would not generally fall under the management of the archive service, and is probably already monitored at an organisational level. The Objective could also be taken as justification for limiting service activities, which is surely not the intention.
It was felt that 1.9 should be removed from the Standard.
Why the contribution is important
Full representation of views from ARCW