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City of York Archives: how to become a civic asset.

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Presentation on theme: "City of York Archives: how to become a civic asset."— Presentation transcript:

1 City of York Archives: how to become a civic asset

2 Gradual decline Civic archives moved from Guildhall to Central Library & opened to the public in 1957. Relocated to unused wing of Art Gallery 1979/80 – collecting overdrive PRO report “condemns” premises 2000 Borthwick offers partnership 1999-2000 No consensus on way forward, campaign against change Request for alternative proposals 2003-04 Scrutiny Committee 2005 Service out to tender 2006-07

3 The First Lesson How to let fear of change lose you influence Pyrrhic victory – archives now bad news BUT Market research counters propaganda External validation gives a bigger context Don’t be frightened of costings Negatives can be turned into positives:  TNA Inspection report  Emotion shows interest, not indifference

4 Trust, or the lack of one, 2007-2013 Borthwick partnership discussions ended Former city archivist retired 2008 Transfer to a Trust seen as the last remaining option Richard Taylor seconded from NRM to carry out a study on future options 2008 Report rejects Trust, recommends restructure Report adopted Dec 2008, implementation 2009- ongoing!

5 Study Remit To identify a new governance structure for the City Archives that will unlock additional funding and greatly increase user numbers and other outputs. Information analysed using SWOT techniques guided by these principles: – No raking over the coals about past decisions and actions. – The simplest solution is the best. Elaborate solutions have no inherent value. – We must address the situation faced by the Archives today, not in the past.

6 STRENGTHS  The size, depth and continuity of the archive, and its relevance to all citizens.  The Archive offers hands-on access to history in the city centre.  The enthusiasm and passion of the staff  The current organisational structure is logical and delivers city strategies.  The Archives has an active user support base WEAKNESSES  The Archive is too small to benefit from stand-alone status.  Archives service is currently separated from the Local History Library  Current Archives building threatens the survival of the archive.  The current Archives Collecting Policy is not sustainable

7 OPPORTUNITIES  Obtaining external funding is a realistic aspiration  The Archive has potential to generate more income to seed- corn development  The Archive has real potential to increase its user numbers.  There is significant potential for partnerships with other York archives  Opportunities offered by the proposed “Cultural Quarter”  Opportunities offered by Council records management needs THREATS  External funding is not guaranteed  Local authority lending library services are not eligible for HLF funding.  Existing users have previously been hostile to change

8 Way forward Significant development potential, but no leadership, management or financial capacity to allow it to unlock that potential. The Archive is relevant to every citizen and to the city strategies of a thriving city, an inclusive city, a learning city, and a cultural city The Archive’s Unique Selling Proposition is its continuity as the record of civic life and accountability for 800 years, and this USP should be reinforced.

9 The Second Lesson Start from clean sheet if at all possible What’s the USP? Local ecology? Again - don’t be frightened of costings Quality of the collections counts Perceived weaknesses can be strengths Poor usage stats in isolation look bad – but comparators can turn these into an asset

10 Cementing the USP The objective of the department is to maintain a permanent publicly accessible record of the heritage and culture of the City of York and its people as an historical and educational resource, and as a focus for promoting civic pride, local identity, and active citizenship. We will give the highest priority to collecting a comprehensive archive documenting the decision- making processes and the most significant activities of the City of York Council and its predecessors in law.

11 Collecting policy We will collect..from individuals and organisations in both public and private sectors who have made a significant contribution to the city, its citizens or its neighbourhoods through active participation in the community, civic or business life of the city. We will represent, as far as possible, the full range of activities, cultures and viewpoints within the City of York. We will regularly review the collections in conjunction with our stakeholders to identify any gaps in their coverage and take all practicable steps to address any weak areas.

12 Advocacy tips and tricks Identify key relationships to build and ensure visible presence of you and the archive Relevance bombs Keep your research up-to-date and ask the right questions Be aware of opportunity costs Create alliances and deliver through others Self-conscious constant promotion Ask forgiveness not permission You are good news

13 13 Base: all respondents who answered the question (n= 950) Q35: Which of the following statements apply to you?

14 14 Base: all respondents who answered the question (n= 785-943) Q36: How strongly do you agree or disagree that each of the following would encourage you and / or your family to visit the City Archives?

15 The rewards


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