Cultural commissioning seminar

I’ve been experimenting with Storify recently to help me quickly capture an experience or a journey – partly as a reflective tool, partly to process what I’ve seen/heard/learnt/experienced.

Here’s the report of my attendance at the Cultural Commissioning seminar this week:


ARA conference 2012

Alas, I couldn’t attend this year’s Archives & Records Association conference in Brighton.  But I followed much of the programme on twitter (hashtag #ara12) – and hugely appreciate all those who took the trouble to live tweet the conference.

One thing that really struck was the plethora of comments on the final day about the need for “thinking time” – otherwise known as reflection.  And the need for recordkeepers (ok, most tweeters called them “archivists” but…) to be flexible, dynamic, develop their skills in a wide range of areas and so on.

A manifesto for continuing professional development among individuals if ever I heard one… hoping that the proposals for association-wide CPD around and beyond Registration bear fruit.

National Occupational Standards review

During October 2010 the UK sector skills council Lifelong Learning UK will be undertaking a revision of the Information and Library Services, Archives Services and Records Management National Occupational Standards (NOS).  The NOS can be used by individuals to plan their continuing professional development, for volunteer development, by HR departments and managers for the design of recruitment and selection procedures including constructing job descriptions, through to the planning and undertaking of organisational change eg. restructures.
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The thief of time?

“We can multi-task” said my husband and his father cheerfully.  “There are two of us”.

I’ve been doing some work recently on productivity and time management, bouncing some ideas around with miss dragonara about supporting colleagues in this area in a more practical/implementable way than some of the time management type of courses seem to achieve.  I’ve also been doing some one-to-one work with colleagues with over-full email inboxes (4,357 items was the record in the inbox alone).  This has all tied in with the 25 Things background of sources of information and things to do, as well as the work I’ve been doing on the JISC impact calculator and thinking about the effects of change management initiatives in this kind of area.

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Skills gaps in the archives & records management workforce

Recently the sector skills council Lifelong Learning UK (LLUK) published a UK wide report assessing skills needs for its “footprint”.  LLUK covers people working is career guidance, community learning & development, further education, higher education, work based learning – and libraries, archives and information services (including records management).

The report is available here, but there were some particular headlines in the skills gaps for archives and records management that I wanted to highlight:

  • use of ICT including web 2.0 to support “learners” (ie service users)
  • ICT/web 2.0 for information management
  • marketing allied to accessible – particularly for free services
  • evaluation and assessment of impact and use evidence to “advocate the value of the service in order to procure resources, develop partnerships and position the service within the wider organisation”
  • developing service level agreements/specifications and managing contracts – in the context of strategic commissioning/outsourcing
  • “practical skills” including stock management, budgeting, customer service
  • Freedom of Information and Data Protection [and the Environmental Information Regulations] and the impact on the release of information.

The report also identifies barriers to skills development at both the individual and organisational level and makes some fairly generic high-level recommendations for the work of LLUK itself.

This list certainly chimes with me, given the wide range of registration portfolios I have seen from fairly recently qualified professionals in archives and records management over the last 5 years, my experience as a manager and as an employee, and my short experience to date as an educator.

What I’m less happy about is how the gaps can be bridged in practical ways and the workforce supported, given the lack of resources (both time and money) for training and development, the need to recognise T & D needs both on the part of the individual AND the organisation, the rapid change and diversification of roles, demographics, and the pace of change.  Suggestions?


I’ve been doing some work recently on reflection/reflective practice and mentoring for the International Council on Archives’ journal Comma.

The forthcoming issue will focus on Developing the 21st century archivist – the theme of last November’s CITRA (see earlier blog posts).

In keeping with this theme, and my preference for practical tools, thanks to miss dragonara for the link to some really useful templates for reflective journals available from  Readers interested in continuing professional development might like to play with these too – interested to hear your thoughts.

Recordkeeping people in 2010

It’s really encouraging to see the Society of Archivists’ Chair, Katy Goodrum, believes so strongly in using the common ground between the branches of the recordkeeping professions.  In last month’s ARC, Katy said

We do spend too much time citing differences and that gets in the way of the goal of any records manager, archivist or conservator which is the better management, preservation of and access to the records and information of our employing organisation.

Katy recognises the progress made in continuing professional development but is also keen to make more of the benefits of CPD.  She’s also keen to widen recruitment to the profession.  I’m looking forward to working with her on some of this and pleased that the SoA, National Council on Archives and Association of Chief Archivists in Local Government have signed a memorandum of understanding to explore the creation of the new merged body for the sector.

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