Archive Pace Setter ‘showcase’ event aimed to inspire more applicants

'Some of the most genuinely "pace-setting" ideas were the simplest'

The Archive Pace Setter Scheme is at its halfway point and there are currently 15 projects, from a wide variety of organisations,  which have gained APS status. The scheme began in 2009 and is led by the Archives and Records Association in partnership with The National Archives, Scottish Council on Archives and the Welsh Government. The aim of the scheme is to recognise excellence and innovation within the archives sector and ensure full dissemination and sharing of lessons learned.apss-logo-lg

On 16 December, on the first day of its kind, six speakers from organisations which have been awarded Archive Pace Setter status gave presentations on their work. Some in the audience were considering applying for APS status and the day allowed time for questions and discussions.

President of the ARA, Caroline Williams, welcomed everyone to the Showcase Event, spoke of her own pride in the scheme and encouraged more organisations to put their projects forward for Archive Pace Setter recognition.

Pace Setter speakerSpeakers in the photograph are (from left): Alison Cullingford from the University of Bradford; Linda Bankier of Berwick-upon-Tweed Record Office; Gill Parkes of Durham County Record Office; Sam Bartle from Archives and Local Studies Service, East Riding of Yorkshire; and  Kim Collis from West Glamorgan Archive Service. Sarah Shooter of West Yorkshire Archive Service was the sixth speaker.

Their projects could not have been more different. Sarah Shooter described the support and evolution of an impressive archive community network and an accreditation process to encourage high standards;  Gill Parkes and her team had run a short, highly targeted project to train volunteers to help make accessible the casualty and death records of the Durham mining community; Linda Bankier had literally taken the archive service to the classroom of 3 to 5 year olds and proved that there was no age limit on understanding family trees and memory;  Alison Cullingford had been inspired by the British Museum’s ‘100 objects’ project and had committed to share her University’s treasures through new technology; Kim Collis had been involved with two Archive Pace Setter projects – one in pioneering a reader’s ticket which linked registration data between participating offices  – one in geo-tagging the Archive Wales online catalogue; Sam Bartle described how he and his colleagues had established a reputable digital archive by moving from film, video and other ageing media and embedding the correct copying, storage and accessibility protocols to allow a genuine local history resource to be shared by all.

Some of the projects described were achieved with a bespoke pot of funding. Many were not.  Louise Ray, who administers the scheme, made clear what linked these disparate projects: a genuinely new idea for the archive service; the use of excellent project skills to get the job done;  the growth of personal skills and expertise; and the improvement of communication between the archive and its public.

Was the day helpful? Richard Hunt, Archivist at Peterborough Local Studies and Archives, thought so: ‘I was encouraged by the fact that for a project to be ‘Pace Setting’ it doesn’t have to be big budget and immensely complex. Some of the most inspirational and, I believe, genuinely ‘pace setting’ ideas were the simplest. All of us can take a bit of time to think about how we go about doing things. There’s nothing to be lost by experimenting a bit and trying something new’.