From our Online Community

With so much change taking place just now, we recognise that there is a lot of information to stay abreast of.  Our ARA Together Online Community on Discord is generating some fantastic input from members and the wider sector so we thought it would be valuable to share some of the information and ideas posted across each of our chat channels.

The content below was shared by the community within the Discord channels.  The ARA is not responsible for any of the content in these links.

Keeping connected

Freelancing in archives and record-keeping

  • The Museum Freelance survey of freelancers (including archivists and archive consultants) records that 78% of respondents have seen a drop in income March - October 2020 compared to the same period in 2019 as a result of Covid-19.  The full survey results can be found here.
  • Share Museums East has produced a guide to support museums in finding, appointing, briefing and working with freelancers and consultants, to help them to get the best out of the relationship. The guide can be found here.
  • The ARA’s Pay Review Group has produced guidance for archives, records management and conservation freelancers. The guidance can be found here.

The Greater Manchester Archivists Group: a Facebook group aimed at anyone working in archives in Greater Manchester.

Volunteer Makers is a community of volunteers and organisations coming together to bring the best out of each other and make the extraordinary happen - As an example, Volunteer Makers allows you to post volunteer 'challenges' so people can see what you need doing. Here is an example from Suffolk Archives:

MicroPasts is all about crowd-fuelled and crowd-sourced archaeological data. The site aims to find individuals to assist existing research projects with tasks that need human intelligence, such as the accurate location of artefact findspots or photographed scenes, the identification of subject matter in historic archives, the masking of photos meant for 3D modelling, or the transcription of letters and catalogues. Other tasks might require on-location contributions by members of the public, such as submitting photographs of particular archaeological sites or objects.

Futurelearn offers a free course on collaborative working in remote teams.

Bath Record Office has created a ‘Corona Captured’ page of its website, which allows the public to upload digital content.

The Museum of the Home is collecting data about how our home lives are changing during the coronavirus pandemic as part of its Documenting Homes archive.

Career Resilience

The ARA has launched a new series of webinars to support members with their professional development. This includes webinars tailored for those seeking professional registration at the Foundation, Registered or Fellow level. For more information visit

The University of Leeds is running a free online course entitled ‘Essential Skills for Your Career Development’. Course participants will learn about the professional career development tools to get their career on track. The course runs over two weeks and requires two hours of study each week.

The University of Surrey is offering a free online training course entitled ‘Communicating with Diverse Audiences’. The course runs over four weeks and requires three hours of study each week.

The Digital Preservation Coalition (DPC) is offers a free online ‘Novice to Know-How: Online Digital Preservation’ training course. Part of The National Archives’ new digital capacity building strategy, ‘Plugged In, Powered Up,’ the Novice to Know-How learning pathway aims to provide beginners with the skills required to develop and implement simple digital preservation workflows within their organisation. Slots for the August-October courses are now available for booking.

The (UK) National Archives (TNA) has made DROID 6.5 available to download from its website. DROID is a software tool which performs automated batch identification of file formats. Developed by TNA’s Digital Preservation department as part of its broader digital preservation activities, DROID is designed to meet the fundamental requirement of any digital repository to be able to identify the precise format of all stored digital objects, and to link that identification to a central registry of technical information about that format and its dependencies.

More details about the latest release can be found at!topic/droid-list/SqE5W4f0F_o

The Society of American Archivists has launched a free course on Cultural Diversity Competency for our sector.  In this workshop you’ll be challenged to examine personal perceptions that might surprise you and you’ll be introduced to strategies that will increase your ability to practice inclusion. This webcast provides the four skills to employ CDC and the five stages individuals and organisations can implement to improve relations with internal and external communities.

The International Council on Archives has developed a statement entitled ‘COVID-19: The duty to document does not cease in a crisis, it becomes more essential’. The statement is built on three principles: Decisions must be documented, records and data should be secured and preserved in all sectors, and the security, preservation, and access to digital content should be facilitated during the shutdown.

Historic Environment Scotland conducted a comms campaign over May 2020 for users to 'find unidentified images' (, which resulted in two months of HES’ highest ever online traffic. HES has also seen an uptake in users exploring its websites more deeply, as well as new users. Further, as heritage sites have been closed, HES has turned to its digital archive to promote our properties.

Thinking outside the box

History Begins at Home is a campaign which aims to ignite conversations about the past thus supporting wellbeing and connection during these current strange times and beyond. Different themes are being explored and support from everyone would be welcomed. Visit the campaign’s website or follow the campaign on Facebook or Twitter.

The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) has issued guidance on creating accessible social media for blind and partially sighted people.

The Sporting Memories Foundation uses sporting memories and physical activity to tackle loneliness, low mood and dementia.

COVID-19 Resources

There are some really interesting projects which focus on capturing and archiving the COVID-19 crisis including:

The Scottish Council on Archives has pulled together a list of some excellent COVID-19 collecting projects across Scotland and further afield:

Returning to work

The (UK) National Archives (TNA) hosted a webinar about its re-opening. While each archive service must be guided by the specifics of their own location, size and shared facilities, TNA recognised the sector’s interest in knowing more about its own plans to re-open the service at Kew. The webinar provided archivists and others responsible for devising local re-opening plans with an opportunity to learn more about TNA’s thought processes. The webinar included a series of 10-minute presentations relating to operations, document services and conservation at TNA. This was then followed by a presentation by Jo Terry from Staffordshire County Council and a Q&A session. The webinar is now available to watch here

Reopening Archives, Libraries, and Museums ‘REALM’ is a US-based COVID-19 research project looking at the handling of material when services reopen and testing how long the virus is still active on collection material

Reopening Archives, Libraries, and Museums ‘REALM’ has recently published its systematic literature review. The review focused on studies of virus attenuation on commonly found materials, such as paper, plastic, cloth, and metal; methods of virus transmission; and effectiveness of prevention and decontamination measures.

The International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) has produced a document which summarises different responses internationally to the question of how long to quarantine books. See the section on 'Handling Materials'. Eg in France it's 72 hours for paper but 10 days for plastic-coated materials.

The Library of Congress (LOC) has published research into the impact of hand sanitisers on collection materials.

WHICH has published general information on the use of hand sanitisers:

The National Library of Australia has published a list of FAQs about the reopening of Australia’s libraries:


PROJECT READY is a US-based website which hosts a series of free, online professional development modules for school and public youth services librarians, library administrators, and others interested in improving their knowledge about race and racism, racial equity, and culturally sustaining pedagogy. The primary focus of the Project READY curriculum is on improving relationships with, services to, and resources for youth of colour and Native youth.

The Institute of Conservation (ICON) recently published a personal reflection from Paper conservator Ashleigh Brown entitled ‘Being Black in the arts and heritage sector’

Intersectional Glam (Galleries, Libraries Archives and Museums sector) offers guidance on respectful descriptions of marginalised groups.

The Society of American Archivists has produced a podcast entitled 'Archives in Context' by Dominique Luster on her experiences of cleaning up "dirty data" in a photographic collection that documents African American life in 20th century Pittsburgh.

"Toward Culturally Competent Archival (Re)Description of Marginalized Histories" was presented at Archives Records 2018, the Society of American Archivists conference.  It presents useful ideas and points, gives examples of thoughtful descriptive practice (the digital transgender archive being one of them) and also includes a reading list.

Royal Museums Greenwich has published a guide to help identify Black and Asian Sailors in RMG Collections:

Alicia Garza, one of the founders of Black Lives Matter, writes about why the campaign was founded and why the slogan is used.

Dismantling White Supremacy in Archives: An Incomplete List of White Privileges in Archives and Action Items for Dismantling Them* This document was produced by an archives class at UCLA. It contains some practical things that people working in archives can do to address white privilege:

The Black Curriculum is a social enterprise founded in 2019 by young people to address the lack of Black British history in the UK Curriculum. It believes that by delivering arts-focused Black history programmes, providing teacher training and campaigning through mobilising young people, it can facilitate social change.  Its programmes are for all young people aged 8-16 and aim to equip young people with a sense of identity, and the tools for a diverse landscape. The Black Curriculum is working towards changing the national curriculum and building a sense of identity in every young person in the UK.

Young Historians Project is an organisation formed by young people encouraging the development of young historians of African and Caribbean heritage in Britain.

Culture& and Create Jobs are working together to deliver work-based, nationally accredited training in cultural heritage focused on known skills gaps within the heritage sector.