From the Sector
Here you will find links to useful guidance and information produced by organisations across the heritage sector in response to the current COVID-19 lockdown, as well as details of some of the funding and financial support available for those affected by the pandemic.
The UK National Archives’ guidance on planning short-term changes to services
The pandemic response has required archive services to manage their operations with different levels of access at different times. This business continuity checklist from The UK National Archives is designed to support services at a point when access is being reduced during the pandemic. It is based on the experience of archives in the first half of 2020, as captured through The UK National Archives’ webinars and surveying. New restrictions may be applied with relatively short notice, so this checklist is designed to support archive services with business continuity planning and preparation ahead of any changes.
The (UK) National Archives (TNA) is running a ‘Letters of Lockdown’ project and is inviting members of the public to express themselves and their experiences of the pandemic through written communication, be they letters, notes, postcards or diary entries. The project centres around four themes: separation, kindness, strength and hope, and uses examples of documents displayed in the exhibition to inspire public contributions. The project started on 17th August with the theme of separation and will showcase a touching love letter written in 1623 by Endymion Porter to his wife Olive whilst he was away carrying out royal duties in Spain. TNA will release a theme each week over four weeks, using social media to spread the word.
There will also be a family/children’s version available, created by the Time Travel Club – TNA’s family programme. Using the same themes, children will be able to learn about different documents, as well as use children-friendly writing prompts and tips.
TNA is keen to attract contributions from people all over the country so that a wide range of experiences of the pandemic can be collected. TNA would love archives to get involved and promote the weekly themes on their social media channels so that a larger audience can be reached.
To get involved, share your own writing about the pandemic (or archival collections) using #LockdownLetters or visit https://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/about/visit-us/whats-on/with-love/letters-of-lockdown for more information.
The (UK) National Archives (TNA) has released a series of advocacy resources to convey the value of digital archives and the need to act now to preserve them. The new resources are part of TNA’s Plugged In Powered Up digital capacity building strategy.
The first resource is a short video which introduces the digital challenge and explains how TNA is here to help. It highlights the impact that small steps can make and the importance of developing digital preservation, access and engagement skills.
TNA’s leaflet for decision makers complements the video and explains why organisations must invest in the digital management of archives. It also warns of the risks of failing to preserve digital assets.
A second leaflet is for archive professionals themselves and lists the ways in which TNA can support archive professionals with advice and free skills training.
Museum Freelance survey findings now out
Museum Freelance – the organisation which delivered freelancer training for the ARA in March this year – has unveiled the findings of its survey into freelancers and freelancing with museums, galleries, heritage sites, libraries and archives.
The findings cover who freelancers are, their day rates, their motivations and challenges, as well as the Museum Freelance’s recommendations for organisations and freelancers, its next steps and much more.
From Survival to Sustainability – support for the heritage sector during the COVID-19 pandemic
Rebuilding Heritage is a free support programme, funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, to help the heritage sector respond to the ongoing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. It aims to build confidence in a time of crisis by supporting individuals and organisations to overcome immediate challenges and plan for a sustainable future. It will provide training, advice, and support through:
- one-to-one and group coaching and training sessions
- opportunities for knowledge sharing
- open access webinars
- online guides and case studies
The programme is coordinated by The Heritage Alliance and will be delivered through a partnership with Clore Leadership, Creative United, the Chartered Institute of Fundraising, and Media Trust. It is funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund.
REALM Project Test Results: Longevity of Coronavirus on materials
As part of the REALM Project’s research, Battelle has conducted four natural attenuation studies to provide information on how long the Coronavirus may survive on materials common to archives, libraries, and museums. The studies were conducted by applying the virulent SARS-CoV-2 virus on five materials held at standard room temperature (68°F to 75°F) and relative humidity conditions (30 to 50 percent). The materials were a hardback book cover, a softcover book cover, a plastic protective cover, a DVD case and expanded polyethylene foam.
Results show that after six days of quarantine the SARS-CoV-2 virus was still detected on all five materials tested.
Click here for full details of the test results.
Archives Testbed Fund: Applications invited for Round 5
The Archives Testbed funding scheme provides grants of up to £10,000 for archives who would like to test, explore or evolve a new idea that has the potential to improve the way we all keep, preserve, promote and enable access to archives. A themed approach is being introduced for some rounds of the Archives Testbed Fund which will enable funds to be targeted towards immediate sector needs, challenges or topics considered to be of wider interest.
Round 5, which is currently open for applications, will have the theme ‘Reaching audiences during the COVID-19 pandemic’. The deadline for this round has been extended to 2nd November 2020. The funding scheme would like to support archives who are exploring alternative ways to reach out to audiences, who are testing different approaches to audience development and are developing approaches to engagement that they have not tried previously.
Open Preservation Foundation (OPF) publishes digital preservation community survey results
The findings report and raw data from the OPF digital preservation community survey are now available on the OPF website - https://openpreservation.org/news/digital-preservation-community-survey-results-published/
With responses gathered from 98 organisations in 31 countries, the results provide an interesting snapshot of the digital preservation landscape today.
Community archives toolkit
The Norfolk Record Office is running a ‘Community Archives: Skills, Support and Sustainability’ project to enable community archive groups to preserve, manage and provide access to their historical collections through guidance, training and resources. The project has created a Community archives toolkit that explains how to collect, catalogue, digitise and preserve archive material.
The project also monitors the Norfolk Archives Network Forum, where community archive groups can promote their collections, network with their peers and request professional help. The Norfolk Record Office would like to thank the National Lottery Heritage Fund for their valuable role in funding the Community Archives project and would also like to thank National Lottery players for making this project possible.
Historic England: latest guidance from Historic England on cleaning and disinfecting historic surfaces https://historicengland.org.uk/coronavirus/historic-places/cleaning-disinfecting-historic-surfaces/
Save the Date for World Digital Preservation Day on Thursday 5th November
Save the date for this year’s World Digital Preservation Day which will take place on 5th November. Join individuals and institutions from across the globe in a celebration of digital preservation!
With the theme 'Digits: for Good,' World Digital Preservation Day 2020 is an opportunity to connect the digital preservation community and celebrate the positive impact digital preservation has had in a year which has seen a sudden and global reliance on digital information and infrastructure.
“This year, more than others, World Digital Preservation Day is an opportunity to really showcase the critical work of our community, and how the impact of that work will be felt for good - or at least for as long as required,” explains Sarah Middleton, DPC Head of Advocacy and Community Engagement.
Open to participation from anyone interested in securing our digital legacy – across all sectors and geographic locations – data creators, curators, and consumers from around the world are invited to share their own 'Digits: for Good' stories through blog posts, social media posts, events and creative activities.
World Digital Preservation Day is just one of the ways the Digital Preservation Coalition (DPC) helps to raise awareness of the strategic, cultural, and technological issues which make up the digital preservation challenge. The DPC also supports members through other advocacy activities, workforce development, capacity-building, and partnership; helping members to deliver resilient long-term access to digital content and services and derive enduring value from their digital collections.
Arts Council England are administering a separate portion of the DCMS funding to arts and cultural organisations (both non-profit and for-profit) based in England. More details can be found here.
The British Film Institute are also administering the Culture Recovery Fund for Independent Cinemas in England, on behalf of the UK Government. Details can be found here.
The (UK) National Archives: The results of TNA’s Coronavirus impact survey/webinar results can be found here:
The (UK) National Archives: TNA updated useful resources webpage can be found here:
The (UK) National Archives: TNA’s updated checklist for re-opening can be found here:
To gather information on how the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak is affecting and will affect the cultural sector in the short and long term, ICOM launched a global survey to analyse the impact of lockdowns. The survey covered five themes: the current situation for museums and staff, predicted economic impact, digital and communication, museum security and conservation of collections, freelancer museum professionals. The report has analysed almost 1,600 responses from museums and museum professionals, in 107 countries and across continents, which were collected between 7 April and 7 May 2020.
In parallel, UNESCO Report ‘Museums Around the World in the Face of COVID-19’ (May 2020) contains the results of UNESCO’s world-wide survey conducted on the impact of COVID-19 on museums. The report provides new insights into the numbers and key trends of museums around the world, the measures museums have taken in response to the pandemic and actions proposed for the aftermath of the crisis. The report underscores the resilience of museums, as well as the challenges they face in their efforts to continue to promote access to culture.
SSE Enterprise: Guidance from SSE Enterprise on the ways in which building services can be used to reduce the spread of COVID-19, with a particular focus on ventilation and air conditioning.
Details of the Arts Council’s emergency funding for National Portfolio Organisations, organisations outside the National Portfolio, and individuals. There is also information for organisations that are currently in receipt of funding from the Arts Council and details of further support available from government and non-government sources.
Details of the National Lottery Heritage Fund’s Emergency Fund, providing short-term funding for organisations delivering heritage projects or running previously funded projects, and safeguarding heritage sites that the National Lottery Heritage Fund has previously invested in.
An article about how to treat books during COVID-19: http://blog.bne.es/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/How-to-act-with-books-in-the-face-of-the-risk-of-COVID-19.pdfThe Institute of Museum and Library Services: Details of a COVID-19 Research Partnership to inform safe handling of collections, reopening practices for libraries, Museums: https://www.imls.gov/news/covid-19-research-partnership-inform-safe-handling-collections-reopening-practices-libraries