2013 ARA Officers' Day takes place in Birmingham

Successful day includes news, networking and membership reviewworkshop

The 2013 ARA Officers' Day took place at the University of Birmingham on 4 February. Officers from various Nations, Regions and Sections, from the ARA Board, and from the ARA staff gathered to find out more about ARA's current programme of activity.  The consultants who are working on the ARA's membership review wanted to take advantage of the occasion to get ideas and feedback on their work from this important audience.

The programme for the day began with an update on ARA activity from John Chambers, CEO,  a very warm 'thank you' from Chair of the ARA Martin Taylor and a few words on advocacy and communication work from Head of Public Affairs Marie Owens.

Lizzy Baker, Chair of the Training Group, explained the step change that would take place in April in ARA Training. Sections and regions would continue to offer training events to their members, but a new strand of training would begin. The new 'ARA Core Training' initiative will guarantee that a number of popular courses which appeal widely across the sector, will be offered at least once a year (if not twice) and in a number of locations. ARA members should never have to wait too long for a key course, or have to travel too far. These courses will be subsidised to ensure maximum affordability. There are eight core training courses being planned: Freedom of Information, New and Refurbished Buildings, Digital Preservation, E-records Management, Managing Volunteers, Copyright, Data Protection, and Audience Development.

Laura Cotton, Honorary Secretary of the ARA Board with previous responsibility for Sections, explained the work the ARA was doing to ensure that its own records were appropriately kept. Those responsible for ARA work - Board, staff and officers - would soon be told which ARA records it was important to keep, which records can be destroyed after a period of time and the procedures to follow for transfer after the records are deemed ready to archive.

Laura also led a session that encouraged those present to say what actions the ARA Board and staff could do to help voluntary officers to do their jobs better. The 'to do' list included: ARA byelaws on the website; better promotion of Board summaries  and better navigation generally on the website; an information pack for new officers;  and ARA email addresses for officers so ARA business is separate from the day job.

membershipreview 249 x 114After lunch Sharon Hedges, Marcus Bennett and Jane Dalton led a session to get maximum feedback from officers as they began to draw together their work on the ARA Membership Review. From small discussion groups (each with a membership group in mind) with a moderator, a records box, lots of post it notes and coloured pens, came feedback on: what most annoyed ARA members about the ARA; what membership benefits are valued and which not.

(Some of the comments from the day have already been actioned:  Lorraine Logan has added ARA byelaws to the website and a reminder that Board summaries are available on the website  is in ARA TODAY).

The photo shows the physical results of the afternoon session, with Jane Dalton(left) and Sharon Hedges (right) of SH Communications.  Literally, the building blocks of the ARA’s future?