ARA Officers' Day proceedings published

February 2015 Officers' Day proceedings shared 


Archives and Records Association (United Kingdom & Ireland)
Officers’ Day 2015
Held 12th February 2015, National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh
Kim Beasley, Scotland
Sally Bevan, Volunteers
Fergus Brady, Ireland
Maria Castrillo, ALES
Justin Cavernelis-Frost, ARA Board
John Chambers, ARA Chief Executive 
Ann Chow, Film and Sound
Alison Diamond, ALES
Nancy Fulford, South East
Craig Geddes, Scotland/ASLAWG
Lindsay Ince, Northern
Hannah Jones, South East/Training
Alison Kay, Northern
Lorraine Logan, ARA
Frances Lund, New Professionals
Karl Magee, Scotland
David Mander, ARA Chair
Wiebke McGhee, ASLAWG
Marie Owens, ARA
Ellie Pridgeon, CfNR/Training 
Edward Radcliffe, Records Management and Information Governance 
Jim Ranahan, Film and Sound
Morwenna Roche, London
Anna Siddall, ARA Board
Sophie Stewart,  North West 
Victoria Strobo,  Scotland
Graham Tratt, South West/Training 
Richard Wade, West Midlands 
Ben White, Business Records 
Karyn Williamson, Scotland/New Professionals
1 Introduction by the ARA Chair, David Mander
David Mander, ARA Chair, welcomed attendees to the Officers Day 2014. The purpose of the day was to look at communications between the ARA Board and volunteers across all groups, learn about current ARA initiatives and plans and to discuss issues of common interest. One of the strengths of ARA is its volunteer officers and the day was an opportunity to discuss the challenges faced by ARA volunteer officers in their roles and to map ways forward to support volunteer officers to deliver the services, programmes and initiatives of the ARA as articulated through the ARA strategic and business plans. The ARA will be introducing organisation-wide induction for new officers, especially Chairs and aim to ensure that good practice is shared across groups, nations regions and sections to better meet the needs of members on the ground.
2 Welcome from the National Records of Scotland
Officersdayt 685 x748Iain Ferguson, welcomed ARA to the National Records of Scotland.  The meeting was held in the famous Dome Room of West Register House, and delegates were able to appreciate the historic architecture and deliberate under the Scottish tomes of births, marriage and deaths!
3 Round table introductions
Karl Magee, Chair of ARA Scotland welcomed attendees to the Officers Day 2015, and, to set a positive tone, began the meeting by asking all attendees to speak in turn, giving their name, ARA experience, and an example of things that ARA, or their Region/Section do well.
Examples of things that are done well were cited as cross-group working with other regions, interest groups and professional bodies, CPD and training, sharing information resources, joint events and meetings, strategic collaboration, advocacy campaigns such ‘Explore Your Archive’ and ‘Don’t Risk It! Know Your Records’, practical advice and guidance. In conclusion, it was felt that as an organisation, ARA does well what we say we do.
4 Strategic Priorities
4.1 ARA Initiatives update, John Chambers, ARA Chief Executive 
John Chambers gave an update on the key strategic plans and programmes of ARA, looking back at work and achievements in 2014 and looking forward to plans in 2015.
ARA Conference in Newcastle.  A very successful conference was held, building on previous years. Feedback indicates that the quality of papers is high and that the conference is seen as a very positive contribution to the development of the professions represented by ARA members.
Bursaries and awards. A number of ARA bursaries and awards are available, but often few applications are received. Groups are asked to encourage members to apply. (Note: a new approach to bursaries was outlined by David Mander later in the proceedings)
Registration Scheme. The Registration Scheme is to be reconsidered as part of major review of CPD.
National Digitisation Consortium.  The first phase is now complete, bringing together over 100 services to digitise school registers dating from before 1914 from 13 counties across England and Wales.
Training. Training events – over 70 organised in 2014, a fantastic achievement.
Digital Preservation Training. Practical Digital Preservation Training has been developed with Preservica
Member Review implementation. Changes in the way ARA works and delivers services for members, based on the consultations and recommendations of the Member Review are being implemented, including the introduction of new membership categories.
Website and Social Media Policy. These are being developed and refined.
Other work. Includes: Advocacy development and research; Work on legislation, EU matters; Drafting submissions to enquiries, consultations, reports; Supporting the sector – services at risk
Advocacy campaigns.  ‘Explore Your Archive’ and ‘Don’t Risk It! Know Your Records’
2015 will see the development of new services and opportunities and the continuation of work in progress, including:
•Launch of ARA app
•Ongoing advocacy campaigns
•Ongoing support for services at risk
•Responding to consultations, and work on legislation
•Development of a comprehensive New CPD offer
•Offering of new  courses – e.g. Fundraising skills
•Continue to develop ARA website
•New approaches for workforce studies in light of demise of old Sector Skills Councils and similar bodies – if we don't do this no-one else will and we are best placed to tell the world about our sector – archives, records managers, conservators
•Open Government Initiative – lobbying for better record keeping across government
•Talking to the British Records Association about a strategic alignment with ARA
•Implementation of recommendations of the Member Review – implementation of agreed recommendations concerning new membership category for supporters and a review of membership fee structure and rates
•ARA Conference in Dublin
•Improvements to CARN Reader ticket system
4.2 ARA Awards, David Mander, ARA Chair 
David Mander outlined proposals the Board had discussed for a re-assessment and re-alignment of the range of awards that ARA offered. The time had come to look at these as a portfolio of measures of recognition of achievement and excellence to ensure consistency and transparency in their administration and application. At present the ARA awards include The Ellis Prize, the ARA Volunteering Award, the Community Archive of the Year award, the FARMER Research Thesis Award and lifetime honorary membership.  We will create a new sub-committee of the Board to oversee awards and to administer the Ellis Prize, lifetime honorary membership and the three new awards we will be creating, to celebrate what we do and to promote archives to the wider world. These will be Distinguished Service Awards (DSAs), Record Keeper of the Year and Record-Keeping Service of the Year Award.    There would a nomination process for the new awards. Final decisions on the DSAs will be recommended by the Awards Sub-Committee to the Board. A short-list for record Keeper of the Year and record Keeping Service of the Year will be made and public voting will be promoted through Survey Monkey to choose a winner in each category. There will be no monetary prize for the new awards, but sponsorship will be sought for the associated award costs. The Awards officer will be advertised for shortly and the Sub-committee will be convened shortly after the 2015 AGM. It is intended to make the first of the new awards at the 2016 AGM.
4.3 Advocacy, Marie Owens, Head of Public Affairs, ARA
Marie Owens updated the meeting on the progress with campaigning activities. 
The ‘Explore Your Archive’ campaign of November 2014 had been a great success with many events across the country, and the campaign had garnered a good deal of positive local and national press coverage. A  great success of 2014 not achieved in previous campaigns was the high level of national television coverage, and the success of the sector in drawing in high profile ‘names’ to help promote the campaign. The social media strategy for 2014 was a new development and it had exceeded expectations. Lessons for 2015, drawn from the feedback received, were to keep the main campaign focus to a single time period in November, to continue to draw in high profile media names, to act as campaign ambassadors and to build on the use of social media to promote events and archives to the wider world.
Don’t Risk It! Know Your Records continues to be a successful brand for this campaign, aimed at decision makers in organisations and business, with a high profile event planned for February at the London offices of KPMG.
4.4 Changes in networks to help ARA deliver more effectively, Anna Siddall, Portfolio Holder for the Regions and David Mander, ARA Chair
Anna Siddall circulated an ARA briefing note ‘Reimagining and reconnecting our groups and networks’ (Appendix A). The purpose of this note was to explain change agreed by the Board in response to the consultation of the Member Review to make the best use of voluntary officers’ time, to increase the effectiveness of communication between ARA and groups and to improve the consistency of the ARA offer to members. The changes are intended to free up groups time and enable everyone to think creatively about how best to continue delivering events that are valued by ARA members.
The changes affect all Sections, Nations and Regions, Other ARA groups and individuals who represent ARA on external bodies.
The Key changes are:
1. Updating the ARA Bylaws 
•Amalgamating the Groups/Nations and Sections byelaws
•Remove the need for local AGMs. As the groups are not charitable structures in their own right this is not needed.
•Minimise the number of officers required. In addition to a Chair and a secretary, any group may choose additional officers to support their activity as required. For example Chairs may choose to delegate budget setting and monitoring to a ‘treasurer’.
•Introduced a maximum term for chairs to serve 
•Remove limits for the number of meetings to be held
•Reinforce that anyone can attend any regional meeting
•Introduce requirement for terms of reference, annual priorities (linked to any budget request) and annual report
•Making it easier to  propose the formation of new groups  (Including regional groups) to the ARA Board
2. More effective and timely meetings
•Introduce an annual board briefing – May, preceding AGM
•Introduce annual induction day - October
•End the Committee for Nations and Regions
•Additional meetings as required
3. More timely communication
•Summary of board discussion and decisions
•Improvements to the ARA website
•Board / ARA Officer attendance at group meetings
4. Supporting new ways of working
•Welcome, induction and exit programme for chairs
•Work with chairs to ensure we offer a vibrant programme of events and development opportunities for ARA members
•Identify support for those interested in taking on leadership positions within ARA
The new byelaws can be found at on the ARA website, and are also appended. Additional guidelines on operational practice can be found in the Officers Handbook.  The Officers Handbook will be updated shortly to reflect these changes. David Mander explained that these very positive changes had been introduced to make clear what ARA was doing to disseminate information and to better assist and support people who were giving their time and energy to support the work of ARA. 
5 Workshop 1: Enabling and supporting groups
Anna Siddall led a group workshop, in which the groups were invited to consider the potential introduced by the byelaw changes: 
Group A: Possibilities
• What can you do?
• What can't you do? Why?
• What does this mean for your group?
• Who do you need to tell? How will you communicate it?
Group B: Leadership
• Who can help us? (Learning from elsewhere?)
• What could you do 7 (Buddying, training?)
• What would you want? (Shadowing, mentoring, buddying?)
• What do we need to do?
Group Feedback
•Consider how to best capture knowledge and expertise when chairs and other group office holders leave and move on, Succession planning for office holders
•Create mentoring opportunities for office holders, consider shadowing and handovers
•Develop Section/Region handbooks for local use
•Agreed that new structures announced should help with quicker and better communication
•Suggestion to develop a bank of job descriptions for volunteer officer roles
•Central advertising of volunteer officer vacancies
6 Skills Development: Successful programming and event delivery
Nancy Radford, Roundtuit gave a presentation on how to plan for and deliver events and how to engage and inspire, helping people to use their strengths and limited resources to make the organisation more effective and more fun. Nancy outlined the skills, behaviours and mindsets needed for success, leading an interactive session to help attendees to understand the three key factors that result in success, discover what resources are available and how to make the most of what you have. Nancy concentrated on how you motivate people to volunteer, and how to engage practical support to achieve goals.
Marie Owens then led the group. Drawing on her own extensive experience of event planning and public relations she explained some of the pitfalls and secrets to success. She urged people to expect the unexpected when planning events, not to panic when things go awry, and to be confident when public speaking and engaging in any form of external event. Above all both Nancy and Marie encourage people to be enthusiastic, for when we are enthusiastic and engaged with what we do, then that shines through any event that we are part of.
7 Workshop 2: Induction
Justin Cavernelis-Frost led a workshop looking at the issues, skills and behaviours required if ARA is to create a successful framework for induction of new voluntary officers.
The meeting was split into four groups and each was asked to consider a different aspect of the essential things that an ARA voluntary officer needs to know.
Group 1: Who’s who
•Information should be easily available on the ARA website
•Board members should make efforts to visit regions/section meetings
Group 2: Budgets and finance procedures
•The Officers’ Handbook should be the starting point. All Officers should have the latest version and be encouraged to use it.
•Additional information such as budget codes should be added to the handbook, and information about the responsibilities of officer holders under Charity Law
Group 3: Planning and reporting
•The Officers’ Handbook should be the starting point. All Officers should have the latest version and be encouraged to use it.
•Reporting and planning cycles are important, not just an admin chore to be done they are an intrinsic part of responsible accountable planning and transparency of ARA business
Group 4: Communication
•The changes outlined earlier in the day were discussed and were generally agreed to be a positive step forward.  
8 Action planning & closing remarks
David Mander drew the meeting to a close, thanked everyone for coming and for their contributions on the day. It was very useful in taking forward future work. Regular communication, picking up on shared experience was very helpful in developing initiatives and ensuring we all work better together. David re-iterating the Board and staff’s appreciation of the hard work done by all the voluntary officers on behalf of ARA and its members.
From 2015, the Officer’ day will be replaced by an ‘Induction Day’ to be held annually in October. Messages to take forward for the 2015 Induction Day:
•ARA to consider communication networks and web officer roles (Marie Owens)
•A definitive version of the Officer’s Handbook to be issued to all voluntary officers. Handbook to be looked at annually for amendments (Anna Siddall & Justin Cavernelis-Frost)
•Look at London as a potential venue. (Anna Siddall)
Note: Feedback collated after the event indicated that attendees thought the event well organised, and valued the ARA briefings and the networking opportunity the most. Attendees felt that the right amount time was spent on each component of the day, and that the mix of presentations, briefings activities and discussions was useful. Attendees enjoyed the opportunity to meet other ARA volunteer officers, and felt that they learned skills and information that they could take away and use practically in their ARA role. The venue for the 2015 Officers’ Day was considered excellent. For future events, it was suggested that clearer advice could be given to group activities and that the day might have a clearer focus. Future events could address the important issue of succession planning and encouraging new volunteers into officer posts.
Anna Siddall, Portfolio Holder for the Regions 
Justin Cavernelis-Frost, Portfolio Holder for the Sections                                                                                                                                  
25th February 2015