ARA Conference 2017: Call for Papers

The Archives and Records Association UK and Ireland invites proposals fordelivery at its annual conference to be held in Manchester, UK between30 August and 1 September 2017. We welcome contributions from across theUK and Ireland, and our colleagues in the global record keepingcommunity.


Archives and Records Association, UK and Ireland

Annual Conference: 30 Aug – 1 Sept 2017, Manchester, UK

Call for Papers: ‘Challenge the Past. Set the Agenda.’

Deansgate Hilton 2Our Association marks a milestone in 2017 – it is 70 years since the foundation of the modern record keeping profession in the UK and Ireland. This is our opportunity to challenge where we have come from and now are, how we think, what issues matter for our future, and what role we can, and should be playing in modern society. This applies to all of us, as archivists, records managers and conservators, in equal measure; and to our relationships within the professions and outwith - through the varied analogue and digital environments we all work in.

The Archives and Records Association UK and Ireland invites proposals for delivery at its annual conference to be held in Manchester, UK between 30 August and 1 September 2017. Streams will encompass archives and records, digital archives and records, conservation, and digital preservation. We welcome contributions from across the UK and Ireland, and our colleagues in the global record keeping community. 

Themes to be covered in the conference include, but are NOT restricted to:


Now is the time to take stock and chart where we are going in our individual roles and as a profession, and determine what our professional space is in relation to others.  How can we become more relevant? Why do we think we are special? Do others think we are important? We need to animate our place!


Let’s explore new ideas for our profession. What are our new big challenges we face and ideas to tackle them? Are we still too wedded to our long-held paradigms, theories, treatments and techniques? Can we promote and preserve time-honoured skills that matter, while throwing caution to the wind and developing new models of working? Have we got solutions and are we articulating them properly, or do we wrap old ideas up in new packaging? How do we relate to ethics and best professional practice? And, as we launch our new Continuing Professional Development (CPD) programme at this year’s conference, how do we ensure that we set and manage – at an individual level - the professional competencies we need for the future?


How do issues such a social media, born digital, cloud storage, bulk data, data security, data protection and others fit into our existing models? Do they fit into existing models at all? Why are social media and websites being 'archived' by 'library bodies'? Is this a failure of our profession and sector to lead? How do wider issues such as world-wide environmental concerns, the monopoly of digitisation projects, the availability of repair materials, the increasingly ephemeral nature of the records and archives we strive to preserve, changing professional standards and many others, fit into our existing models of working? How do they affect our daily work and decisions?


What is the role of the archivist, records manager and conservator in the modern world - we are all record keepers; records are being created all around us. What is the impact of non-conventional records and what are we doing about it? Letters from the WW1 front were often not public records, but we now rely heavily on them for our understanding of the war, for example. As we approach the centenary of the first women to vote in 2018, will we play a front-line role in explaining that major anniversary in social development? And how ready are we for the next 100 years of social change, when nearly all our records will be born digital?


As employees we can have political and economic constraints - civil service and business being two areas where boundaries are changing. How fragile or resilient is the conservation sector? Let’s not forget the EU situation with regard to legislation, accountability and democracy.


We are in the midst of revolutionary change in record keeping. We need to direct as far as possible the development of our profession over the next decade and prepare and support our members in this endeavour. There are again obvious links to the new CPD model in ARA – what do you want from this? What do we need to do to get this right? What changes are required in our teaching, research and training? What are our CPD requirements and are these flexible enough to be achievable? How can we disseminate new information, and share new skills? What can we do for digital literacy? Is this our opportunity to demonstrate value as a profession? How can we best focus our future advocacy through new campaigns and improve the effectiveness of current campaigns?

To recap: we must take this opportunity in 2017 to determine

1. Who we are

2. What we are

3. How relevant we are

4. How we animate our place

5. How we move forward

A big theme - after 70 years, let's make a statement of professional intent. And let’s set the agenda for the next 70 years and beyond.

In forming your conference proposal:

  • Try to connect your proposal to the theme of the conference as best you can. The theme is designed for speakers to bring topics to light that touch on contemporary issues
  • Try to be creative with your paper! How will your paper stimulate debate?
  • Please provide as full information as possible as you can about your proposal – this helps the Committee in making choices about papers and scheduling of sessions
  • Try to be relevant and representative: consider looking at a topic from opposing viewpoints, or focus on the broader picture rather than institutionally specific ones
  • If you are considering making panel session or roundtable submission for a session, try to mix speakers from different backgrounds and institutions, or try to include a user or customer perspective

You can participate in the following ways:

  • individual papers (individual contributions of no more than 25 minutes)
  • panel sessions (up to 3 speakers of no more than 60 minutes)
  • tutorials – single topic presentations to smaller groups of individuals (20 minute sessions, generally for up to 15 participants)
  • workshops (30 minute practical sessions)
  • roundtables (up to 4 participants for no more than 60 minutes)


The deadline for submission of proposals is Tuesday 31 January 2017.

Notification Invitations to speak will be confirmed by the committee by end February 2017.


Full details of the conference call for papers is found at

You can submit your proposal using the online conference submission process at that web address. This year we are using a new system (for you and us!). please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you require any assistance.

Informal discussion with members of the Conference Committee is encouraged; please email conference team on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.:


All speakers will be reimbursed travel expenses (up to £100) and will receive free conference registration for the day on which they are speaking.