ARA Revises Supporters Groups Membership

 The Archives and Records Association (UK & Ireland) announcestoday revisions to its membership criteria for Supporters Groups.

ARA Logo 21ARA Revises Supporters Groups Membership Category

Aim is to engage with and help organisations that play a key role in supporting the recordkeeping profession and services


11 April 2018

The Archives and Records Association (UK & Ireland) announces today revisions to its membership criteria for Supporters Groups.

Key Stakeholders

The ARA Board has been looking for a number of months at how it might attract into the ARA community more local groups – often run by enthusiasts and volunteers - that do so much to support the records community in the UK and Ireland. Such groups include users, advisers, fund-raisers and/or campaigners. The Board sees great benefits in bringing such enthusiastic, supportive and creative voices into the ARA community and hopes to offer tangible benefits to the groups themselves.

The ARA defines Supporters Groups as organisations like ‘friends’ of local government record offices, local history societies, family history groups, etc., ie people that provide meaningful support to records managers, archivists and archives and conservation/conservators in a volunteer or advocacy or ‘user’ capacity.

There are some conditions for this revised membership category. Any such group must have a membership of at least ten people, an established oversight committee of at least two people that records its activities, and credible articles of association. And it must be based in either the UK or Republic of Ireland.

The ARA will continue to view community-based archives as a separate category and encourage all such groups to become active in the excellent and well-established Community Archives and Heritage Group (CAHG), which is closely affiliated to, and receives specific support, from the ARA and The National Archives (UK).

What’s in it for Supporters Groups?

Many groups in the Supporter space currently operate in isolation, such as those campaigning against cuts to individual local authority record offices, their services and hours of operation. Supporters Group membership offers a chance to build links with like-minded organisations elsewhere. The Board is also aware of groups that want to gain a wider understanding of specific aspects of the records, conservation and archiving community, such as filing, cataloguing, retention policies, data protection, repair techniques and so on. There are groups actively seeking new ideas for activities, or expert speakers for their events, or want to improve their advocacy or understanding and use of social media. Affiliating to the ARA opens doors to all these and more types of expertise.

To help Supporters Groups better network with each other, the ARA will establish up a virtual Supporters Groups section as a platform for like-minded groups to interact and build an online networking community for asking questions and sharing ideas, experiences and best practice. A range of Supporters Groups have told us they would not want the ARA to create a formal Supporters Groups section committee. The Board understands and respects this.

In addition, recognising that Supporters Groups devote as many of their limited resources as possible to their ‘core’ or ‘support’ activities that benefit the entire sector, the Board has decided not to charge membership fees for qualifying Supporters Groups for a provisional trial period of eighteen months (in effect to the end of 2019).

Full membership will continue to have added benefits

The ARA can only continue to thrive through the annual membership fees paid by individuals and institutions and the generous time that many individual members devote to ARA work. Therefore, Supporters Groups and their members will not be eligible for all the advantages of full ARA membership, such as access to professional development programmes, the ARA’s research journal (Archives and Records), formal ARA core training and ARA bursaries. Of course, members of Supporters Groups that want to be a formal part of our community would be most welcome to apply to become individual members (we are great value: ARA membership fees have only increased once in the past decade!).

And, unlike other ARA sections comprising full individual and institutional ARA members, the virtual Supporters Group network would not receive an annual budget for running activities.

Summary of Revised Supporters Groups Membership Offer

  • No membership fee for a provisional period of 18 months (to the end of 2019). The Board will review this policy in the course of 2019.
  • One digital copy of the ARA’s themed monthly magazine ‘ARC’ and monthly newsletter ‘ARA Today’ (which includes useful information, eg on grants, events and sector news) to a maximum of two designated committee members of each Supporters Group.
  • Support from the ARA in networking with other groups in their community – through the establishment of an online virtual Supporters Groups section – and access to the ARA’s network of professional expertise.
  • Up to two members of a Supporters Group may attend ARA nation/region/section meetings of interest.
  • Access to the ARA website and its many ‘back-end’ resources, including practical advice, information on the work of our nations, sections and regions and background documents on a range of records management, archiving and conservation issues.
  • Access to the discounted member rate to attend the ARA’s annual conference.
  • Opportunity to submit articles for inclusion in the ARA’s monthly magazine, ‘ARC’.

The Board remains open to receiving further suggestions from Supporters Groups regarding possible member benefits; it will also review these new terms before the end of 2019.

How to join

  1. If you are a committee member of your group, believe that your group meets the above criteria and have the group’s authority to apply for membership as a Supporters Group, please email Lorraine Logan at the ARA office in Taunton: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  2. Contact the same email address or phone number if you are not sure if your group qualifies as a Supporters Group but want to check.


John Chambers