Resources for Community Archives in Norfolk

archive photographs and diaries

Community organizations are doing amazing work to collect, preserve and share Norfolk related archives. In 2018, NORAH, with its partner the Norfolk Record Office, consulted community archives in Norfolk. The purpose was to find out what their concerns were and what support they required. As a result, NORAH will use its website to publish advice on various aspects of managing archives. The emphasis will be on ensuring the work of community archives is sustainable so that future generations can benefit. The resources have been created for NORAH by the Norfolk Record Office.

In 2019, the Dulverton Trust funded NORAH to deliver training to community archives in Norfolk and to make that training available on its website. The training events were called, Looking After Archives and you will find links to the relevant presentations below. NORAH was also funded to create an online forum for community archives, for which you will also  find details on this page.


Checklist of key actions

There are some basic actions which will help make the work of community archives in Norfolk more effective and sustainable. They are based on the many prerequisites of archive accreditation and museum accreditation. Despite this, the following actions do not have to be onerous or detract from the main aims of your organisation.

  1. Agree on a name and universal contact details
  2. Have a basic management / decision making structure
  3. Agree on a mission statement and / or collection policy
  4. Accession documentation
  5. Location information
  6. Access policy
  7. Preservation strategy, including an emergency plan
  8. Cataloguing methodology linked to accession documentation
  9. Have a forward plan

Agree on a name

Your organization will benefit from deciding on one name and not using different versions of that name. This is true, even if your organization is not constituted. Even if you choose to have your own website, there are a lot of online resources which you can use to promote your activities and collections to people beyond your immediate community. Using one name makes it easier for people to be confident they are approaching the right organization.

Similarly, it is beneficial if your organization has its own email account rather than using members’ personal accounts. This means that as personnel change over time, you do not have to remember all the places you have published email addresses. 

It is easy to set up an email address for free using services offered by Google, Yahoo and many others. It is a straightforward process to forward emails received from that account to your personal email inbox or to an email client.

The slides from Looking After Archives event on this subject can be viewed here as a PDF document.


Collection policies and mission statements

A mission statement enables your organization to have shared objectives and ensures everyone in your organization is working towards those goals. In addition, they tell the wider world what you do. They do not have to be long. For example, the Norfolk Record Office’s mission statement is to ‘collect, preserve and make available documents worthy of permanent preservation which relate to Norfolk’. 

Mission statements can be included in various other documents, including your collection policy. This document is incredibly important for any organization which collects. Again, it doesn’t need to be long or complicated.

Collection policies help organizations focus their resources, including volunteer time, on what matters to them and their community. You can limit your collections by geographical area, date, subject or media type. For example, you may only want to collect digital copies of archives.

Published collection policies can be used by individuals and organizations looking for a home for archives to identify suitable places to approach. 

The National Archives publishes advice on writing collection policies here. For an example of a collection policy, you can view that of the Norfolk Record Office. Use the Norfolk Archives Network to share your collection policy and mission statement. You can also use it to seek advice when writing these key documents.

The slides from Looking After Archives event on this subject can be viewed here as a PDF document.


Accessioning

Accessioning is the process of an organization receiving archives into its custody. If done well, accessioning allows your organization to obtain physical and intellectual control of material coming into your organization. As a consequence, you’re able to manage the archives in accordance with the wishes of the donor / depositor. Accessioning allows you to record what you are receiving, when you’re receiving it, from whom, and under what terms; i.e. who owns the material. 

More information about accessioning and what should be included in your accessioning documentation is available here (PDF).  

We have provided a template accession form and instructions on how to use and amend it. We have also provided a template for an accession register. All documents are available as Google Docs. The accession register is also available as a Google Sheet. You can download each file in a variety of editable formats or can save a copy to your Google account (if you have one).

To download the document, click on the hypertext link. The Google Doc will open in your Internet browser. Click ‘File’ and then ‘Download’. You will be given a choice to download the file in a variety of editable formats, including Microsoft Word (.docx) and Open Document Format (.odt). For Google Sheets, the choice includes Microsoft Excel (.xlsx) and Open Document Format (.ods).

Alternatively, if you have a Google account, you can save a copy of the Google Doc to your Google Drive and edit it there. To do this, follow the link, click the ‘Sign in’ blue box on the top right of you screen.  Once you have logged in, click ‘File’ and then ‘Make a copy’.


Preservation of archives

The term preservation of archives refers to all of the actions which protects the archives from damage, loss or destruction. It includes, good handling, storage environments and packaging. Click here for the presentation given at the Looking After Archives event.


Forum

NORAH has established an online network for anyone involved in collecting archives relating to Norfolk. The Norfolk Archives Network (external link) can be used to celebrate success or to ask advice. In addition, responses to queries can also be used as a resource for advice. More details about how to use the Network are available here