The National Archives (UK) Invests in the Future of Digital Records

National Archives

The Image above shows the National Archives, which is based in Kew, London. Photo credit: PA

For this article, the author, Rebecca Hill, reports on the National Archives in the United Kingdom investing in making their holdings more digital over the next two years.  This plan, “Archives Unlocked” is an effort “to drive innovation and digital transformation at the UK’s archives.”  The article quotes Jeff James, who is the chief executive and Keeper at The National Archives in the UK, who stated that the digital can help archives make their collections more open, and that despite the challenges posed by new digital technologies, this technology can also allow “greater access” and create “new opportunities” in archives.  This “Archives Unlocked” document lays out the three major challenges that this effort will answer: “digital, resilience and impact.”  In addition, John Sheridan, who is the digital director of the archives, stated that the challenge with the digital realm for the National Archives “is one of pace”, and that “Today’s digital archivists must rapidly develop new archival practices, with and for each new generation of technology…The rub is that the digital challenge for archives can never be completely solved..We are moving from relative stability to continual change.”  The article also notes how this plan will fund everything from digital preservation efforts, to innovations in data collations and online catalogues to provide better access to the archives.  The article also notes how Matt Hancock, who is the minister for digital and culture and who spoke at the launch event for this initiative, stated that technological advances had led to an increase in the public’s “thirst for knowledge”, which in turn led them to expect “easier access to information,” and that this in turn “democratises our history.”  This article shows that institutions are investing in a digital future where knowledge is stored and organized digitally.  As internet and computer technologies advance, more and more people will become accustomed to finding information online, and have easier access to this information.  As a result of this, it is therefore important that institutions are responding to the issue of the expanding digital realm by putting funding behind making archives more accessible digitally.  In short, it is interesting to see how the need for information and knowledge that is organized and stored digitally is leading some institutions, such as the National Archives in the United Kingdom, to respond to this issue by funding efforts to better adapt their holdings for the digital world.

Posted by Alexander Vastola, LIS-653-02, Spring, 2017

Hill, Rebecca. (2017, March 29). The National Archives sets out two-year plan to ensure digital future. PT: Public Technology.net. Retrieved from http://publictechnology.net/articles/news/national-archives-sets-out-two-year-plan-ensure-digital-future

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by Hugh McLeod

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Pratt Institute School of Information
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