List of Contents, Basic Archive Skills Training Day Handbook (February 2001)


§             Introduction and First Principles                                                   1

        Margaret Crockett & Janet Foster                                                

§             Basic Preservation, Storage & Handling of Archives                 2

        Janet Foster                                                                                   

§             Info-byte ~ Evaluating Preservation Progress                            8

        Jonathan Rhys-Lewis

§             An Introduction to Archival Description                                        9

        Caroline Shenton

§             Reference Services                                                                    15

        Margaret Crockett & Janet Foster

§             Sample Reading Room Regulations                                         19

        Margaret Crockett & Janet Foster

§             Reading Room Facilities Checklist                                            20

§             Records Management Overview                                               21

        Margaret Crockett

§             Automation for Records Operations                                          33 

        Christopher Hilton

§             Data-pooling                                                                                40

        Christopher Hilton

§             Select Bibliography                                                                     43

§             Useful Journals                                                                           50

§             Useful Websites and Listserves                                                51

§             Useful Contacts                                                                           56

§             theBASTD Glossary                                                                   58

§             Speakers’ Contact Details                                                          62 

§             List of Participants                                                                      63

§             Other BASTD Training Opportunities                                        64

§             The Archive-Skills Consultancy                                                  67


Info-byte ~ What are Archives and

why do they Require Special Management?





Ø      An archive is an accumulation of records and documents from one organisation or individual. The organisation or individual is also known as the provenance of the archive. Where the provenance is not clear, much evidential and informational value is lost.

Ø      Archives are a by-product of activities and functions, not deliberately and consciously created for their own sake. Rare exceptions might be medieval chronicles and letters or testimonies (written or oral) recorded with the intent of putting the author’s viewpoint on record.

Ø      Archive can also mean the physical repository where archives are kept.




Archives are worth spending time and money on to maintain permanently because: 

Ø      They are unique - archives will usually be the only record or evidence of the decision, policy or activity which they document.

Ø      They have been selected for preservation due to their continuing value as primary source material documenting the culture and history of the individual, organisation and society.




Ø      The original order of the archives provides evidence of the links between records, reflecting the links between functions and activities. Archives are arranged and described according to the way they were organically created – unlike books which tend to be described according to title, subject or author.

Ø      Keeping the original document can be essential, particularly if it is older, because watermarks, seals and signatures give vital information. Also the way that information is arranged in the document can help to identify the type of record.



Ø      The Society of Archivists

Ø      Keeping Archives edited by J Ellis, Thorpe (2/1993)

Ø      Managing Business Archives edited by A Turton, Butterworth-Heinemann (1991)


What is the difference between books and archives, and how does this affect their management?




Archives and records are unique, their description needs individual consideration. The links between records (their original order) within an archive provides additional evidence about the creating organisation/individual – unlike books they cannot be sorted and described according to subject




Preservation Sits at the Centre of Repository Management

·	Staff Training and handling
·	Environmental monitoring
·	User education/handling
·	Frequency of use
·	Quality of media at creation
·	Good handling practices
·	Determines volume of material
·	Determines condition of material
·	Clear description to identify records required
·	Nothing produced in search-room unnecessarily
·	Careful handling
·	Can be a preservation tool
·	Fire/flood prevention
·	Security
·	Environmental conditions





Electronic Records Quick Quiz



Answer the following questions as well as you can and check the answers on the reverse.



1.      What do we need in order to read electronic records?

2.      What needs to happen as a computer system containing electronic records become obsolete?

3.      Why is it crucial for record keeping professionals to establish good relations with IT professionals?

4.      Give two reasons for establishing version control for electronic records.

5.      What are the five characteristics of an adequate record?

6.      Why does the record creator play an even more crucial role in managing electronic records than in the paper environment?

7.      How can we tackle the issues of ensuring that electronic records are properly classified and that we have good version control?

8.      Can you name the two main sorts of metadata?

9.      Name at least three advantages of well classified electronic records.

10.  How is access revolutionised in the electronic arena?


Electronic Records Quick Quiz



1.      Hardware, software and a power source.

2.      The records need to be migrated to a new system.

3.      Because we don’t – and cannot possibly expect – to have the technical skills necessary to work on the technical design of systems which create and maintain electronic records. If we cannot establish good communications and working relationships with them we will not be able to achieve the record keeping systems we need to manage electronic records.

4.      We need to know which is the most current version of the record and we may need to recreate the development process of the activity or decision.

5.      Reliability, authenticity, completeness, comprehensiveness, known provenance

6.      Because the creator may be the only one aware that the records exist – there is no physical evidence that records need to be classified and filed.

7.      We can institute strong guidance on the way all records, including documents undergoing revision, must be captured and named.

8.      Description metadata (this is the sort of thing we are used to in paper records) and technical metadata (this is things like the exact hardware and software necessary to read the records).


a.        We can link records across classification groups in a considered way

b.        We and users can browse the contents of a category

c.         We and users can access all the relevant documents at the same time

d.       Other classification categories such as information about creators and dates of creation can help with complex search strategies and lead to the identification of similar records required for business or research use

e.        Classifying records according to retention will allow the application of reviews and disposal procedure

10.  Access in the electronic arena allows us to make records available outside of a reading room where we retain control of the physical record. It will also allow researchers to access records across repositories – and non-repositories – around the world.


UCL Summer School on Managing Electronic Records



As part of the course, you will be expected to give a short (10 minute maximum) presentation on an individual project. The project could be either an action plan or a literature survey. You will be given time to work on this at the end of each day. You will have access to some of the hard copy literature as well as the internet and the course teachers will also be available to advise and comment if you wish to consult them.


The action plan will be a real document, maybe a formal report, a project proposal or a memo with appendices, appropriate for your workplace which you could carry out - or instigate someone else to carry out - on your return.

The literature survey should focus on an area of managing electronic records which will inform your organisation about the issues involved and which will enable you to move forward in the management of electronic records.




The individual action plan is intended to help draw together threads from the programme as a whole and to be of practical use when you return to the office.


What to Choose


Choose an issue of concern to you in your home environment, for example:


·         Establishing a training strategy for you and your colleagues

·         Evaluating software for managing electronic records

·         Developing the framework for a new electronic archives policy


What to include


Your action plan should:


·         State specific objectives

·         Include a schedule for implementation

·         Give some costings and budget requirements

·         Detail staff requirements


Planning your action plan


You should have a topic for your action plan decided by the end of the first individual project session.






This form is intended to help you to assess the resources available to you in setting up training courses. It will help you to list the resources that are available to you as well as identifying areas where you need to develop resources.


Financial Resources:


Do you have a budget? If so, what is it (annual or one-off)?



Elements of a training budget

Item of expenditure

Direct cost to event or training budget

Indirect cost (where the money does not come out of your training budget)

Do you need to pay teachers?



Do you need money for extra personnel cover to free up staff from work to attend training?



Do you need to pay for venues ?



Do you need to pay for equipment hire?



Will you need to pay for handout copying?



Will you need to pay for overheads and other visual aids?



Are there any administration costs?



·          Post

·          Copying

·          Stationery

·          Telecom

·          Staff time

·          Accounting



Will you need to pay for meals and transport for participants?



Will you need to pay for meals and transport for teachers?
















Archives and records management skills

Other skills

Are there people on your staff with these skills?



Are there people in Estonia?



Are there people in the region?



Do you need experts from further afield?









Do you have a library of relevant material easily accessible?



If not, how will you find the necessary literature to support your teaching?



Do you have access to the internet? Do you know how to find relevant material on the internet?