2017 Conference

Change the Record

The 2017 BAC conference took place on 21st November. Hosted by Harper Collins in their amazing office, The News Building, near London Bridge the day considered some of the changes affecting archives. Through speakers and discussion sessions attendees explored how the records themselves have developed, how this has affected their management, and finally how the use of records has changed. Read the bursary winners' reflections on different parts of the day.

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Opening presentation

- Simon Demissie and Arike Oke, archivists at The Wellcome Trust

Wellcome changes: rethinking our approach in an evolving environment

The archive world has borne witness to a gradual change over time in the records being created, how those records are used, the expectations of what archives should collect, and in the way that people want to access those records. Archive professionals now need a range of skills barely dreamt of by our predecessors. How can we as a profession respond and develop to these opportunities, and how can we work beyond the traditional skills, background and communities of research to become more open, agile and adaptable in both our professional practice and in the archive services we run? Drawing on the recent experiences at Wellcome Collection, this keynote will analyse what we have done to attempt to create and re-create working practices, communities of knowledge and teams. We will reflect on the progress of Wellcome’s experiments in challenging our approaches to collections information and collection development. We will examine whether these approaches have helped the library to contribute more visibly towards the strategic goals of Wellcome itself, and we will ask what comes next for both Wellcome and the archives sector.

Presentation slides and notes

Panel session - The changing nature of the business record

- Dr Elizabeth Lomas, UCL

The move from paper to digital through to social media, IoT, blockchain and the rise of a range of software from Facebook to SAP.

Drawing on research including the Continued Communication research project (a cooperative inquiry with 82 co-researchers) and the international network RecordDNA (https://recorddna.wordpress.com/ ) led by Lomas and Prof Julie McLeod which is reviewing the needs of the digital evidence base, this presentation will consider how we might manage information in a changed world and the questions we need to ask moving forwards.

- Mary Rutherford, Records Management Business Analyst, GSK 

The Life and Death of the Laboratory Notebook: The changing nature of the record - lab notebooks, a case study

A perspective on the history of the Laboratory Notebook, from point of view of R&D in the pharmaceutical industry. How did the Laboratory Notebook evolve and what does the future look like for the electronic research experiment record?

 - Chris Campbell, GSK

ERP and the implications for records management

The fact that Records Managers are being challenged by new technology is nothing new however the increase in ERP Technology (e.g. SAP) as a standard business information tool is challenging some core RM and Archive practices and principles. This is a short opinion piece intended to provoke some questions about ERP and its potential impact on how we apply approach retention management and in the longer term, historic appraisal.

Afternoon opening presentation

- Dawn Sinclair, archivist at Harper Collins

Celebrating a 19th century business in a 21st century world 

Archives hold hundreds of amazing stories and in this digital world, we have never had so many options in how we tell them. To celebrate our 200 year anniversary, we had to go beyond the conventional and think about how to engage our customers, employees and ensure our celebration was a success.

Presentation slides

An interactive sesison will follow.

Panel session - Using the record

- Margaret Procter, Senior Lecturer, Records and Archives Studies, The University of Liverpool

The future archive as a corporate asset : a collaborative PhD project between the University of Liverpool and Barclays Group Archives

The ‘Accounts with Interest’ project, in its preliminary stages, aims to investigate a business archive, not in terms of the information within the records it holds, but as a ‘site of enquiry’ in its own right. The project, which started with the first of two PhD students in 2016, is one of a tiny number of Arts and Humanities Research Council awards to investigate the practices of recordkeeping. The holdings of BGA, in common with those of all archives, reflect both the technical and structural arrangements of the past.  BGA’s current services and functions, which provide value to the corporation, are thus intimately linked to those past structures and practices. Given the radical changes both to technology and corporate working from the 1980s, will this link hold good for the future archive? Will BGA be able to bring value, and offer services, to the corporation in 50 years’ time, given the recordkeeping practices, and structural changes, of the late 20th and early 21st centuries? To try to answer these questions, the project will investigate how the characteristics and constraints of current systems (both technical and structural) within the corporate environment might require BGA to change its relationship with the contemporary corporate record and what the consequences for the role of BGA as a corporate asset might be. This paper will encourage business archives to consider similar collaborative projects, while giving greater detail on some of the problems encountered.

Presentation slides

- Alix Green, Essex University and Judy Faraday,The John Lewis Partnership

Developing a model for academic-archivist co-designed projects in business

This session is about creating a model for archivist-academic engagement that challenges the simplistic notion that archivists make records available and respond to enquiries, and academics come into the archive to access those records for their own research.  Building on many years’ collaboration, the speakers will share their early-stage perspectives on a new co-designed project looking at John Lewis’ post-war pay policy, which aims to inform the business’ present-day strategies. Judy Faraday from John Lewis will discuss the benefits to the archive within its commercial context of an approach that brings academic and archival expertise together to respond to current business priorities. Alix Green from the University of Essex will then explore how shifting mind-set – from seeing archivists as gatekeepers to recognising their role as collaborative partner – can transform and energise the research and its potential for impact.

Presentation slides

- Ryland Thomas, Senior Economist, the Bank of England.

The use of archival data at the Bank of England to help answer current policy questions 

This presentation will discuss a joint project by archivists, IT staff and economists at the Bank to transcribe the archival data on the Bank’s transactions during historical financial crises and how that archival data can inform current policy.

There will be plenty of opportunity for discussion throughout the day.

Presentation slides

Download the programme

The conference was followed by the Wadsworth prize for Business History.