Birmingham Archives and Heritage Elevator Pitch

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This pitch is aimed at an IT Manager based in the library but without an understanding of the details of the Archives Service.  Birmingham Archives and Heritage is a medium-to-large local authority archives service in the country's largest local authority with an externally sourced IT department.


We are the Archives and Heritage Department based in Birmingham Central Library and we preserve and make available documents relating to the history of Birmingham.  Our role is to look after documents and photographs and make them available for people who want to learn about who they are and where they come from.  It's not just finding out about the history of their local area or their family history but for some people it's getting access to medical records, checking their immigration status or even finding out information about their parents and siblings when they've spent time in care.


We have a lot of expertise in sorting, arranging and making available physical documents dating back over the last 800 years but increasingly the collections of documents are coming to us in digital formats and we also need to think about preserving these.  This includes photographs, emails, websites, video clips etc.  We want to ensure that people in 100 years time will be able to access material relating to the history of Birmingham from the twenty first century as easily as they can for the twelfth century.   


Obviously we can't keep every email, photograph or videoclip that is produced but we know we have the expertise to be able to make decisions about what to keep and what to get rid.  This ensures that our personal and community heritage is preserved without overloading storage or keeping so much you can't easily identify important and relevant information when it's needed.


I've just been offered a collection of 50,000 TIFF files which are a visual document of the development of the Bullring Centre in Bimringham.  At the moment they are still with the photographer but I really want to find a way of being able to store them securely and then make sure that they will still be accessible in years to come.  The photographer is coming in to talk about the collection in a couple of weeks so if we could have an initial meeting to think through the storage issues and solutions first that would be really helpful.  I want to feel confident about assuring him that as a large local authority we have the capacity and knowledge to ensure the preservation of these photographs.  This is likely to be a high profile collection which will attract press coverage and we want to demonstrate that we are a world class institution with the expertise to manage and preserve digital collections like this one.

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