Birmingham Archives and Heritage business case for digital preservation

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Birmingham Archives and Heritage business case for digital preservation

The benefits of a preservation strategy

Digital preservation ensures the preservation and making available of historic and vital records for now and for the future.  This is vital for the functioning of the institution.

This is a draft business case which draws on pre-existing strategy documents linking service priorities to a digital preservation strategy.

Benefits Analysis and Alignment with Institutional Objectives

The aims of Birmingham Archives & Heritage are:

  • To collect and preserve the historic records of the City of Birmingham, its people, businesses and institutions
  • To make these records available for research to the public
  • To promote the use of archives to support learning, citizenship and community identities
Generic or high level benefit Detailed benefit description Aligns with Institutional Objective
Digital preservation ensures long-term access to records. A digital preservation strategy is vital to ensuring that records created over the last twenty years and from now onward that exist solely in a digital format are preserved in the same way in which physical records are.  These records come from a wide variety of sources and a robust strategy to deal with preservation of widely different formats and types is necessary to achieve this goal. Furthermore advice, guidance and best practice should be offered to ensure that businesses, institutions and communities are represented in the collections. To collect and preserve the historic records of the City of Birmingham, its people, businesses and institutions
The public should be able to access collections as easily as possible. The born digital records should be preserved in such a way that they are made available for research by the public as soon as possible and that these records continue to be available into the future.  This requires records are maintained and also that their format does not become obsolete and unreadable.  Physical records should also be made available digitally to enable as wide a community as possible to access the collections. To make these records available for research to the public
The Archives should benefit all sections of the community. Digital preservation ensures that the heritage of all sections of the community, including those traditionally under-represented in the archives, is preserved.  This includes the capturing of born digital archives, such as websites, blogs, photographs video clips etc.  Digitization current collections and improving access to them also promotes and makes available collections for use in the community and beyond the physical confines of the building. To promote the use of archives to support learning, citizenship and community identities
Meeting statutory obligations. Developing and maintaining a robust digital preservation strategy ensures that the legislative structures for record-keeping are met and maintained.  The Archives holds records under the following pieces of legislation.
  • Approved by the Lord Chancellor under the terms of the Public Records Acts of 1958 and 1967 for the deposit of designated classes of public records including records of Quarter Sessions, Magistrates Courts, HM Coroners, Department of Health, Board of Inland Revenue, Health and Safety Executive, HM Prison and Rail Users Consultative Committee.
  • Recognised by the Master of the Rolls for the deposit of manorial and tithe documents under the Law of Property Act 1922 and the Tithe Act 1936.
  • Designated as the Diocesan Record Office for the records of the Diocese of Birmingham and its constituent archdeaconries, deaneries and parishes under the terms of the Parochial Registers and Records Measure 1978, amended 1992.
  • The authorised repository for the official records of the City Council and superseded local authorities under the terms of the Local Government Act 1972.
To meet the statutory requirements for collecting and preserving records under various pieces of legislation and guidance.
A commitment to best practice in digital preservation. Birmingham Archives and Heritage follows and demonstrates best practice in all areas of digital preservation and this is demonstrated by a digital preservation strategy which is backed up by a commitment to excellence in providing access to digital content and to ensuring the long term preservation of Birmingham's heritage.
A commitment to ensuring the capture of the City Council's institutional memory is a key part of our role.
Not yet in the formal policy but will a future draft will include a statement about a commitment to digital preservation.
To meet the needs of our users and reach out to non-users Birmingham Archives & Heritage is used by a wide range of users including family and local historians, the education sector, independent learners, professional researchers etc. However it is recognised that Birmingham Archives & Heritage’s current user profile does not adequately reflect the city’s demographic pattern.  To address this situation Birmingham Archives & Heritage has identified the following as priority target user groups for the next five years:
  • People from black and ethnic minority communities
  • Young people
  • Students and academics involved in formal learning in the HE and FE sectors

    An important way in which this can be achieved is by ensuring that some of our collections are available digitally.  This requires a clear and relevant digitisation strategy and a commitment to long-term preservation
Not yet in the formal policy but a refinement will include a statement about how we reach potential users from the target group defined by the policy via digital media channels.
To ensure preservation of physical and digital assets An effective and joined up strategy for digitisation and digital preservation is necessary to ensure that we do not put any documents at risk by digitising them and we are able to store, retrieve and preserve our digitised and born digital assets. "As far as possible we should be trying to achieve a 'once only' policy for digitisation, all digitisation is damaging to some degree and while this may be justified once we should not be unnecessarily repeating the procedure. Therefore, suitable master files need to be created for all digital objects." (from draft policy on Digitisation and Standards - this document is in need of updating).
    Continue to work towards a world class library of Birmingham and to work to maximise the contribution of our cultural assets to the promotion of Birmingham.
    Continue to support the arts and to increase participation in a range of cultural activities within the city by developing new ways of delivering services.
     
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