As a work in progress, the project team have already begun to identify additional content that could be added to this guide. This is summarised below but is not yet extensive. If you have any further suggestions, please contact Kostas Arvanitis at email@example.com.
Reference to and explanation of the practicality and complexity involved in thinking about the currency or not of disaster-related information
For example, when to start collecting information, how to manage it and when it may or not feel right to consider info/materials as ‘archivable’ or in the past. This is particularly significant when disaster-related processes (political, legal etc) are ongoing. Acknowledge it may be problematic to label responses to modern disasters an ‘archive’ as it implies that the disaster has been dealt with, has no further consequences, and has been consigned to history.
Information on archives and how they operate
Reference to and advice on thinking about the pros and cons of different archives. Suggestions and examples of when not to give the collection away/which organisations may be a bad fit. Explain that some archives may only want certain elements of a group’s archive and that material may be split up to different homes.
How to cope with archives rejecting sensitive material or being unable to help
How organisations may communicate this to you, what it does and does not mean. Acknowledging that having your collection rejected from an archive can be personally difficult and traumatic for survivors of disasters, especially if they feel disenfranchised after being ignored by other social institutions besides archives or the disaster was caused by government mismanagement.
More information about what archivists realistically can and cannot do for their collections, especially in the face of current and increasing cuts. For example, sometimes it takes several years to get to processing a collection because archives are stretched and understaffed. Explanation that this does not mean materials’ owners are personally being dismissed when things don’t go as they might have hoped.
More explanation of audience and scope
For example, explaining the difference between individuals’ and organisations’ archives; the need to demonstrate value to potential host institutions. An example of value might be the way in which personal/family documents and correspondence show a different part of the story or side to formal records or bland, official documents. Materials might offer an opportunity to complement the picture or even show the more human side of official/government communication.
Document templates to help give context or support groups with contacting archives
Examples of collections policy (perhaps not just a cut and paste job but explain the content and rationale within such a policy from professionals’ point of view and what this might mean for groups seeking to meet criteria).
Things to know, consider and seek advice on if the material is politically sensitive (eg government classifications (‘secret’; ‘sensitive’), practices around censorship or sealing records
Template emails to possible host organisations
Template agenda for an introductory meeting with a possible host organisation
Glossary of terms to help groups understand the heritage sector better
Including but not limited to:
- Collections policy
- Freedom of Information
Tips on where it may be possible to go for money; who to ask and how.
If you have any further suggestions, please contact Kostas Arvanitis at firstname.lastname@example.org.