- Collection care
- Information and records management
- Digital preservation
- What to keep
- Reform of public bodies
- Public inquiry guidance
- Information principles
1. Who selects records for preservation?
The National Archives has a leadership role in the selection of public records for preservation. It formulates policy in conjunction with government departments and provides guidance on selection decisions.
Selection work is undertaken by staff in departments and agencies across government. The National Archives has a team of staff who supervise selection and records management work.
When public records are offered to other institutions, those institutions will be involved in determining the selection criteria for the records, subject to existing published guidance. If a place of deposit wishes to destroy or transfer elsewhere some of its deposited public records, it must first consult The National Archives as this requires the approval of the Lord Chancellor. If an institution receiving presented public records decides to destroy or transfer elsewhere some of the records it has been offered, The National Archives should be consulted to ensure that no other organisation would wish to take the records.
2. What role do places of deposit play in decisions about which public records should be permanently preserved?
The exact nature of the role played by places of deposit may vary depending on local circumstances and the criterion under which the records are being deposited. However, as a general rule places of deposit will be consulted as to the selection criteria to be applied and may play an active role in developing and implementing the criteria. The National Archives is also willing to consider proposals to hold material in a surrogate form instead of preserving the original records.
3. Are there restrictions on the type of institution that can be a place of deposit?
With few exceptions, places of deposit must be organisations operating within the broad framework of the public sector. The appointed custodian must have unfettered access to the deposited public records. Constitutional changes may affect place of deposit status - please consult Archives Sector Development if in doubt.
4. For English and Welsh regional records, how will a region be defined?
Although different government departments have in the past adopted different regional boundaries, most regional bodies now adopt the same boundaries as those of the Regional Development Agencies.
In terms of disposition decisions any record series straddling more than two of the historic counties will have regional characteristics and will be treated in accordance with the considerations set out in Appendix 2 of the Acquisition and Disposition Strategy.
5 .What are the Regional Archive Councils and why does The National Archives propose to consult them about the disposition of regional public records?
The Regional Archive Councils comprise professional archivists, colleagues from the library and museum domains, and representatives of different user groups.
The National Archives proposes to consult the RACs or similar regional bodies before any major distribution of regional records is contemplated. Because the RACs will have first-hand knowledge concerning the capacity of local archive services to take in major regional record series, the location of related non-public record material and the needs of users within the region, their views will carry significant weight when final decisions about the distribution of regional public records are taken.
6. Can places of deposit charge for access to deposited public records?
The Public Records Acts 1958 and 1967 raise no legal impediment to charging for access to public records. A few places of deposit do charge for access to their original archive material, including public records, but this practice is not widespread. In line with government policy, The National Archives has no plans to introduce charging for access to original historical records in its public search rooms at Kew, and strongly encourages other archives to follow suit.
7. Does the strategy address the issue of central government funding for deposited public records kept in places of deposit?
The objective of the strategy is to provide a clear and stable framework for the disposition of UK public records in the long-term. There is no allocation of central government funds for deposited public records selected for permanent preservation because there is no provision for such funding under the Public Records Acts. Some places of deposit (for example, national museums and galleries) are already funded directly by central government. There is no statutory requirement that places of deposit must accept a particular class of public record when it is offered to them.
8. Are places of deposit permitted to charge the relevant government department or agency for the early transfer of public records?
Some places of deposit, especially in the local authority sector, accept public records from a government department/agency before they have been selected for permanent preservation. It is permissible in these circumstances for places of deposit to charge the department/agency for the storage of, and the retrieval of information from, semi-current public records. The level of charging for different services is a matter for negotiation between the place of deposit and the department/agency, which may also wish to consider commercial storage for their semi-current records as an alternative to early transfer. If an institution voluntarily relinquishes its role as a place of deposit and transfers the public records created by its parent authority to another place of deposit, then the question of charging for the storage of these records is entirely a matter for negotiation between the organisations concerned. An example of this would be a health authority which decided to transfer its historical archives to the relevant local archive service.
9. What should institutions which have received records as a presentation under s3(6) of the Public Records Act do if they wish to dispose of the presented material?
Institutions which have received a presentation of public records and which now wish to destroy them or to transfer them to another repository must first contact the National Advisory Service at The National Archives. They should provide a description of the records and a full explanation of the proposal to dispose of them. The National Archives will ascertain whether or not another institution would wish to receive the records; if no other institution is identified then the records may be destroyed.