Joint Information Systems Committee

Archives Sub-committee
of the
Non-formula funding (NFF) of Specialised Research Collections Initiative

Survey of needs

Consultancy report


Willpower Information

Willpower Information logo

January 1998

This report was originally prepared in August 1997 and in this revised form, incorporating additional analysis, in January 1998.

Leonard and Sheena Will
Willpower Information
27 Calshot Way
ENFIELD, Middlesex, EN2 7BQ
Telephone: 0181-372 0092
Fax: 0181-327 0094


List of tables

List of figures


1. Introduction and background

1.1 Background
1.2 Terms of reference

2. Methodology

2.1 Institutions to be included
2.2 Information to be collected
2.3 Survey procedure and questionnaire design
2.4 Pilot study
2.5 Dispatch and follow-up of questionnaire
2.6 Analysis

3. Results

3.1 Response rates
3.2 Contents of the archives
3.3 Cataloguing and listing
3.4 Storage
3.5 Conservation
3.6 Staffing
3.7 Staff accommodation
3.8 Reading room accommodation
3.9 Use: reader visits, enquiries and production units delivered
3.10 Perceived priorities
3.11 Comments from respondents

4. Conclusions

4.1 Cataloguing
4.2 Accessions
4.3 Networking
4.4 Storage
4.5 Conservation
4.6 Accommodation for staff and users
4.7 Factors limiting use

5. References

6. Acknowledgements

7. Appendix 1: Questionnaire, accompanying notes and covering letter

8. Appendix 2: Lists of institutions to which the questionnaire was sent

8.1 Institutions included in the detailed analysis
8.2 Institutions not included in the detailed analysis



Table 1: Response rates to questionnaire

Table 2: Types of archive included in responses

Table 3: Extent and growth of institutional archives

Table 4: Extent and growth of holdings

Table 5: Acquisition and retention policy

Table 6: Correlation between presence of professional staff and existence of an acquisition and retention policy

Table 7: Correlation between receipt of Non-Formula Funding for archives and existence of an acquisition and retention policy

Table 8: Form of collection-level catalogue records

Table 9: Estimated extent of holdings catalogued in accordance with each standard

Table 10: Total extent of holdings catalogued at each level

Table 11: Form of catalogue records at lower than collection-level

Table 12: Numbers of institutions with any indexing at the specified levels

Table 13: Percentage of holdings (by extent) indexed at the specified levels

Table 14: Numbers of institutions using or planning to use standards for names

Table 15: Availability of catalogue data remotely from the archive

Table 16: Area and fullness of archival stores

Table 17: Availability of BS5454

Table 18: Numbers of institutions having any material stored in monitored and stable conditions

Table 19: Percentage (by extent) of total holdings stored in monitored and stable conditions

Table 20: Numbers of institutions assessing their storage accommodation as falling in each category

Table 21: Percentage (by extent) of total holdings in various states of conservation

Table 22: Whether condition has been assessed by an archival conservator (numbers of responses)

Table 23: Whether a condition survey has been done (numbers of responses)

Table 24: Existence of conservation facilities (numbers of responses)

Table 25: Use of external conservation services (numbers of responses)

Table 26: Numbers and types of staff posts in 1997 and 1992

Table 27: Numbers of institutions with different categories and numbers of conservation staff

Table 28: Availability of archival staff office

Table 29: Office accommodation for archives staff

Table 30: Availability of archival staff workroom

Table 31: Workroom accommodation for archives staff

Table 32: Sharing of work areas and equipment with library

Table 33: Types of archival reading area

Table 34: Floor area and number of places in archival reading area

Table 35: Numbers of reader visits per year

Table 36: Numbers of enquiries per year

Table 37: Numbers of production units delivered per year

Table 38: Total numbers of marks given in each category for factors limiting use



Figure 1: Distribution of sizes of holding

Figure 2: Collection level cataloguing

Figure 3: Standards and formats used for collection-level records

Figure 4: Series level cataloguing

Figure 5: File level cataloguing

Figure 6: Item level cataloguing

Figure 7: Items calendared

Figure 8: Proportions catalogued for FB HEIs with and without NFF

Figure 9: Proportions catalogued for all institutions with and without professional staff

Figure 10: Relationship between size of holdings and proportion catalogued at file or item level

Figure 11: Fullness of stores vs. extent of holdings

Figure 12: Aspects of storage accommodation - average assessments

Figure 13: Aspects most needing improvement to comply with BS5454

Figure 14: Numbers of institutions employing professional archival staff in 1992 and 1997

Figure 15: Numbers of institutions categorised by number of full-time equivalent professional archival staff

Figure 16: Numbers of institutions employing non-professional archival staff in 1992 and 1997

Figure 17: Numbers of institutions categorised by number of full-time equivalent non-professional archival staff

Figure 18: Floor area per reader place

Figure 19: Working table surface per reader place

Figure 20: Reading area occupation rates

Figure 21: Numbers of reader visits per year

Figure 22: Numbers of enquiries per year

Figure 23: Relationship between extent of holdings and number of enquiries per year

Figure 24: Number of production units delivered per year

Figure 25: Relationship between extent of holdings and number of production units delivered per year

Figure 26: Factors limiting the use of archives, in order of importance for FB HEIs

Figure 27: Aspects most needing improvement to increase accessibility and use



A postal questionnaire survey was carried out in July-August 1997 of holdings of archives in UK higher education institutions, excluding the institutions' own archives that had been surveyed previously.

185 questionnaires were returned out of a possible 291, an overall response rate of 64%. For those institutions directly funded by funding body supported higher education institutions (FB HEIs), and which were also listed in British Archives as holding non-institutional archives, the response rate was 96 out of a possible 110, or 87.3%. This report is based on the 128 returned questionnaires that gave details of archives within the scope of the survey.

The main conclusions were as follows:

Holdings and accommodation

Cataloguing and indexing



1. Introduction and background

1.1 Background

The background statement provided by the JISC monitoring programme for the Specialised Research Collections in the Humanities initiative reads as follows:

"In 1994 the Higher Education Funding Bodies of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland invited submissions for non-recurring and recurring non-formula funding of specialised research collections in the humanities following the Follett Review of Academic Libraries which reported in December 1993. A joint panel was established under the chairmanship of Professor Martin Harris to establish the criteria for funding and, after evaluating submissions, to make recommendations for funding.

In keeping with the panel's recommendations funding was focused in the areas of conservation, cataloguing of collections (in a format suitable for access over the network) and preservation. Recurring funding was also made available for enhancing access to collections through publicity for or development of the collections or support for user-related services. Funding was made available on condition that institutions honoured commitments to provide access to collections for external researchers on the same conditions as applied to researchers within the institution and that the collections being funded were of importance to research.

A project co-ordinator was appointed to oversee the programme in October 1995 and subsequently the Humanities NFF Committee and the Archives Sub-committee were set up to monitor the progress on the projects and to make recommendations on additional activities. As part of the work of the Archives Sub-Committee it has been agreed that a survey of cataloguing, conservation and preservation needs should be undertaken."

A survey of higher education institutions' own institutional archives had been carried out earlier in 1997 by TFPL Ltd., but the report was not available in time to be taken account of in this survey. At the same time as this survey, the Public Record Office was working on a "Mapping Project" to survey levels of provision in local archive services throughout England and Wales.

1.2 Terms of reference

  1. To gain an overview of the proportion of holdings for which:
  2. To gain an overview of the average volume of new accessions per annum
  3. To gain an overview of the extent of cataloguing/editorial work that is required before existing catalogues can be networked, including a review of the implementation of ISAD(G).
  4. To review the general adequacy of storage space and whether it is broadly in line with BS5454.
  5. To gain a general overview of preservation and conservation needs including the adequacy of packaging, the volume of material in need of significant work and/or unfit for production.
  6. To gain an overview of the adequacy of reading room space and office accommodation.
  7. The survey is to be carried out over a four month period and the final report due by the end of September 1997.

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