Why archives are for everyone, #IAW2019

The theme for International Archives Week speaks directly to the work undertaken by the International Council on Archives (ICA) and the Forum of National Archivists (FAN) in advocating the unique value and impact of archives of all kinds. It also goes right to the heart of the strategic aspirations of The UK National Archives. Our new four-year strategy ‘Archives for Everyone’ is about who archives exist to serve, and why archives worldwide are obliged to be the best we can be.

To be a 21st Century national archive, we need to be: Inclusive, Entrepreneurial, Disruptive. The inclusive archive builds trust and tears down barriers to access, participation and understanding. The entrepreneurial archive is flexible and fearless, creating and realising value at home and across the globe. The disruptive archive changes everything, constantly adapts, rethinks and reshapes its practice to meet its contemporary and future challenges.

Like many national archives throughout the world, we believe that we are an essential resource that underpins our democracy. We are a public good and our collections are an asset for future generations. We also know that we have a lot of work to do to put people at the centre of what we do, and that this will take the collaboration of the entire global archive community. We also need to develop new skills and exploit emerging technology in order to become the institutions that truly represent everyone who encounters us.

We all have so much to learn from one another’s experiences and I’m very glad to see that this year’s campaign spans an entire week. If you haven’t already done so, do visit the ICA website to get involved in #IAW2019.

By Jeff James, Chief Executive and Keeper, The UK National Archives, President, Forum of National Archivists