Since 2010 the activities of the Religious Archives Group have been guided by the Religious Archives Support Plan (RASP), and RAG has worked with The National Archives and other partners to implement this. The initial five year plan was guided by the priorities emerging from the 2010 Religious Archives Survey. Since then it has been updated as objectives were achieved and new priorities emerged. At its committee meeting of 15 January 2021, the latest five year plan for 2021-2025 was approved. The objectives of the plan are as follows
- To promote the heritage value and contemporary utility of archives and the importance of records management to faith communities, through publication and promotion of material, including the Letters of Support for Religious Archives from faith leaders, which explains why religious archives matter to faith communities.
- To provide support, through engagement and partnership projects, for faith traditions and communities which have emerged, or become established in significant numbers, since the twentieth century to develop their archives and raise awareness among their members of the importance of archives.
- To build, maintain and develop relationships with existing faith-based heritage structures and committees (as exist, for example, in the Church of England, Roman Catholic Church and Methodist Church), and – more generally – to ensure that religious archives benefit from stronger connections with broader heritage agendas within faith communities.
- To seek to develop links with local authority and higher education archive services holding nationally significant collections of religious archives, and with community archive initiatives that principally include religious content.
- To seek to develop links and partnerships with the academic user community and other researchers, and provide suitable opportunities to highlight and raise the profile of the rich resources that religious archives offer to researchers over a broad range of subject areas.
- To publish or highlight case studies which demonstrate the importance of religious records as sources for both national and local history, including for the study of secular topics.
DOCUMENTATION AND CUSTOMIZED ADVICE
- To work with The National Archives to continue to provide advice and information to religious archives bodies in respect of standards of care and archive management issues more generally, as part of its core business.
- To prepare, publish and maintain on the Religious Archives Group website online guidance for creators and curators of religious archives, and maintain ordered links to all relevant published guidance.
- To support non-professional archivists and volunteers working with religious archives through the provision of online guidance material and information, and offering training workshops (as resources permit); and, where possible, to encourage existing training providers to promote and/or customise their existing courses to meet the needs of such archivists.
- To encourage archive services to add information about their holdings of religious archives to The National Archives’ online cross-repository resource Discovery, and the JISC Archives Hub; and, where appropriate, to participate in Manage Your Collections in Discovery, thereby improving the accessibility of religious archives.
- To support The National Archives in its role of providing advice on suitable places of deposit to creators and owners of religious archives, by giving specialist advice and information as appropriate.
- To encourage established archive services to consider the acquisition of religious archives and personal papers of individuals of significance in faith communities, and offer advice on significance where appropriate.
- To monitor religious archives, including personal papers, believed to be at risk of dispersal, sale or destruction, to provide information on sources of advice and guidance in such cases, and to support appropriate advisory interventions.
- To improve documentation and knowledge of non-textual archives of religious interest, including hosting, maintaining and (as resources permit) updating the survey of high-level oral history audio-visual sources for religion.
- To monitor the representation of religion-related websites by the UK Web Archive maintained by the British Library, and highlight significant opportunities to extend its coverage.
- To maintain contact with The National Archives through (non-voting) representation of a suitable member of TNA staff on the Religious Archives Group committee. [NEW]
- To extend incrementally membership of the Religious Archives Group (through the JISCmail list) as the core community of interest for religious archives.
- To maintain and enhance the Religious Archives Group website as a principal portal for religious archives.
- To hold an annual conference focused on a subject of interest to religious archives holding bodies and those working with them.
- To assess suitable projects for which to seek funding, and to apply for, receive and disburse money for appropriate religious archives projects.
- At the conclusion of the time-span of this Support Plan, to showcase achievements and discuss the future developments within the religious archives sector, possibly through a meeting or event with stake-holders.