Following the publication of the Religious Archives Survey in 2010, the Religious Archives Group (RAG) has worked with The National Archives (TNA) and other partners to implement a support plan for religious archives. A fixed-term post majoring on this support plan was established at TNA in 2012-2015 and it continues to have a member of staff responsible for continuing that work and liaising with RAG.
The main strands of the support plan (priorities which emerged from the 2010 religious archives survey, the 2011 consultative meeting, and other inputs, and revised in July 2014) are as follows:
2 To promote the heritage value and contemporary utility of archives (as well as the importance of modern records management) to faith communities, through
a) preparation of a general position paper which explains why religious archives matter to faith communities, and
b) specific partnership-based initiatives with particular communities (see 3).
3 To seek to develop an archival consciousness among faith traditions which have only emerged, or become established in significant numbers, during the past half-century, through a series of partnership projects (see 2), possibly commencing with the Muslim community.
4 To foster stronger links with local authority archives and community archive initiatives with a degree of religious content, and, where feasible, with the academic user community.
5 To identify upcoming significant religious anniversaries that could be used as a basis for promotional activities.
6 To optimise links with faith-based heritage structures and committees (as exist 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.
7 To provide timely press, media and communications support and advice to all the foregoing.
DOCUMENTATION AND CUSTOMIZED ADVICE (8-9)
8 TNA to continue to provide advice to religious archives, if requested by them, in respect of standards of repositories and archive management issues more generally, as part of its core business.
9 To prepare, publish and maintain on the RAG website online guidance for creators and curators of religious archives, and maintain ordered links to all relevant published guidance.
10 To broaden access to training courses for non-professional archivists working with religious archives, through encouraging existing training providers to promote and/or customise their existing courses, and other measures, to achieve an optimal balance of national and regional training.
11 To establish a brokerage and training service for volunteers in archives, religious or otherwise.
COLLECTION DEVELOPMENT (12-16)
12 To ensure the implementation of TNA’s new online cross-repository resource Discovery gives appropriate coverage to religious archives and explore options for online hosting of religious (and other) archival catalogues.
13 TNA to continue to provide advice on suitable places of deposit to creators and owners of religious archives, consulting RAG and other parties, as appropriate, and to ask major collecting institutions to consider the acquisition of personal papers of ‘religious’ individuals who are still living.
14 To monitor religious archives, including personal papers, found to be at risk of dispersal, sale or destruction, and to arrange appropriate advisory interventions, if necessary at short notice.
15 To undertake more systematic archiving of religion-related websites, both through the UKWA on a permissions basis and the Regulations under the Legal Deposit Libraries Act 2003.
16 To improve documentation and knowledge of non-textual archives of religious interest, including hosting, maintaining and updating the survey of high-level oral history audio-visual sources for religion.
18 To maintain the RAG website and expand it into a principal portal for religious archives.
20 At the conclusion of the current Support Plan, to arrange a meeting with potential core funders (major and minor) to showcase achievements and discuss the requirements of the religious archives sector.