Archives matter

This article charts the evolution of the UK government’s ambitious vision for the archive sector, Archives Unlocked. It traces the evolution of that vision from the roots of the audience-focused strategy of the UK National Archives, Archives Inspire. The authors place a particular emphasis on the process of co-creation and the emergence of the key strategic themes of trust, enrichment and openness. These global themes are brought to life by inspiring case studies and think-pieces while also being supported by a concrete action plan focused on clear deliverables and outcomes that will have the greatest impact. The authors argue that the archive sector is going through a paradigm shift from paper to digital, while observing that digital technology presents as many opportunities as it does challenges. The article reflects on what it means to be a disruptive digital archive and how this challenges some of the established norms of archival practice while also making the case for greater collaboration; arguing that the challenges and opportunities facing the sector can only be met by enhanced partnership working at the local, regional, national and international level. The authors believe that the approach adopted will not only allow archival content, in whatever format, to continue to enrich people’s lives but also change the way that people think about archives.