Application guidance

1. Name and address of applicant archive

Please provide the name and address of the organisation applying for a grant under the Archives Testbed fund.

2. Name and contact details of lead contact at archive service

Please provide the name and contact details for the person who is acting as the lead contact for this application. If different to the lead contact, please also include the name and job title of an authorised signatory to streamline future contract agreements.

3. Please describe your organisation and archive collection, including how your archive is managed, your access to professional archive expertise and how you make the archive accessible to people outside your organisation (maximum 500 words)

Archive services applying to the Archives Testbed fund need to be able to demonstrate some key eligibility criteria that provides assurance relating to how the organisation meets appropriate standards of collections management, has access to professional advice and support, and provides public access.

In your description of your organisation and archive, please make that sure you including the following:

  • Governance and structure – describe the type of organisation, and the governance and management structure in place
  • Staffing and access to professional archive expertise – describe who is responsible for caring for and managing the collection and state whether they have professional archive qualifications. If not, describe how you ensure your organisation receives appropriate professional advice and support to ensure the effective and responsible management of the collection.
  • Overview of archive collections – summarise the content of the archives held by the organisation
  • Access to the collection – describe how you make the collection accessible to people outside of the organisation

4. Please select the topic that your project is going to address

There are lots of ways in which archives can advance the sustainability of their own archival practice, while also inspiring their audiences and the wider sector. We have selected the four topics below to focus on in this round of funding. Proposed projects will need to address one of these topics.

The four topics:

Topic 1: Co-creation of sustainability-themed public outreach / community events

Through their collections, spaces, and expertise, archives have tremendous ability to engage with and inspire communities to action. By working with communities to co-create an event focussed around sustainability, we can help communities better understand how they can contribute to our sustainable future and show the value of such events for other archives to hold.

Topic 2: Collections risk management

Extreme temperatures and heavy rainfall are increasing with climate change which will impact the environmental conditions in our organisations and the risk of flooding to our collections for example. We will need to regularly update our collections risk management practices to ensure that they continue to be effective in protecting our collections whilst also being sustainable.

Topic 3: Sustainable digital preservation

Significant resources (e.g. energy, materials) are used in preserving digital collections. As we continue to strive for a sustainable future, decreasing the environmental impact of digital preservation practices is needed. While discussions within the sector will be needed around fundamental expectations and practices in this area, there are ways in which archives can make a difference to their own carbon footprint.

Topic 4: Going green: aligning archive strategy / business plans to the Sustainable Development Goals

For us to collectively achieve a sustainable future, sustainability in all its aspects needs to be integrated into decision-making at every level. By linking every aspect of our archival practice to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, we can build a better understanding of how we can help build a more sustainable future for ourselves and our communities. This oversight enables assessment of where we are now and where we can make improvements.

5. Sustainability: please describe how your idea aligns with the grant topic you have chosen in question 4. If possible, make reference to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals and the resources from the Our Collection Matters toolkit (maximum 500 words)

Projects will need to address one of the four topics listed in question 4 to be funded by the Archive Testbed Fund’s sustainability round. This round is in partnership with ICCROM’s Our Collections Matter initiative so projects must also use one or more resources from the free Our Collections Matter toolkit to help them in the process. Explaining which resources you will use in your project will strengthen your application but you do not have to supply this information at this point. The National Archives can help you choose additional suitable resources if your project is funded.

We have highlighted examples of resources that could be useful for each topic below to get you started, however you do not need to use these specific ones. Have a search through the toolkit yourself via the search bar and the themes for sustainable development (5 ‘P’s: People, Planet, Prosperity, Peace and Partnership).Remember that resources from other sectors may be useful to you, even if they weren’t created for archives specifically.

Resource examples for topic 1 (public outreach/events)
ICCROM’s INTER-COLLECT (Intergenerational Toolkit for Museum)

Good practices and methods for co-creation

Resource examples for topic 2 (collections risk management)
ICCROM’s Guide to Risk Management of Cultural Heritage

IFLA Disaster Preparedness and Planning: A brief manual

IPI’s Methodology for: Implementing Sustainable Energy-saving Strategies in collections environments

Resource examples for topic 3 (sustainable digital preservation)
Environmentally Sustainable Digital Preservation | ICCROM | Our Collections Matter

Resource examples for topic 4 (aligning archive strategy)
Green Archivist – Primer adopting affordable environmentally sustainable and socially responsible archival management practices

Mainstreaming the Sustainable Development Goals: a results framework for galleries, libraries, archives and museums | ICCROM | Our Collections Matter

The extent to which your chosen resources are used in your project will depend on your needs. You can apply as little or as much from the resources to your projects as needed to achieve your own goals for your own organisation. Together we will feedback to OCM on the toolkit and how helpful the resources were for your project.

The Our Collections Matter project uses the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. Curating Tomorrow’s ‘Museums and the Sustainable Development Goals’ identifies seven ways in which archives can contribute to these goals. You might want to look at the section starting on page 68 of Curating Tomorrow’s document for more information.

Please note that we don’t need you to be experts in sustainable development –we just want to see a project that has a realistic ambition against the challenges from Section 4 (above). Examples of potentially useful resources for each topic are listed in the guidance for that section.

Watch our webinar about the sustainability-themed round of the Archives Testbed Fund for more information.

6. Innovation: Please describe the idea you would like to test, explore or evolve

We would like to get a clear understanding of what your idea is and why your idea is innovative, new, different or vital in bringing about positive change and improvement. You may find considering the following questions helpful in putting together your answer:

  • Does the idea relate to creating a process, method, approach or project?
  • Does it solve a problem? What is the problem it is trying to solve?
  • Is the idea new?
  • Does it offer a new or different approach?
  • Is it unusual?
  • Is it unique?
  • Has it been tried before?
  • Is it an improvement on something that has been tried before?

7. Feasibility: Please describe how you intend to test, explore or evolve your idea (maximum 500 words)

The Archives Testbed fund would like to support projects and ideas that have a clear and well-planned methodology and approach. You should demonstrate an appropriate level of planning and show that you are aware of potential risks. You may like to consider the following questions when writing your answer:

  • How are you going to test or explore your idea?
  • Do you have a project plan?
  • What approach are you going to take to manage this process?
  • What methodology will you use?
  • How will you record the result and analyse any data or outcomes?
  • Have you considered any risks?
  • What will you do if your test or approach doesn’t go according to plan?

8. Impact: Please describe how your idea could lead to positive change or improvement in the way archives are understood, managed, accessed or used (maximum 500 words)

The Archives Testbed fund aims to support projects that have a positive impact on archive services. Please provide information about the impact that your project/test will have on your archive service. This may relate to improvement in the management of the archive service, improvements to access, improved efficiency or better service delivery, for example. We are particularly interested in supporting projects that provide transformative impact for the archive service, so please describe how your archive service might use the grant as a mechanism for further development in your organisation.

We are also very interested in projects that can demonstrate impacts more widely across the archive sector. In your response, please show how your idea will have wider applicability in the archive sector, who else might benefit from the project, and how you will ensure that the wider sector is aware of your project and can share in your learning experience.

9. How much are you requesting from the Archives Testbed Fund?

Please state how much you are requesting from the Archives Testbed fund. Note that the maximum grant is £10,000.

10. Please provide a breakdown of the costs of testing or exploring your idea

Please provide a brief breakdown of how you have calculated the costs of your project to test or explore an idea. This may include materials, staff resource, and technical expertise.

11. Please upload any organisational letters of support, project plans, policies or other resources that you feel would help the panel make their assessment.