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Programme resources and delivery

The evaluation of Plugged In, Powered Up highlighted that a number of the programme’s resources were popular. The online digital learning platform, Novice to Know-How, in particular ‘is recognised as having made a significant contribution to awareness of digital preservation across the archives sector.’ The course has been completed to date by more than 2500 learners from over 56 countries. It is not surprising that this secured the highest response to this question with 123 respondents (73%) having undertaken the course.

Other highlights:

  • 60% of respondents had made use of the digital engagement toolkit
  • 55% had made use of the digital preservation workflows
  • Just over a third (34%) had attended an event organised by the Digital Archives Learning Exchange (DALE).

The 2022 results vary quite significantly from the 2019 survey. In 2019 the average figure was 34%, with National Library (58%), Charity archives (53%) and business archives (43%) reporting figures above this. Those scoring below the average in 2019 were Higher Education (33%), Local Authority archives (32%) and Museum or gallery (28%).


Preservation attitudes

The 2022 responses are much more positive than the responses in 2019 on preservation attitudes within organisations. It is not surprising that in today’s challenging economic climate that the question about adequate funding lags a long way behind questions relating to commitment, a digital preservation strategy and clear responsibilities for digital preservation within the organisation.

Digital preservation practice

The 2022 responses suggest that a greater percentage of institutions are storing their content in multiple locations and undertaking regular fixity checks. Protecting digital control using access restrictions remains just over 60% which implies that just under 40% are either applying such controls or are unaware that such measures have been implemented with their digital content.

Unfinished business

Evidence from the evaluation exercise showed improvement, whilst also acknowledging some unfinished business in key areas:

Skills development

  • Only 19% of archives say they have a complete digital asset register (41% say no or don’t know)
  • 58% of respondents disagree or strongly disagree that their postgraduate course prepared them for the digital demands of their role. This is 40% for the most recent graduates. Although this is the lowest ever figure, it is still quite high
  • 43% respondents had sufficient expertise to fulfil the digital requirements of their role.

Leadership and advocacy

  • There is a sustained recruitment challenge, with 19% previously reporting an issue recruiting to digital posts. This has now risen to 32%
  • Only 28% agree there is a high quality of digital leadership in their organisation and that good digital decisions are made
  • Two-thirds of respondents said that the key barrier was that of time.

Sustainability and inclusiveness

  • There is continued poor understanding of topics such as accessibility
  • Enthusiasm for the digital inclusion agenda is not supported by activity
  • There is evidence of a widening gap between best and worst preservation performers.

Looking ahead

Whilst excellent progress has been made over the last three years; we must continue to focus on developing and growing digital capacity within the archives sector. We become more resilient with greater digital capacity and are better able to serve our communities. Digital capacity:

  • Safeguards the digital record
  • Makes archives more sustainable
  • Produces a wide, national community of practice
  • Gets better outcomes for local and research communities.

This strategy will continue to build upon several of the successful workstreams delivered by Plugged in Powered Up, as well as developing new targeted support.

Continuing programmes include:

  • Novice to Know-How (N2KH)
  • Peer mentoring
  • Digital Archive Learning Exchange (DALE)
  • Supporting new routes into the sector (Level 7 Apprenticeships)
  • More strategic promotion of existing digital resources

Areas of new targeted support:

The evaluation of Plugged In, Powered Up identified themes where there is work still to be done, which we will target with Our Digital Century. These centre on:

  • Leadership: a focus on digital leadership, ensuring leaders are equipped with the necessary skills to lead and embed digital change within their organisation
  • Sustainability: targeted work on the carbon footprint of archive services ensuring the necessary understanding of emission types and what activities contribute heavily to emissions
  • Inclusiveness: working towards good practice on reducing digital exclusion so archives can serve their communities in the most inclusive way
  • Evidence-based support: creating and delivering resources based on identified areas of need. This includes the continuation of already established programmes of support and the development of new support in key areas, including advocacy and leadership.