University's Archive Service achieves national accreditation
23 November 2023
The University of Reading Special Collections and The Museum of English Rural Life have been awarded Archive Service Accreditation.
Accredited Archive Services ensure the long-term collection, preservation and accessibility of our archive heritage. Accreditation is the UK quality standard which recognises good performance in all areas of archive service delivery. Achieving accredited status demonstrates that the University of Reading has met clearly defined national standards relating to management and resourcing; the care of its unique collections and what the service offers to its entire range of users.
The archives service at the University of Reading cares for a vast array of collections of local, national and international importance. The extraordinary scale (around 30,000 archive boxes and 80,000 volumes) and range of the Special Collections make them a pre-eminent research resource for the history of publishing and the book trade. The archive not only covers headline literary figures such as James Joyce and Samuel Beckett, it is also a repository for tens of thousands of illustrations and artworks and includes the major political archives of The Astor family and William Henry Smith. In addition, the archives of The Museum of English Rural Life are a leading resource for the study of the history of British agriculture, the countryside and rural society. The MERL holds archives of national organisations the NFU, Council for Protection of Rural England and Open Spaces Society as well as farm records, rural photographs and engineering drawings.
The Accreditation Panel which made the award “…congratulated this impressive archive service on their ongoing high level of delivery, ambitious forward planning, excellent digital development work and ongoing strong work on outreach. They were pleased to see innovation in inclusive language and remote access, and that the service was also able to undertake strong collections management review work and to establish onsite collection care.”
Guy Baxter, Head of Archive services, said: "Achieving this recognition is not something that happens overnight. It requires a long-term commitment from a group of people who constantly try to improve the service for students, researchers and the wider public. Their passionate approach to caring for our collections and making them accessible is what underpins this achievement. I am privileged to work with colleagues who are confident in their ability to manage a complex range of archives but also open to new ideas, opportunities and collaborations."
Further information about Archive Accreditation
Archive Service Accreditation is the UK standard for archive services. It defines good practice and identifies agreed standards within the archive sector. It is a UK wide quality standard which offers a benchmark for gauging performance, recognising achievement and driving improvement within the archives sector. Archive Service Accreditation is awarded by the UK Archive Service Accreditation Committee, representing the entire archive sector.
Archive Service Accreditation is supported by a UK-wide partnership of The National Archives, National Records of Scotland, Public Record Office of Northern Ireland, the Welsh Government through its Culture Division, Archives and Records Association (UK & Ireland), Scottish Council on Archives, and Archives and Records Council Wales.
An accredited archive service is:
Externally recognised for their good performance in all aspects of governance and management, collections management , and provision of services to all users
Sustainable and robust, ensuring the long term acquisition, preservation and accessibility of our archive heritage
Adaptive, relevant and resilient in a changing internal and external environment
Clear about their mission, ensuring effective planning, decision making and optimal use of resources
Responsive to all their stakeholders and trusted in the management of their unique collections