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Internal Structure and Organisation & The Role of Archivist

Internal Structure and Organisation

Normally, an archival institution will divide its activities into four discrete groups, which can usefully be linked in the departmental structure. These are:
Search room & reference area Finding aids & publications

Preservation services

Internal Structure and Organisation

Repository: activities connected with

the reception of new archival material into

custody; the preservation of this material in storage; provision of equipment for this purpose; maintenance of the storage areas (the repository itself); administrative control of materials, especially arrangement of the materials, movement of materials into and out of the repository and from place to place within it; security of the repository.

Internal Structure and Organisation cont

Archival repository: A building or part of a building in which archives are preserved and made available for consultation. Also known as an archives.

Internal Structure and Organisation cont

Search room or reference area:

provision of facilities for users and

maintenance of the search room as a suitable environment for the consultation of archival materials; control of registration and conduct of users; procedures for ordering, issue and return of archival materials; provision and management of copying facilities.

Internal Structure and Organisation cont

Search room: The area in an archival repository open to users for the consultation of archives and the finding aids that relate to them. Also known as a reading room.

Internal Structure and Organisation cont

Finding aids and publications:

intellectual control of the holdings;
preparation and publication of a guide to the

holdings; research and analysis; preparation of lists, indexes and other finding aids; other publications; exhibitions and outreach activities.

Internal Structure and Organisation cont

Preservation services:
maintenance and monitoring of the

environmental conditions in the repository; conservation and repair facilities and programmes; copying and photographic equipment and programmes.

The Role of Archivist

Staffing Training

Staff in archival repositories are usually well motivated and willing. To translate these assets into achievement, the management structure must allocate clear tasks to each staff member, with responsibility and a share in the development of policy. There must also be a reporting and assessment programme that recognises good work and sets out attractive and realistic programmes for the future.

Staffing cont
All archivists on the staff should have a clearly defined set of duties. They should also have opportunities to contribute to the strategic planning of the service. Regular meetings of all professional and para-professional staff provide opportunities for them to make such contributions.

Staffing cont

The external context of the management structure ensures that the director of the archival facility will report to the overall head of the records and archives institution. Internally, the heads of departments and heads of regional archival facilities will report to the archival director. The department heads within each regional office will report to the head of that regional office, and the rest of the staff will report to their department heads, unless there are other established lines of command.

Staffing cont

A typical staffing structure might include the following posts. These offered as a general model that may be adapted to particular cases.

Staffing cont

Head of the records and archives institution:

the head of the whole service, including the

records offices, records centre and archival agency.

Staffing cont

Heads of the records offices, records centres and archival institutions:

the officers responsible for the management

and direction of the records offices, records centres or archival agency.

Staffing cont

Head of regional archival agencies or records centre operations:

the officer responsible for the management

and direction of a particular regional archives or records centre.

Staffing cont

Department heads in the archival agency, such as

head of preservation (the officer responsible

for all preservation and conservation services); head of reference (the officer responsible for reference and outreach services); head of records services (the officer responsible for supervising and coordinating records work with creating agencies).

Staffing cont

Staff in records offices, such as:

officers responsible for supervising and co-

ordinating records work within the agency and liaising with others within the overall records and archives institution.

Staffing cont

Note that throughout this module the term director is used generically to mean someone who directs (that is, controls) the organisation referred to; it is not intended to relate to any particular civil service or management grade or status.

Staffing cont

The following best practice guidelines are recommended for managing staff effectively and developing short- and longer-term plans.

Staffing cont
A formal written longer-term (strategic) plan for the archival institution should be drawn up. This strategy should be developed into formal written annual (business) plans or programmes for the institution and its departments and regional offices.

Staffing cont
These plans in turn should be converted into projects for departments, groups of staff or individual members of staff. These plans, programmes and projects should be developed on the basis of what is available as inputs (funds, staff resources, accommodation, equipment) and of what are agreed to be desirable outputs (what it is intended to achieve in the time allocated).

Staffing cont
All members of staff, whatever their seniority, should be given written job descriptions that show clearly their duties and responsibilities and written annual job plans that set out the specific tasks to be undertaken and the criteria for measuring their successful completion. All plans, programmes and projects should be monitored formally and informally on a regular basis.


Persons appointed to a post in the archival facility, whether or not they already possess a professional, paraprofessional or specialist qualification, must be trained in the specific policies and procedures of the archival institution.

Training cont

Such training programmes should be part of the overall management strategy, and they should contain elements to support professional or career development for all members of staff, whatever their grade.

Training cont

All new members of staff in public-sector archival facilities who are also new recruits to the civil service should be given all necessary information concerning appointment, pay, promotion, leave, pension, discipline and so on.

Training cont

All new members of archives staff should be given training on security, handling of documents and the use of the procedures manual. All training should emphasise the uniqueness and importance of the archives in their charge.