Frances Lund and Keri Nicholson describe their experiences at the Archive and Records Association Training day, held on 13th February at The Carriageworks in Leeds.
As new members of the committee this was our first visit to an officer’s day, and our first real chance to meet members of the board as well as fellow colleagues from other sections and from the regions and nations.
After a brief welcome from Anna Siddall and Justin Cavernelis-Frost, who had organised the day, the programme was formally started with a talk by Henrietta Hopkins of Creative Capacity. This looked at change management, and how best to deal with it, linked to changes brought about by the formation of ARA but also in relation to the many changes likely to be happening in individual work places.
There were then a number of briefings from board members about strategic priorities for ARA over the coming year. John Chambers gave an update on the overall work of ARA, particularly on the growing advocacy role required as local authorities are increasingly targeting archive services as a possible place to make savings. Of particular interest for new professionals was his update on the new CPD framework, which will be relevant at all levels of experience, including pre-qualification, and will to a certain extent also replace the existing registration scheme. He also spoke briefly about internship and about the range of bursaries which are available to ARA members.
Lizzy Baker spoke about the core training programme, stressing that it should supplement the training being offered by the regions and sections, not replace it, and encouraging individuals to apply for the free places which are available for all core training courses. Marie Owens talked about the success of Explore Your Archives, and the review and planning which is now starting to prepare for the 2014 campaign. Finally, Anna Siddall spoke briefly about the membership review, a process which is still ongoing.
After a morning spent listening keenly to updates from across ARA, everyone welcomed the chance to break for lunch and network with colleagues. Being first time Officers Day attendees, it was great to meet other Officer’s from different sections and hear their thoughts on the latest ARA developments.
The afternoon sessions began in earnest, with all delegates being split into two groups for the parallel sessions, the theme of the afternoon being ‘communication’. The group which was centred specifically on communication discussed the various ways that we interacted, both within our committees and with our members, and gave feedback on the communication received from the ARA board. The other session was entitled ‘stakeholder spaghetti’. This proved to be enjoyable and challenging for all involved as we attempted to make sense of who our stakeholders are and the overlapping categories they fall into. A couple of times it did become a little tangled like spaghetti!
The second part of the afternoon we were divided up again for two further parallel group sessions. One group learned about the new ARA Officer’s Handbook, designed to give guidance to anyone volunteering for the Association. This offered an excellent opportunity to give feedback on the handbook based on our collective practical experience. The other group was a Chairs networking session. This was an opportunity for all the ARA section Chairs to share their thoughts and opinions on how the member review impacts their section and ultimately, our roles as section Chairs. There was a lively and positive discussion on the ways in which ARA can support us to carry out our roles and also how we can best support each other.
The Officer’s Day offered a really good opportunity to meet other professionals and to learn more about the priorities of the ARA over the coming year. We came away from the day with a feeling of achievement – at being better equipped to deal with the challenges ahead – and with a renewed sense of purpose to play our part in ARA and anticipation at what is to come.
Keri Nicholson, SfNP Co-Communications Officer
Frances Lund, SfNP Co-Chair