Business Archives Council Conference 2015 – Katherine Chorley

This was my second Business Archives Council (BAC) Conference, but this time I was lucky enough to receive a bursary! I decided to apply for one of the bursaries as a last minute decision, when I realised that the conference was in my university’s reading week.

Having worked at the M&S Company Archive before starting out on my Archives and Records Management MA at UCL I’ve become really interested in business archives – the opportunity to learn more about them and do some networking with fellow professionals could not missed.

One of my favourite things about attending archive events is all the interesting places that we get to visit – the conference was held at The Prudential Assurance Company Building, Holborn Bars, which is very impressive. There was a shooting range on the roof of the building (no longer in use..!) and a giant CHUBB safe in the basement!

CHUBB safe

The theme of the conference was ‘Hunter Gatherers’ – primal as it sounds, it is often the main way business archivists get their hands on material for their archives. A series of talks and presentations throughout the day covered a range of collecting activities including collecting digital material and the helpful relationship between records management and archives. Practitioners sharing their experiences included speakers from The National Archives, Unilever, HSBC, the British Library, a former interviewer from the Life Stories Project, the Ballast Trust. My favourite talk was by John Porter of the Prudential Archive all about a game about the history of the Prudential Assurance Company that has been developed using the archive collection. You can explore the interactive website and find ‘The Man from the Pru’ game here:

John Porter talking about the Prudential game

It was so interesting to hear from such a wide range of speakers, all presented with different challenges in their everyday roles. The presentations were both informative and inspiring – it was so interesting and exciting to see all the fantastic work that goes into sustaining and justifying a business archive, and while it is hard work, it definitely pays off – it is always possible to sense a real passion, and justifiably, a sense of pride among a room of business archivists.

The day ended with group discussions about key challenges to collecting business archives. These included ensuring diverse and representative collections and collecting records from across the organisation.

In return for the bursary, which covered the attendance fee for the conference, the bursary winners were tasked with taking notes of the presentations so that they can be shared online for people who couldn’t make it on the day. We also did as much tweeting as we could, using the hashtag #BAC2015, for people to follow online, and were in charge of the roving microphones for when delegates had questions to ask or points to raise. Far from seeing these tasks as a burden, it was really satisfying to feel like we played a part in the running of the day. The conference was also a great opportunity to do some networking and catch up with archive friends and former colleagues.

I would definitely recommend attending the conference if you have an interest in what goes on in business archives, and even more so, apply for the bursaries!

BAC Conference 2015 Bursary Winners



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