Minding our Business

Archive hour: discussing business records in crisis

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I took over as the committee’s social media officer towards the end of February and was immediately told my first responsibility was to host the #ArchiveHour we’d signed up to at the end of March. #panic. Luckily, we had guest hosts who had already agreed to take part and my role was mostly to remind everyone when it was so they could tune in, and to facilitate the questions and retweeting on the night.

Daily advertising tweets in the month prior, meant I noticed quickly when the best time of day to post was – during evening rush hour! It seems our followers like to catch up on their feeds on the way home. There were also milestones to hit, with 3, 2 and 1 weeks to go we announced our topic and guest hosts: Richard Wiltshire, Senior Archivist for Business Archives at the LMA and Kiara King, Archivist at the Ballast Trust.

As there was so much in the press about failing businesses at the time, including Toys R Us, Carpetright, Maplin and more, and our guest hosts are both members of the Crisis Management Team, it made sense to feature that.  Kiara and Richard worked together to write their questions and formulate some prepared answers to them, so they had time to focus on responding to other posters on the night.

There were six questions, and a bonus fun one. In total we had about 100 responses and engagements, and probably more people who watched but didn’t reply. Some of the questions allowed for info to be shared on current businesses at risk, and some were more open for suggestions as to how we could be better. Below are some of the highlights.

Q1 What are the current challenges around business records at risk?

Q2 How are cases going at the moment?

Q3 What is your personal favourite or worst experience dealing with business records at risk?

Q4 What can the sector and wider public do to help support records at risk?

Q5 What wider guidance tools are there? What have people found most helpful?

Q5b BONUS QUESTION! Every archivist has a record rescue kit, right? What’s in yours?

Q6 Any final good news stories?

I am pleased with the level of engagement we received on the night and hope that now the tweets are out there that it might, in a tiny way, help to make the cause more well known. There’s still a lot to do with the administrators though.

Behind the scenes, Richard’s set up was rather more planned than mine – a table was a great idea! I had my phone in one hand to post the questions, my iPad on my knee to retweet the responses and my G&T had a straw #handsfree.

A word from Richard:

It was great catching up with Kiara King and sharing our experiences with the wider world. Sometimes it can be very frustrating when you don’t hear back from administrators of failed businesses or when you are chasing an archive repository you’ve notified about a collection potentially at risk. It’s great to share these case studies about success, failure and receive reactions to such situations. We only ask that ALL think about potential archives at risk – get in touch with the Crisis Team for any advice. Insolvency practitioners need to do a lot more to safeguard our heritage than they do right now – let’s call it a duty of care to society. There’s no law to say they have to but let’s hope ARA, BAC and TNA make headway with the Insolvency Practitioners Association in drawing up a Code of Practice.

Since the #archivehour discussion we have received great news on Toys “R” Us and saving Geoffrey the Giraffe too and look forward to sharing that very soon. Thank you SBR #archivehour for the opportunity!

You’ll find a snapshot of the #archivehour discussion from @ricshire on the Crisis Team page and a further round up of the hour here.

Of course, we had great fun taking part and we hope it was interesting and engaging for those who joined in. @ARABusinessRec are back on the @ArchiveHour schedule for later in the year, so look out for us. It will be a rather less serious topic next time.

Jill Moretto

SBR Social Media Officer