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The best place to find out about our main activities and projects ongoing for this year is in the Business Plan. We also post the most up-to-date information on the website. However, below is a brief summary of what we have been up to over the past few months.

Opening Up Scotland’s Archives (Skills for the Future)

SCA has received support from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) under its Skills for the Future programme for the ‘Opening Up Scotland’s Archives’ project. The project aims to improve skills and service delivery within the Scottish archives sector through the provision of 18 traineeships between 2014 and 2017.

Cohort Two
Cohort Two’s traineeships finished in August, and a farewell event was held in Edinburgh to mark the occasion. The six trainees each gave presentations about their very busy, very varied yearlong placements. Certificates and presentations were made by Tim Ellis, Keeper of the National Records of Scotland, and Gillian Findlay, from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Many of Cohort Two have found employment or are pursuing further study in the area of archives and record management. Michael MacKinnon is working at the new National Library of Scotland at Kelvin Hall; Naomi Harvey is studying for a PhD in Sound Archives; Anabel Farrell is an Archive Assistant at the University of Oxford; and Gary Thomas is an Archives Assistant, digitising Aberdeen Journals’ collection. We wish all our trainees every success for their future.

Cohort Three
Cohort Three all began their placements in September and are settling in well. They attended an induction at General Register House, Edinburgh. Alongside the bureaucratic necessities of the day, we were delighted to welcome Hazel de Vere and Saho Arakawa from the conservation division of the National Records of Scotland, who provided a practical workshop on handling archival materials.

In early November the trainees will be joining their English counterparts at the National Archive in Kew for Basecamp.

You can find out more about each trainee and follow their development here.

We are also delighted to announce that the Skills for the Future project has been shortlisted for a Digital Preservation Award. On 11 October Victoria Brown (SCA Programmes and Development Manager) and Dr Melinda Haunton, (Acting Head of Programmes, Programme Manager, TNA) attended the judging panel for the NCDD Award for Teaching and Communications in London. The winner will be accounted at a ceremony on 30 November.

Education – Strategy

Following a full review of the progress and achievements of the three year National Plan for Learning, in January 2016 we launched the SCA Education Workshop and Training review survey aimed at those who have attended the majority of Education workshops offered across 2013-15. Douglas Roberts, the SCA Education Officer, has now synthesised results, and the executive summary of his resulting report can be found here.

The survey revealed that the existing education programme show that SCA has a vital continuing role in supporting archivists in Scotland in the development of effective archives education and outreach programmes. Subsequently, the Education Committee have identified the following priorities for the next three years:

  1. to raise awareness of the ways in which archivists and archive materials are making essential contributions to education in schools and communities in Scotland
  2. to facilitate collaboration and deliver the training and resources required to allow archivists to develop and deliver relevant education and outreach programmes
  3. to facilitate partnerships and foster effective communication between individuals and organisations to build on and expand existing good practice within archive services, and to open up opportunities to those with limited experience of delivering education and outreach to their local schools and communities.  

In the period 2016-2019 the Committee recommends undertaking a programme of activities in pursuit of these three amended objectives, with emphasis in the first twelve months on:

  • Building online and interpersonal networks
  • Facilitating creative collaboration and partnerships
  • CPD and Skills Development
  • Delivery of quality online resources and exemplars
  • Raising awareness of existing good practice

As in the 2012-2015 programme, regular consultation and feedback would be sought and continuous review of the programme undertaken by the Committee to ensure relevance and effectiveness.

Education – James Maxton Project

In September, Douglas presented a seminar on the James Maxton project, alongside Glasgow City archivists Nerys Tunnicliffe and Michael Gallagher, at the prestigious Scottish Learning Festival. This was an excellent opportunity to showcase this collaboration between SCA, Glasgow City Archives and Education Scotland, and the broader applications of archival material to education.

The Maxton Project lesson plans will be made available on the SCA website early in the new year.

Education – Community Engagement Workshops

This Autumn SCA has offered two discrete outreach workshops:

• Sight and Sound (26.10.2016): This event looked at creative approaches to using archives in Learning and Outreach programmes, specifically focussing on the use of graphic arts and collage, and using sound recording and mixing to explore archives.
• Oh, What a Creative War (09.11.2016): A practical and collaborative workshop focused on World War One records. Limited places are still available, and you can register here (until 02.11.2016)


The ‘After the Flood’ event that immediately proceeded the Annual Members’ Meeting, proved very popular and was warmly received by delegates. Speakers from the National Trust for Scotland, Harwell, and the National Centre for Resilience gave talks on lessons learned and key issues around disaster response in the event of flooding. Feedback indicated that it was a very useful and informative event. The inclusion of the National Centre of Resilience, a newly founded government agency, proved very rewarding, and may prove to be a fruitful collaboration.

Papers and details of the event are now available on the SCA website. Additional flooding guidance and links to useful sites have also been added to the planning section of the Preservation pages of the SCA website.

In January the SCA distributed a Preservation and Conservation Survey across the sector. The survey content and questions were aligned with the Archive Service Accreditation standard to discern not only the priorities of the Committee’s work upcoming, but to ensure that resources are focused on assisting services with elements of preservation and conservation relevant to preparations for meeting the requirements of the standard.

A report on the findings of the survey has been created by the Preservation Committee, and the executive survey has been published on the SCA website, here. A copy was also sent to the Cabinet Secretary for her reference.

Leadership Development Workshops

Following on from the very popular workshops run earlier in 2016, the SAC is delighted to announce that a new training event will take place in November. This workshop will enable archive sector leaders in Scotland to set up and run Action Learning Sets. This is a proven and powerful way of working with your peers to overcome workplace challenges, achieve objectives, develop new skills and learn about yourself and about others. Action Learning Sets are the most cost effective approach to learning and development.  They are especially valuable in the current climate as they help to overcome many of today’s common challenges.

The workshop will comprise a collection of practical activities designed to help delegates develop new skills, behaviours and plans. These exercises will be supported by explanations and group reflection.

This programme has been developed for the Scottish Council on Archives by STAR CIC, a not-for-profit community interest company dedicated to driving resilience and excellence in the cultural heritage sector. Find out more at:

The workshop will be taking place in both Edinburgh (16.11.2016) and Glasgow (17.11.2016) in the hopes that as many attendees will be able to benefit from this process as possible.

To register and for more information please click here.

SCA Records Retention Schedules (SCARRS)

SCARRS is a tool that maps the typical records generated in support of the business activities of Scottish local authorities. It identifies statutory and regulatory retention periods for those records where these exist and suggests typical retention periods based on common practice and/or business requirements where statutory and regulatory periods do not exist.

We work regularly to ensure that SCARRS provides the most up-to-date information. In addition to monitoring both Scottish and UK-wide legislative developments, we also listen directly to the sector. If you have been using SCARRS and noted any errors, required amendments or additions, we want to hear from you. Please submit your feedback via email to If you are commenting on an existing record series, please provide the reference number from the schedule.

The latest review of SCARRS was undertaken in October 2016 and published at The changes were minor and included:

  • Added series 06.001.09- 06.001.15 under Burial and Cremation (Scotland) Act 2016 and added notes to related series to Schedule 6 Cemeteries and Crematoria
  • Merged 04.005.059 into series 04.005.058. Added series 04.005.75 to .79 to Schedule 4 Consumer Affairs

Towards Sharing Collecting Policies

Following on from consultation with archive services, encouraging the sharing of information and providing a central information hub for collecting policies has been highlighted as something the Scottish Council on Archives can facilitate for the benefit of the sector.

The SCA is now seeking to establish an information hub for collecting policies across Scotland. A survey was devised and distributed across the archive services in July, and remains open here.

The SCA has continued to receive very positive feedback about this project, including from the Society of American Archivists who are embarking on a similar project.

Scots-Italians Community Map

In August, the SCA was approached by Dr Carlo Pirozzi, of the University of St Andrews, about supporting his funding proposal to create an interactive map of the Scottish-Italian communities of Scotland. His project will map the legacy of Italian migration to Scotland, by creating an interactive map to document the heritage of Scots Italians and their descendants within local communities. The map will show records, places, and people in each locality, illustrating the influence of Scot’s Italians across the nation. He is also recording a series of oral histories which will be displayed alongside.

Dr Pirozzi’s idea is to establish a resource that will highlight the diversity of documents and stories that are held in Scotland’s collections. This resource will be of use to researchers, genealogists, tourists, and local history groups. It is also hoped that in time the model of the map can be replicated for other migrants who settled in Scotland, such as the Polish community.

The SCA is supporting his work by canvassing services for information about records in their collections relating to Scots-Italians. The survey has had a number of fruitful contributions; the survey can be found here, if you would like to add your collection’s details.