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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 Three

Cohort Three are now firmly established in their traineeships. They have also been afforded the opportunity to visit the host collections of their trainee colleagues, and some further afield. The trainees proactively organised their own visit to the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow at the end of October. They have also visited the new National Library of Scotland facility in Kelvin Hall, and the National Galleries of Scotland collection in Edinburgh. Most recently, Catherine Hollebrandse, Traditional Skills trainee at the Special Collections division of St Andrews University Library, shared her host collection with the other trainees.

The trainees also undertake a variety of training opportunities and have recently commenced the modules through the Centre of Archive and Information Studies, at Dundee University. In November, the trainees also teamed up with their English counterparts at the National Archive in Kew, for TNA Basecamp: an intensive, week-long introduction to all things archival and records management. Penny Wright, one of two digital preservation trainees based at NRS, commented that ‘they left Kew with vast quantities of information to ingest and a tangible network of teammates in the rest of the trainees.’ This network and camaraderie will be augmented at Edinburgh Basecamp in March.

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

Digital Preservation Coalition Award

We are delighted to announce that the Opening Up Scotland’s Archives: Skills for the Future project won the NCDD Award for Teaching and Communications at this year’s DPC Awards. has been shortlisted for a Digital Preservation Award. We were equally delighted to share the award with the National Archives sister programme, Transforming Archives.

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.

Both workshops were positively received by attendants, however the uptake was slightly disappointing based on previous training events. The SCA have canvassed opinions from across the sector to help shape future workshops, and these will be announced in due course.


The continued value and importance of the work of our Preservation committee has been emphasised by the demand for our recent workshops on disaster planning. The two events, Writing Your Disaster Plan (24 January) and Testing Your Disaster Plan (2 March), sold out in record time and have drawn interest from across the sector in Scotland, and into the north of England: delegates came from Stornoway to Leeds to attend the day. Preservation is very much of interest to members and we will continue to develop this area.

The Disaster Plan training was delivered by Emma Dadson of Harwell, ably assisted by SCA trustee, and convenor of the Preservation committee, Linda Ramsay of NRS. Feedback for this event has been very positive, with attendees finding the advice useful and instructive.

Harwell have also agreed a discount on their Priority User Service for SCA Members, details can be found here.

Leadership Development Workshops

Following on from the very popular workshops in the spring of 2016, the SAC is delighted to announce that a new training event, originally planned for November, will now take place in March. 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 (29.03.17) and Glasgow (30.03.17) in the hopes that as many attendees will be able to benefit from this process as possible. Places are still available, and funding through the Cadell Bursary has also been made available to attendees.

To register and for more information please click here.

Archives and Records Management Service Quality Improvement Tool (ARMS)

ARMS is a flexible self-assessment tool specifically designed for archives and records management services and is jointly delivered by the Scottish Council on Archives and Quality Scotland. The ARMS framework offers support to any service wishing to continuously improve their service delivery, particularly organisations preparing to meet the requirements of the Public Records (Scotland) Act 2011 and the Archives Accreditation Standard.

The ARMS tool puts you in control of the evaluation process. Users of the ARMS tool gather evidence and self-asses their organisation’s performance against four core competencies, reflected in seven quality indicators. The tool allows you to choose which, and how many, quality indicators to examine. This flexibility means that the tool is suitable for use by organisations of any size.

As part of our commitment to the framework, the SCA organised a three-part series of workshops, in conjunction with Quality Scotland, to support both current users of ARMS and those interested in undertaking the full cycle of the self-assessment process for the first time. The first and second workshops took place in November and January, respectively. They provided delegates with both detailed background to the benefits of the framework and practical experience of putting it to work. The final workshop takes place in February.

The workshops ensure that the most is got from the process, making improvements to your service, and building a good foundation for submission of a records management plan or an accreditation application.

Who Do You Think You Are? Live

The SCA has been invited to take part in the Who Do You Think You Are? Live exhibition in Birmingham, 6-8 April. The SCA will be representing services and collections from across Scotland at this popular event for family historians. If any services would like to provide materials for distribution, or if anyone would like to volunteer their time to helping on the stall, please get in touch, or complete this short survey.

Year of History, Heritage, and Archaeology

SCA was recently featured in a special supplement of The Times, printed to coincide with Visit Scotland’s Year of History, Heritage, and Archaeology, celebrating the rich archive collections of Scotland. The supplement can be viewed here. The paper had a forward by the Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs, Fiona Hyslop MSP, and copies were distributed to MSPs at a launch event in Holyrood.