Shelf preservation

July 12, 2012

I enjoyed John Sutherland's "Raiders of the lost archives" (28 June), although I think his conclusions premature.

In my field, the history of charity, archive materials are perhaps more vulnerable than ever. We cannot write the history of the modern UK without using the records of voluntary organisations, given the increasingly blurred boundaries between the public, private and voluntary sectors. Yet there is little legal protection for such archives, which are continually threatened by funding cuts. This is why a group of academics has got together with information professionals and voluntary sector representatives to form the Campaign for Voluntary Sector Archives, which will be formally launched at the House of Lords on 15 October.

Academic users of archives too often take for granted that the records they wish to use will be preserved, catalogued, accessible and even digitised, but this doesn't happen by accident. We should act now to ensure that scholars in the future seeking to understand the social provision and policy of today will have access to the necessary records.

Georgina Brewis, Institute of Education

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