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Other institutions' Conferences and congress

Commercial activity in archives seminar, London, 11 May 2012

A seminar organised by The National Archives of the United Kingdom and the International Council on Archives.


At a time when recession and reductions in public expenditure are biting deeply into the budgets of archival institutions in many countries, archives around the world are looking to generate a significant amount of revenue through the development of new services, based on their unique and irreplaceable content and the skills of their staff. In particular, the rapid expansion of online services presents an opportunity to increase the awareness and use of archives and to raise money by charging for online access to digitised records.

The focus of this one-day seminar, which will take place at The National Archives (in Kew, west London) on 11 May 2012, is to assess the prospects for generating revenue in archives. It is aimed primarily at national archives and other larger archive services which have considerable commercial potential. It will provide a forum for exchanging information about the commercial opportunities that exist for archives, including success stories from archives operating in contrasting environments in different countries. It will identify possible constraints to commercial activities, practical, legal, and philosophical, and offer suggestions for how they might be handled.


The seminar will be introduced by Oliver Morley, Chief Executive and Keeper of The National Archives, after which Martin Berendse, President of the International Council on Archives (ICA), will outline ICA’s approach to revenue-raising. After the presentation of several case studies by leading international experts in the field during the morning session, participants will have the chance to discuss a wide range of topics relevant to the theme in groups during the afternoon. Possible subjects for lively debate include the planning and development of charged online services; responding to public expectations for online access; identifying and overcoming constraints in offering charged services; the pros and cons of developing online services in partnership with the private sector; and developing other sources of revenue for archives apart from online services (for example, publishing and merchandising).
At the end of the day an attempt will be made to respond to the following questions: what are the best practices in the field? And how far can they be applied across different administrative and cultural traditions? This will be followed by a discussion on the value of setting up a regular ICA forum on business development in archives.
All contributions at the seminar will be in English, and participation is free. Lunch and refreshments will be provided by the host. In addition, a dinner will be organised on the evening before the seminar.


The maximum number of participants at the seminar is 50.


If you are interested in attending, please register with Patricia Humphries at The National Archives (email ) as soon as possible, indicating which subjects which you would be particularly interested in discussing.

Title Size File Type Language
Commercial activity in archives-Flyer_EN 182 Kb pdf English