Preserving archival materials
Building a digital archive is essentially a two-stage process: preserving materials and publishing materials. ‘Preserving’ means digitising materials and curating them so that they will be available for generations of users to come. We digitise material according to our IBCC Digital Archive Collection Policy. This policy is set out below.
IBCC Digital Archive Collection Policy
1. Basic details
1.1. Name of the repository: International Bomber Command Centre Digital Archive (hereafter ‘the IBCCDA’, or ‘the Archive’)
1.2. Governing authority: the International Bomber Command Centre (IBCC) is a partnership between the Lincolnshire Bomber Command Memorial Trust and the University of Lincoln. The IBCC Partnership Committee oversees all aspects of the partnership, including the Archive, which is housed at and managed by the University of Lincoln.
2. Applicability of this policy
2.1. The Policy covers decisions about what the Archive collects for preservation and publication and the safeguarding of materials in its care.
2.2. The Policy does not cover other repositories of information associated with the IBCC, such as the Losses Database.
3. Purpose of the Archive
3.1. The Archive collects the tangible and intangible heritage of Bomber Command as an evidence base for the purposes of public information, education and research and not for individual or collective financial gain. Any income (for example, via application to funding bodies) shall be devoted to the day-to-day maintenance of the Archive. Any exceptions must be referred to the IBCC Partnership Committee before any transactions are entered.
3.2. Archive materials also form the basis for the exhibition that is housed in the IBCC’s Chadwick Centre. The Archive team has been responsible for devising and providing content for this exhibition.
4. Standards of conduct in the Archive
4.1. Archive staff are required to observe the highest standards of integrity and ethics in the processes of acquiring and maintaining items in the Archive. Ethical approval for the project has been gained from the University of Lincoln, which is a partner in the delivery of the International Bomber Command Centre; the detail of our commitment to ethical standards is available on request.
4.2. Volunteers and staff are bound by the IBCC’s ‘Safeguarding of children and vulnerable adults’ Policy and the Archive’s ‘Code of behaviour’.
4.4. All those who donate items or interviews to the Archive will receive copies of the agreement forms they have signed.
5. Scope and breadth of collection for the Archive
5.1. The Archive collects two main kinds of sources in the appropriate digital formats: oral histories (intangible heritage) and various kinds of documents and objects (tangible heritage). Items are ingested into the Archive in their original, unedited state - limited redacting is carried out only to protect donors’ privacy.
5.2. In all instances of tangible and intangible heritage, the following apply in terms of breadth of collecting:
5.2.1. The widest-possible range of experience: civilians and military personnel on both sides of the conflict who were affected by the bombing war, including veterans, family members of veterans, people who worked in aircraft factories, people who lived and worked near RAF bomber stations and people who were bombed in continental Europe.
5.2.2. The widest-possible geographical area: the Archive is interested in the history of individuals who served in armed forces or were affected by bombing anywhere in the world, including those who trained abroad, who served in theatres and units such as North Africa, Italy or India, WAAFs who served in Balloon Command or airmen who flew with the Second Tactical Air Force.
5.2.3. A broad temporal range, encompassing pre-war lives and experiences, wartime experiences, and lives up to the present day.
5.3. Physical objects
5.3.1. An object is defined as a tangible cultural artefact that inherently gives cultural clues about the person who created, used or owned it.
5.3.2. In all cases where donors lend physical objects to the Archive for digitisation, they are required to sign an agreement which acknowledges the responsibilities of both the donor and the Archive.
5.3.3. Occasionally the Archive accepts physical objects that are offered as gifts. In such cases ownership of the original is transferred to the IBCCDA and the donor is required to sign an agreement to this effect. Such objects must also fulfil these conditions:
a) The donor must legally have the right to donate the object/s.
b) The donor must sign an agreement form for each object or group of objects (which must be individually itemised on the agreement form).
c) The IBCCDA will not, under any circumstances, accept objects whose possession is considered in breach of the law, or are liable to pose a health and safety hazard to staff or visitors.
d) Unless there are very good grounds for exception, an object will be acquired only if it is preserved in a state compatible with standard practices for handling or display purposes and is not likely to require remedial conservation in the foreseeable future.
e) Objects accepted by the IBCCDA may be digitised (either scanned or photographed) for the Archive. If there is a personal story associated with an object accepted as a donation, every means should be made to record this story. It may take the form of an interview with the donor, a letter or other document, a photograph, etc. The necessary agreement must be obtained from the donor for such additional information.
f) If an object offered does not meet one or more collection criteria, the IBCCDA has the right to refuse an item.
g) The IBCCDA reserves the right to decide on the use of all objects accepted as outright donations. This may include display in the exhibition, forming part of a handling collection, or donation to another collection.
6. Collecting priorities
6.1. The Archive is constrained by resources of staff and equipment, and we have therefore established a principle of prioritisation in terms of how much can practically be digitised according to our policy. The following tiers of priority have thus been devised for preservation purposes.
6.2. Oral testimony
6.2.1. High priority: Those who form a living link with Second World War bombing. Given the length of time since the War, these potential informants are now of a great age.
6.2.2. Medium priority: The relatives and friends of those who had a connection with Second World War bombing. They are the custodians of memories and/or memorabilia.
6.2.3. Low priority: Those who have an interest in the subject of the bombing war and may have acquired information that they wish to share with the Archive.
6.3. Documentary materials and objects loaned to the Archive for digitisation or offered in digital format.
6.3.1. Urgent: materials that
a) are unique and
b) were created, or served a specific purpose, during the Second World War and
c) record first-hand observations, testimonies and experiences
Examples: logbooks, diaries, correspondence, photographs, lucky charms, decorations, citations, handwritten training materials, memoirs, personal memorabilia.
6.3.2. High priority: materials that
a) are rare, have a specific story attached to them or have a distinctive feature or features and
b) were created, or served a specific purpose, during or after the Second World War and
c) were created by mechanical duplication of a prototype
Examples: campaign medals, uniforms, maps.
6.3.3. Medium priority: Materials that
a) are likely to be found elsewhere in multiple, identical copies or do not have a specific story attached to them and
b) were created, or served a specific purpose, during or after the Second World War and
c) were created by mechanical duplication of a prototype
Examples: service materials, badges, promotional items, blank stationery, souvenirs.
6.3.4. We tend not to collect materials that
a) are the result of personal research
b) have been created by mechanical duplication of a prototype
c) are held in other repositories
d) constitute published materials.
Examples: published material such as books, magazines, booklets, pamphlets, maps, guides, flyers, posters, whole newspapers, magazines, DVDs, VHSs; creative works produced by individuals other than those associated with a collection, such as paintings, sketches, cartoons, pieces of poetry; unpublished research if authored by someone who is not the person who signed the release form; materials intended for sale, such as badges, lapel pins, and promotional items; copies of documents kept in other archives.
6.3.5. In addition to the above priorities, items will only be digitised if basic information about them can be reasonably established for purposes of a documentary record and for interpretation. Where appropriate, this will be recorded in the inventory attached to its Agreement Form and should include all or most of the following:
a) what it is
b) where it came from
c) who owned it
d) what it was used for
e) what it is made of
f) who made it
7. Safeguarding original collections on temporary loan to the Archive for digitisation
7.1. We define a collection as one item or more of original memorabilia.
7.2. We have a duty of care to do all in our power to ensure that original documents and objects entrusted to the Archive are kept safe while being digitised and either collected by, or in transit back to, their owners. We try to reduce as far as humanly possible all risks to their safety and to the integrity of the Archive.
7.3. Accession of collections
7.3.1. At the point when items/collections are accepted into the Archive, owners/donors sign an agreement form which contains their personal details, details of the collection, an acknowledgement that to the best of their knowledge they have permission to allow us to make digital copies (or are permitted to do so themselves) and an indication of what is to happen to the original items after digitisation.
7.3.2. The agreement form will always be fully completed under the supervision of a member of staff before the IBCCDA will take formal responsibility for the collection.
7.3.3. Paper originals of agreement forms are kept on file in secure storage and scanned copies are securely stored behind password protection. Copies of completed agreement forms are given to donors.
7.3.4. Anyone wishing to lend a collection to the Archive and who can visit physically should make prior arrangements for its arrival. If the owner is unable to bring a collection him/herself, arrangements are to be by mutual consent of the owner as well as the Archive.
7.3.5. In exceptional circumstances, it may be possible for the staff at the IBCC on Canwick Hill to accept collections, observing all the above accession procedures. It is necessary to make prior arrangements in such cases.
7.3.6. An inventory of the collection will be completed before digitisation begins. This will be attached to the agreement form (both paper and scanned versions) and a copy sent to the owner.
7.3.7. Material will be scanned immediately according to the digital media creation guidelines and the originals returned to the owner. If collections are to be deposited for later scanning, they must be securely locked in a fire-proof environment. All items must be returned to owners via secure courier service.
7.3.8. If a collection is too large or contains irregularly shaped objects too large to be stored securely, or contains items that require photography, owners should be urged to bring these to the Archive offices themselves.
7.3.9. When interviewers conduct interviews on behalf of the Archive, they are not permitted under any circumstances to remove collections from the interviewee’s possession. Interviewers should instead inform the Archive of the nature of such collections and arrangements will be made for their digitisation later.
7.4. Safe handling of collections in the IBCCDA offices
7.4.1. A collections tracking database is used to record all movements and progress of each collection. It is the responsibility of IBCCDA staff to ensure they complete the spreadsheet as successive tasks in the collections management workflow are signed off.
7.4.2. Collections are kept securely bound together in the Archive’s safe, together with a copy of the agreement form.
7.4.3. Small objects such as photographs are kept in envelopes in the collection.
7.4.4. Where, for practical reasons, such as the size of 3D objects, it is not possible to keep collections bound together, each part of the collection is stored as safely as possible in lockable cabinets and a copy of the agreement form is attached to each part of the collection. A note is made on the active collection database and each separate part of the collection is numbered 1 of 3, 2 of 3 etc., to avoid collections being mixed or the creation of orphaned objects.
7.4.5. Only one collection at a time is removed from the safe for digitising; its agreement form always accompanies it. Collections are not removed from the safe for any reason other than for purposes of digitising or return to owners.
7.4.6. Material must be scanned in the same room as it is stored. Under exceptional circumstances, material can be removed to a different room for scanning but this procedure must always be overseen by a member of staff. Collections are moved in secure containers, such as storage boxes and envelopes.
7.4.7. Where it is necessary to transport collections between the Archive and the IBCC on Canwick Hill, this is only be undertaken by IBCCDA or IBCC staff members, whose details will be recorded in the collections tracking database.
7.4.8. Rooms where collections are held or scanned are clean, dry and well-lit. Disturbances from draughts or other potentially damaging air flows (such as open windows) are minimised. No food or drink is permitted in rooms where documents are kept or scanned. Pens and other permanent markers are removed from the immediate area of original items.
7.4.9. At all times when the safe is unlocked, a member of staff is present in the room.
7.4.10. All those making scanned or photographic copies of original items will have received training and work under the supervision of a staff member. Objects must only be handled with clean, dry hands.
7.4.11. We observe a completion target of 15 working days; if there is any delay, we will keep owners informed.
7.4.12. Unless collections are collected in person by the owner, the university’s courier is used in all cases. At the point when a collection is ready to be returned to its owner, the owner is contacted to alert them to expect the collection. The contact is noted on the tracking spreadsheet.
7.4.13. Two staff members sign off on the tracking spreadsheet that the contents match the inventory and that the collection is securely packaged.
7.4.14. Parcels are clearly addressed using a label that is displayed in a document pocket securely affixed to each one (this includes addressee and return address, as well as receipt).
7.4.15. A sticker bearing the IBCC logo is affixed to the obverse of each parcel. Two staff members sign off on the tracking spreadsheet that parcels are addressed/labelled correctly.
7.4.16. Parcels are deposited in a postbag in the IBCC Digital Archive office. Postbags are collected from the office by University post room staff. The date on which each parcel is collected is noted on the spreadsheet. Copies of receipts are lodged with the Archive, scanned and filed. Missing receipts will be followed up immediately.
8. Accession of previously-digitised copies
8.1.1. In instances where it is impractical for donors to lend original materials to the Archive, the Archive will accept scans/photographs of the originals, provided these fit with the priorities outlined above and meet the minimum digitisation criteria. These are laid out in the Archive’s guidelines for digital media creation, available on request.
8.1.2. Donors who provide scanned or photographed copies of original documents are required to sign an agreement which specifies the terms under which the Archive is permitted to preserve and publish the digital copies.
8.1.3. Similarly, there may be instances where previously-recorded interviews both audio and video, are offered to the Archive. Provided such an interview fits with the priorities outlined above, the donor is required to sign an agreement specifying the terms under which the Archive is permitted to preserve and publish the interview.
8.1.4. The Archive’s copy of each signed agreement for previously-digitised material is securely stored behind password protection; a copy of the same is sent to the donor.
Updated: August 2018