National Records of Scotland: Consultation on Proper Arrangements for Archiving Public Records

Closed 14 Mar 2016

Opened 18 Dec 2015

Feedback updated 15 Sep 2016

We asked

For your views on Guidance that the Keeper proposed to issue to public authorities. This sets out the proper arrangements that they should have in place when transferring their records selected for permanent preservation to an archive.  These included constitution, finance, staffing, security, storage, collection care, and public access.

You said

We received 35 responses, of which 24 came from public bodies, six from individuals four from professional bodies and one from a private archive. The great majority were in favour of the principles of the Guidance but three topics, staff qualifications, digital records and resource implications all attracted particular comment, some of it critical. A number of other, lesser issues, mainly requests for clarifications, were also raised. Overall we found the responses to be both constructive and positive.

We did

A full report has been published on the Scottish Government Citizen Space website, analysing the responses and setting out the Keeper’s views on them. The final Guidance is now being altered to reflect some of the topics and shortcomings raised by the Consultation and will be issued shortly. It will clarify matters surrounding staff qualifications and will set out some basic principles governing preservation of digital records. Wording on a number of other topics will be clarified to remove ambiguities.

Results updated 29 Sep 2016

Supplementary Guidance on Proper Arrangements for Archiving Public Records

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Published responses

View submitted responses where consent has been given to publish the response.


The Public Records (Scotland) Act, 2011 requires each public authority named in the Act to agree a Records Management Plan with the Keeper of the Records of Scotland, setting out the proper arrangements for the management of its records. One part of these arrangements is to make provision for transferring records selected for permanent preservation on administrative or historical grounds to suitable archive facilities. These records are not just official bureaucracy. They underpin all aspects of our national story, and they also record people’s lives and decisions about their lives, information that can sometimes be very personal. Proper archiving is essential for proper accountability and transparency, and to enable individuals cared for by the state to access their personal histories. It involves the respect that we owe to the history of our country and its peoples. To advance this objective, the Keeper has produced a set of guidelines on what he would wish and expect public authorities to provide by way of archive facilities and services for preserving these records and making them publicly accessible.

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Why your views matter

This consultation aims to solicit the views of public authorities, archivists and record management professionals, users of archives, and the wider public on the Keeper’s proposed guidelines for preserving public records and making them available to the public. The views gathered will be used to gauge the appropriateness of what is proposed and to identify any gaps or shortcomings. It is acknowledged that the current financial climate is a challenging one and so these guidelines do not envisage major additional public expenditure. It is nonetheless hoped that they will set out a foundation for a longer term improvement in public archive provision in Scotland.

What happens next

Once the consultation has closed the Keeper will consider the submissions that have been made. He will be looking for gaps and shortcomings in what he has proposed and also a sense of whether the respondents think the Guidelines are suitable. As part of this consideration, he will have regard to the resource constraints under which the various stakeholders have to operate. Where appropriate, the Guidelines will then be redrafted to take in new views or emphases. Once finalised, the Guidelines will be published on the National Records of Scotland website as part of the suite of documents supporting the implementation of the Public Records (Scotland) Act, 2011.


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