Jersey Archive has highlighted the need for additional staff, if the Island is to continue meeting its obligations under laws such as Freedom of Information (FOI) and the new European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
The archive’s 2017 annual report, which is a requirement under the Public Records (Jersey) Law 2002, was presented to the States Assembly this morning (Tuesday). In it, Linda Romeril, director of Archives and Collections at Jersey Heritage, which runs the archive, warns: “Jersey Archive is currently underfunded to carry out the governance requirements placed on the service by Public Records, Freedom of Information and Data Protection legislation.
“Without additional staff, the archive cannot fully support public institutions and enable them to meet their obligations. This will result in risk to the long-term preservation of vital records, in particular to the identification, transfer and long-term storage of digital material.”
Mrs Romeril explains that the end of a three-year funding agreement with the Chief Minister’s Department led to a 35% reduction in archive staff numbers, from 12.5 FTE (full-time employment) to 8.1 FTE from 2015 to 2017. She says: “In direct contrast to this reduction in staff numbers, the archive service is now managing more records, more retention schedules, increased numbers of digital transfers and more enquiries from both public institutions and members of the public.”
Mrs Romeril says that four additional permanent members of staff are needed to ensure Jersey Archive continues to meet is governance requirements, and to provide records management and archiving services to public institutions.
She had previously highlighted staffing challenges in the archive’s 2016 report, following the loss of temporary staff for the FOI implementation programme. She was subsequently asked by Economic Development (now Economy and Partnerships) to prepare a business case for additional staff, which she did last September. The bid is currently under consideration.
Jeremy Harris, chair of the Records Advisory Panel, said: “The panel would like to congratulate Jersey Archive on the high quality of service that it gives to the public, as evidenced by the archivist’s annual report.
“However, the Advisory Panel also needs to draw attention to the level of resources currently available to the archive. In our view, Jersey Archive is not currently provided with sufficient resources to carry out its core functions properly under the Public Records Law. These include conservation, cataloguing, digital records, and advice and support for public institutions. The Advisory Panel fully supports the business case for additional staff, and believes a successful outcome will bring many benefits in terms of records management and access to public records.”
The purpose of Jersey Archive is to collect, preserve and promote access to the Island’s documents. As well as staffing challenges, Mrs Romeril also uses her 2017 report to highlight the work carried out over the year, including:
- the addition of over 30,000 catalogue entries to the archive’s online resource
- responding to over 4,000 enquiries by members of the public and from public institutions
- the revision of 25 retention schedules working across a number of public institutions
- a 63% increase in online use following the launch of Jersey records on ancestry.com at the start of 2017
- the donation of over 2,300 hours of volunteers’ time to support archive services.
Notable activity during 2017 included Jersey Archive receiving digital transfers of over 10,000 public domain documents containing redacted versions of the evidence and witness statements seen by the Panel of the Independent Jersey Care Inquiry. This material is now being preserved, catalogued and indexed.
Last year also saw the launch online of images from the Jersey Evening Post photographic archive for the public to view, comment on and download as part of the archive’s pay per view programme.