Friends of Herefordshire Archives

Integrated online catalogues and indices

2019 will see the launch of an integrated online catalogue for Herefordshire Archive Service, something many researchers have been waiting a long time to see happen! Congratulations to all staff (and volunteers) on this milestone. Details about latest (Januray 2019) the development can be downloaded here.


Herefordshire A Great Place – www.the-shire.co.uk

Following a visit by Lauren Rogers, Great Place project manager, we are working to see how this HLF/ Arts Council project can promote collections and facilities at HARC more widely. Possibilities include friends and volunteers developing items for their new website –The Shire. We are looking for ideas- some may be:

  • Virtual tour of HARC
  • Online exhibitions – e.g. of recently digitised photographs
  • Exploring stories & oral histories from Herefordshire’s collections
  • Events listings

Interested? Look out for further details of how to get involved.


The future of Herefordshire Archives Service

In June 2018 Herefordshire Council’s Cabinet (minutes here) decided to outsource its Museum, Library and Archives (MLA) Services via a tendering process to commission the operation of the services from external organisations or businesses. This process has now started with a final choice of provider to be taken in January 2020 for transfer of service in May 2020. The latest timetable is set out below and the Council's MLA proposal paper is here.

The Friends of Herefordshire Archives opposed this decision but are committed to supporting the service whatever the management arrangements put in place by Herefordshire Council. The Friends have had to take up new activities in order to understand the process and to raise awareness among the public and councillors of its implications. There is very little information about the procurement in the public domain and we feel that more transparency is needed for such an important decision. For example the procurement process is based on ‘current levels of service’ but this does not take into account the staffing reductions in the service in the last year.

Although Museum, Library and Archives Services have some different aspects, there is much common ground. The three services are now managed together and the procurement process covers all three services. The Chairs of the three MLA support groups (Joint Action for Herefordshire Libraries (JAHL), Friends of Herefordshire Archives Service (FHAS) and HMSSG (Herefordshire Museum Service Support Group) are now working together to understand, monitor and influence the tendering process as best we can. Although we have been invited to contribute as ‘stakeholders’ the scope of our involvement is not yet clear. We will try and to influence things like staffing levels, quality standards, meeting service-users’ needs, reinvestment of any ‘surplus’ generated back into local services and future funding and investment plans.


Local Council elections 2 May 2019

Local Council elections on 2 May could see the political balance in the county shift leading to changes in the policy and priorities for MLA services. The timetable indicates that no binding decision on outsourcing will have be taken by then – a new administration may decide not to continue with the process or to change its parameters. The three MLA support groups have contacted all the political parties in the County asking them to give a clear Manifesto commitment to a sustainable future for the County’s Museum, Library and Archives Services and asking for continued dialogue and discussion with them.

Please help by writing letters to local newspapers or contacting Councillors & candidates asking them to confirm their support for these services. To find your Councillor’s details click here or here


Outsourcing MLA Services - Outline Timetable

(based on information from Herefordshire Council Nov 2018)


Decision to outsource

  • June 2018 Cabinet decision to commence procurement
  • Sept 2018 Briefing to staff and stakeholders

Tenders

  • Aug-Dec 2018 Prepare Service Level Agreements, contract documentation, evaluation framework, project team
  • Jan 2019 Finalise documents, publish OJEU invitation to tender
  • March 2019 Closing date, shortlist (minimum 5) to invite to tender
  • May 2019 Closing date for submission of bid

Evaluation

  • Nov 2018 Staff and stakeholder evaluation groups established.
  • July/2019 Evaluation and moderation panels
  • Aug 2019 Staff and stakeholder group input
  • Oct 2019 Panel make final selection (moderation)

Award Contract

  • Nov 2019 HC prepare governance papers
  • Dec 2019 Option for scrutiny committee
  • Jan 2020 Decision to award contract by Cabinet Member
  • March 2020 Finalise contract

Implementation

  • Feb- June 2020
  • July 2020 New Contract Commences