Press release

The National Archives will take on the leadership role for the archives sector

Support and leadership for the UK’s archive sector will transfer to The National Archives (TNA) from April 2012 after closure of the MLA.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Support and leadership for the UK’s archive sector will transfer to The National Archives (TNA) from April 2012 following the closure of the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA), Culture Minister Ed Vaizey announced today.

There are well over 2000 bodies, both public and private, that hold regularly accessible archives in the UK including universities, local authorities and other institutions. 

MLA’s current role involves acting as an advocate for the sector and helping archives improve their services and public access.   Challenges include the growing need to manage digital information, promoting an innovative approach to delivering the highest standards in service, and responding to public demand for online access to digitised content.

Culture Minister, Ed Vaizey said:

“The UK’s 2000 archives are the gateway to our national heritage and The National Archives is perfectly placed to take on this leadership role, acting as an advocate for the sector and strengthening and reinforcing our network of archive provision. 

“I am very grateful to the MLA for the work they and The National Archives have done in supporting the archive sector and I am confident that The National Archives will continue this important stewardship role.”

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport is now working with The National Archives and the MLA on the transfer of responsibilities and the timing of the transfer. TNA and MLA are also working with Arts Council England on cross cultural sector initiatives involving museums, libraries and archives.

Commenting on the transition, Justice Minister Lord McNally said:
“Our country’s archives are one of our greatest national treasures, preserving our history for future generations and underpinning our national identity. I am pleased that The National Archives is taking on responsibility for overseeing the wider archive sector. TNA’s excellent track record will help it to work effectively with local government, business and private sector partners, ensuring our heritage is in safe hands.”

Welcoming the move, Oliver Morley, Chief Executive and Keeper, The National Archives said:

“Being at the forefront of archive sector development we will be looking to share technologies and business processes; provide advice on archival best practice and help broaden archives’ access to funding pools. Even in tough financial circumstances, our focus will continue to be on sustaining and preserving the record, and making it more accessible to the public and volunteers than it ever has been before.”

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Notes to Editors

  1. Museums, Libraries and Archives Council is the government’s agency for developing and improving England’s museums, libraries and archives. Through strategic leadership, it seeks to promote best practice in museums, libraries and archives.  The MLA is being abolished as part of the Government’s review of arm’s length bodies.

  2. The National Archives is a government department and an executive agency of the Ministry of Justice. As the official archives of the UK government, it cares for, makes available a vast collection of over 1000 years of historical records.  The National Archives also manages current digital information and devises new technological solutions for keeping government records readable now and in the future. It provides world class research facilities and expert advice, publishes all UK legislation and official publications, and is a leading advocate for the archive sector. At the heart of information policy, The National Archives sets standards of best practice that actively promotes and encourages public access to, and the re-use of information, both online or onsite at Kew. This work helps inform today’s decisions and ensures that they become tomorrow’s permanent record.

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Published 20 May 2012