Arts, Heritage & Archives

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Importance of Archives

Information on archives in local authorities and the role of the archivist in preserving important records.


Archivists must ensure that the records under their care are preserved and made accessible to present and future generations. This is done through the careful arrangement and conservation of records, as well as meeting our legal obligations in areas such as copyright, privacy, data protection and Freedom of Information.

Duties of the archivist

Future generations

We ensure that, through our work, the records of today are preserved for future generations. The records can then be used to show the life, ideas and decisions of the original creators, linking the past, present and future.


We appraise records with the help of those who originally received, created and/or used them. We arrange and describe these selected records in order to allow efficient and effective access and retrieval. The security of archival collections requires the provision of descriptive lists, the comprehensive numbering and sub-numbering of documents, the supervision of researchers using documents and the provision of security microfilm.


We preserve records and apply basic conservation techniques to any that are damaged or deteriorating. We provide expert advice on the care and management of specialised media, for example, electronic records. We facilitate the work of a variety of researchers with diverse topics of enquiry.


We meet legal obligations in areas such as copyright, patent protection, data protection and Freedom of Information. Where sensitive or confidential information exists in deposited collections, these will be identified by the archivist when processing the collection, and appropriate measures will be taken, such as statements of closure or restrictions in descriptive lists, and warning labels on boxes.


The obligations of local authorities in regard to the care, preservation and availability of its archives are outlined in Section 65 of the Local Government Act 1994 and reiterated in Section 80 of the Local Government Act 2001.