Sound archive collecting policy

1. This policy statement relates to the Norfolk Record Office (NRO) sound archive, The Archive Centre, Martineau Lane, Norwich, NR1 2DQ.

2. The NRO’s collection policy for the sound archive is based on paragraph 3.2 of Historical Manuscripts Commission, A Standard for Record Repositories, (3rd edition, London, 2001).

3. The sound archive is administered by the Norfolk Record Office (NRO) for Norfolk County Council and is democratically accountable via the Norfolk Records Committee.

The NRO is part of Norfolk County Council’s Department of Cultural Services, which also encompasses Norfolk Library and Information Service, Norfolk Museums and Archaeology Service and Norfolk Arts Service.

The Norfolk Records Committee contains representatives from Norfolk County Council, plus the councils of the City of Norwich, the boroughs and the districts in Norfolk. Other stakeholders, with non-voting representatives on the Records Committee, are the Bishop of Norwich, the Norfolk Record Society and the Custos Rotulorum (Keeper of the Rolls), together with three co-opted members and an observer, who represent a wide range of interests within the county.

4. The NRO’s sound archive is the only public archive service in the county of Norfolk whose intention is the collection and preservation of sound recordings relating to the history and culture of Norfolk. The NRO will also make the recordings available for consultation and study to as wide a range of people as possible. 

In the following paragraphs of this policy document, the term ‘record’, relates to sound recordings and any associated documentation.

5. The NRO seeks to abide by all relevant legislation, including the following:

  • The Public Records Act, 1958, Section 4
  • The Local Government (Records) Act, 1962
  • Sections 224-9 of the Local Government Act, 1972
  • The Local Government (Access to Information) Act, 1985
  • The Data Protection Act, 1998
  • The Freedom of Information Act, 2000
  • Race Relations (Amendment) Act, 2000

6. The NRO will acquire sound recordings relating to, but not limited to, the following subject areas:

  • Oral history
  • Music
  • Broadcast material
  • Events
  • Family recordings
  • Drama, literature, art and performance
  • Dialect
  • Sounds of industry, transport, wildlife and other sounds occurring in Norfolk

7. The NRO recognises that people from many different cultural backgrounds have played and are playing a significant role in the history and culture of Norfolk and will bear this in mind when collecting material.

8. The NRO will work with the East Anglian Sound Archive initiative as required.

9. The NRO may acquire appropriate equipment for accessing all types and formats of sound recordings.

10. Copies will be made on standardised modern formats for research use and preservation reasons.

11. Photographs, research and production notes, documents and ephemera directly associated with sound recordings will be collected whenever possible and stored in appropriate conditions.

12. The NRO endeavours to acquire material by gift or long-term deposit, but will also borrow and copy items which otherwise could not be preserved. It may be appropriate to purchase material in certain circumstances. Priority in acquiring records will be given to those which are at risk of loss, destruction or damage.

13. Records relating to places which, during the period when the records were created or accumulated, were not in the county of Norfolk nor created by bodies or individuals based in Norfolk will only be acquired if they are part of an archive group which does relate to such a place, body or individual, subject to the requirements under paragraph 8. 

The NRO recognises that the integrity of archival groups should be preserved as far as practicable, and will consult, where necessary, with other record repositories in respect of archives which relate partly to other counties, in seeking to ensure that they are housed in the most appropriate repository.

14. Records are acquired with the intention that they shall be preserved permanently, but, exceptionally, they may be reviewed at a later date: for example, in relation to subsequent accessions of or relating to the same body or individual. 

No deposited records will be destroyed or transferred to another repository without the permission of the owner or depositor.

15. It is a condition of acceptance that records will be available for public access (subject to their being fit for production) either immediately or from a specified date, which may be at the end of a statutory period of closure or agreed in respect of non-official records between the county archivist and the depositor.

16. The NRO does not actively seek to acquire copies or transcripts of records, historical and genealogical notes and pedigrees. 

It may, however, accept such material as part of a larger archival group or if it complements another archive it holds or is likely to be acquired for the sound archive. Copies or transcripts may also be accepted if the original is unavailable or is believed to be at risk.

17. The NRO does not seek to acquire photographs, paintings, prints, engravings, newspapers, textual records, published material including ephemera or films, but will accept such material if it was created or collected by an archive creating body or individual, usually, though not exclusively, as part of a larger archival group.

18. If the NRO acquires records for the sound archive in a format or language which require, for their preservation, consultation or interpretation, storage conditions or specialist skills or equipment which it does not, or has not planned to provide, it will make every endeavour to acquire those storage conditions, skills and or equipment or find an organisation or person who has them. 

If such records are at risk of loss or destruction, they may be accepted on a temporary basis until a suitable repository for them can be identified or until the necessary skills, equipment and/or storage conditions have been acquired. 

If the NRO does not possess the necessary skills to store and access certain sound recording formats, then advice will be sought from the National Sound Archive or other specialist person or body.

In such circumstances a copy may be made for access purposes at the sound archive while the original will be stored in an appropriate repository. The depositor will be consulted in such circumstances.

19. The NRO will, when appropriate, advise owners and custodians of other record repositories and of museums and libraries with relevant collecting policies when assessing potential donations or deposits. In particular, films will be referred to the East Anglian Film Archive, published material and purely photographic collections to Norfolk Library and Information Service, paintings and objects to the Norfolk Museums Service and textual records to the Norfolk Record Office.

20. The NRO will encourage the present-day production of sound recordings to supplement its holdings. The staff will provide advice and where appropriate an equipment loan facility for groups and individuals interested in recording oral history.

21. The NRO may create original recordings to supplement its holdings as a result of project work, for instance the gathering of oral histories.

22. The terms of agreement for the deposit of records in the NRO can be supplied upon request.

23. The NRO has discretion to refuse to accept material for its archives.

24. The Norfolk Records Committee approved this policy statement on 17 January 2003.  It was revised by the Norfolk Records Committee on 21 January 2005 in accordance with recommendations made by the Norfolk Sound Archive’s Equality Impact Assessment, version 1.0.