National Historical Publications and Records Commission Strategic Planning

Help Build Our New Strategic Plan

 

A full presentation of this plan is available on YouTube at https://youtu.be/BV2ZVLupFJ0 that will provide some background and context for the work of the NHPRC and how we drafted this Preliminary Strategic Planning Goals Framework, and we encourage you to review it.

We welcome your comments here or at one of our Webinars scheduled for July 28 and August 12. See information below on how to participate.

 

Preliminary Strategic Planning Goals Framework

As we begin our Strategic Planning process, the Commission has met and discussed its enduring strengths, ongoing mission, current programming, and broad needs for the preservation and use of historical records. Out of this initial discussion, the staff has put together a preliminary overview of some future goals and directions for the Commission. Some of these ideas would require additional resources, including funding partnerships.

 

Expand access to the nation’s historical records.

The primary role of the Commission is to provide opportunities for the American people to discover and use records that increase understanding of our democracy, history, and culture. To that end, the National Archives funds projects that publish collections of historical records—including documentary editions in print and online versions and digital editions online. Several challenges have arisen during this transitional period, and the Commission will use its regular programming and seek new funding to:

  • Support multiple levels of access leading to online access and to open access
  • Promote the development and use of standards for online publishing of collections
  • Identify historically significant collections in need of a national initiative for full online access
  • Partner with and support collaborative and collective projects for long-term sustainability of digital resources

 

Engage the American people in preserving the American record.

A key challenge ahead is to help grantees engage directly with people in their communities and online. Along with efforts for greater public engagement, archives are encouraging people to learn critical thinking skills and basic research techniques when seeking and using historical records in both analog and digital formats. The National Archives has enlisted Citizen Archivists in crowdsourcing, and the Commission will seek to broaden that practice and to:

  • Encourage new organizational methods for crowdsourcing for historical records
  • Promote educational/training efforts for Citizen Archivists at other archives
  • Collaborate with state boards on local & statewide grassroots projects

 

 Provide leadership through the National Archives.

The National Archives plays a key national leadership role in developing and promoting best practices, model programs, and partnerships among the nation’s vast network of archives and documentary editing projects.  Through the Commission, the National Archives seeks to:

  • Build state partnerships around key needs, such as electronic records management
  • Continue to support professional development opportunities for archivists and documentary editors
  • Fund research, development, & dissemination of best practices
  • Collaborate with other funders on initiatives and programs

 

Adapt Commission practices to extend its reach and leverage.

The Commission seeks to encourage a more inclusive pool of applicants that represents the rich diversity of America’s culture and history. To that end, it will seek ways to demonstrate the public impact of its programming and to improve its internal management processes to:

  •  Streamline its application and review processes
  • Clarify language re “national significance” to encourage a wider pool of applicants
  • Strengthen the connection of its grants program to the imprimatur of the National Archives

 

NHPRC Webinars on Strategic Planning – 7/28 and 8/12

The National Historical Publications and Records Commission is drafting a new Strategic Plan and wants your input. A youtube presentation on the draft plan is available at https://youtu.be/BV2ZVLupFJ0.

The webinar will revolve around discussions of four preliminary goals for a new Strategic Plan:

  • Expand access to the nation’s historical records.
  • Engage the American people in preserving the American record.
  • Provide leadership through the National Archives.
  • Adapt Commission practices to extend its reach and leverage.

 

Join the NHPRC for a discussion of its Strategic Plan at webinars on

Tuesday, July 28, 2:30 pm – 3:30 pm Eastern

Wednesday, August 12, 3 pm-4 pm Eastern

 

Connect to the webinar: https://www.connectmeeting.att.com

 

Enter the Meeting Number: 888-331-6674

Enter the Access Code: 9763969

Enter your Email Address

Enter your Name:

 

You will have  the option for the Connect Meeting App to call you to connect you to the webinar.  You have to enter your phone number. This is the best choice!

If that does not work, you will call 888-331-6674 and enter 9763969 to listen on your phone.

You can also listen on your speaker and type questions.

If you can’t make one of the webinars, you can always contact Communications Director Keith Donohue, keith.donohue @nara.gov, 202-357-5365 for more information.

 

 

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6 Responses to National Historical Publications and Records Commission Strategic Planning

  1. Pingback: NHPRC Strategic Plan call for input

  2. Daniel Noonan says:

    These comment shave been previously shared with Kathleen Williams. They represent my personal opinion as a member of OHRAB, but do not necessarily represent the Board as a whole. I believe NHPRC’s four goals fit into the discussion we have had in our SHRAB regarding how best to scope our re-grants program to most effectively meet the challenges of preserving and providing access to Ohio’s documentary heritage. However, I would arrange them in this order with a slight language tweak:

    1. Provide leadership through the National Archives
    2. To adapt Commission practices to extend its reach and leverage
    3. To engage the American people in preserving the American record
    4. To expand access to the nations historical records.

    I feel strongly that we (SHRABs and NHPRC) need to focus on providing the fundamentals of strategic planning and appropriate standards for analog and digital preservation, especially to the smaller, non-professional managed repositories. There is not a strong argument for spending taxpayers’ funds on rehousing documents when they will not be maintained in an appropriate environment, or to digitize materials to provide better access without conducting basic preservation on the original objects. Further, without an articulated Vision, Mission, Strategic Plan and Collection Development Policy a repository does not have an advantageous position when seeking external funding.

    Some things the Commission may want to consider:

    • Developing standards and implementable guidelines and for articulating a repository’s Vision, Mission, Strategic Plan and Collection Development Policy.
    • Tying all grant awards (including re-grants) to having demonstrated the existence of these four elements.
    • Consider developing a post-custodial approach to working with small repositories, who are assigned a “mentor” institution, who has similar collections and a professional staff.
    • Develop in conjunction with prior point a documentation strategy for collecting a State’s documentary heritage.
    • In absence of post-custodial mentor relationships, develop a documentation strategy where all records would go to professional repositories (but that kind of defeats the purpose of citizen engagement.

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  3. Seth Denbo says:

    I am submitting this comment on behalf of the Research Division of the American Historical Association. It has also been communicated directly to Kathleen Williams.

    As our nation’s founders knew, a sound and enduring democracy requires an informed citizenry. Access to government records by the nation’s citizens promotes civic engagement and an awareness of the past. Since its founding as part of the same act that created the National Archives in 1934, the National Historical Publication and Records Commission (NHPRC) has been an integral part of how the federal government provides and supports vital access to the vast treasury of documents stewarded by repositories across the nation.

    As the publications and digital communication landscape continues to develop, the NHPRC is right to point to the ever increasing importance of digital publication and the need to encourage broad access. This changing landscape necessitates new strategies for funding and supporting projects to increase access to the nation’s records. So the American Historical Association welcomes the strategic planning that the NHPRC is currently undertaking. Last year, in response to the call for comments on the revisions to the NHPRC’s grant programs, the AHA wrote to Archivist of the United States David Ferrerio. Many of the points made in that letter (see http://www.historians.org/Documents/AHA%20Letters/AHA-NHPRC.pdf) apply to the current request for comment.

    The AHA welcomes the assurance in the strategic plan that the Commission will aim to support existing projects and help them to take advantage of the new digital environments for publication and access. We see it as vital that the NHPRC work to help ensure that current projects are completed to the high standard for which NHPRC funded work is known. Some of these projects have been running for many years and require ongoing funding to complete important and necessary work.

    More broadly, the AHA recognizes that the four main goals that the strategy sets out have potential to improve the impact of the commissions activities. The goals of increasing access to NHPRC funded publications, engaging the American people in preserving the record, and communicating with and encouraging wider participation in grant applications, are all necessary for maintaining the relevance of the commission’s programs and will ideally make it easier for the NHPRC to work to achieve it’s core purpose of “making public those important historical collections held by the National Archives and in other repositories.”

    It is vital however, that these important goals are not pursued at the expense of scholarship, the work of documentary editors in discovering and making available the documents, and the continued publication of high quality resources for historical education and scholarship. The move to ensure that large-scale papers projects are online is also vital. The web offers unprecedented accessibility for a wide audience and broad dissemination of the papers of important historical figures. Wherever possible projects funded by the NHPRC should take advantage of these possibilities.

    The goal of using open access formats to allow records to be used in new and creative ways is laudable, but moving projects and publications to primarily open access and digital formats still has significant ongoing costs. Digital publication entails ongoing editorial, publication, and digital distribution costs. NHPRC cannot possibly provide enough funding to enable projects to forego revenues sustained through distribution.

    Management, access, and preservation of materials remain a high priority, and NHPRC funding is essential to the search for sustainability models, whether in public archives or other repositories. Partnerships with government funders such as the NEH and IMLS offer one model for funding, but it is important to note that these agencies also have limited – indeed virtually stagnant – budgets.

    Crowd sourcing as a means to both preserve the record and to enhance what we know about the documents can be a very valuable means of increasing public engagement with government archives in addition to taking advantage of essentially volunteer labor. It is should not, however, be a substitute for the work of documentary editors with a deep knowledge of history, research skills, and editorial oversight. Crowdsourcing is most beneficial when it is a true exchange between scholars and the broader public, each of whom bring valuable perspectives to the work of managing and editing the records of our nation’s past.

    We look forward to learning more details about the proposed changes in NHPRC processes and new application and review procedures. The AHA continues to support the essential work of the NHPRC and it goal of providing leadership through the National Archives.

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  4. Mark S. Middleton says:

    Since this is a “preliminary overview of some future goals and directions” I think it’s fine. However the devil is in the details and this is what many of us want to comment on in greater depth. This overview does not lay out the next steps in this process nor does it identify future documents that may go into greater depth. However next steps and subsequent documents are what is needed as part of this overview.

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  5. FPT Bình Định says:

    I feel strongly that we (SHRABs and NHPRC) need to focus on providing the fundamentals of strategic planning and appropriate standards for analog and digital preservation, especially to the smaller, non-professional managed repositories. There is not a strong argument for spending taxpayers’ funds on rehousing documents when they will not be maintained in an appropriate environment, or to digitize materials to provide better access without conducting basic preservation on the original objects. Further, without an articulated Vision, Mission, Strategic Plan and Collection Development Policy a repository does not have an advantageous position when seeking external funding.

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  6. Vermont Historical Records Advisory Board says:

    The Vermont Historical Records Advisory Board (VHRAB) is pleased with the overall direction of the strategic planning process and has two questions/comments.

    1. With an increased focus on online access and the creation and development technical tools, many of the projects proposed to the NHPRC will be more technical/IT in nature. How does the NHPRC plan to effectively evaluate proposals? Will the NHPRC accept project charters and related documents aligned with IT project management, which are generally better for assessing the success of a project? There appears to be a gap in the current proposal structure when it comes to these types of projects.

    2. Many organizations lack both the infrastructure and financing to create and sustain projects that focus on online access, even if receiving funding for the initial work. In other words, they will never have the means to sustain the project past the grant period. As part of NARA’s leadership role in the strategic plan draft, has NARA and the NHPRC considered being the host institution for certain initiatives, thus creating and maintaining the necessary infrastructure and tools that other institutions can use to contribute to a common system managed by NARA?

    Thank you and we look forward to seeing the final plan.

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