Saturday, May 07, 2005

Nellie does another whoopsie

It saddens us to report the Linking Arms consortium project, led by the National Archives, has failed in its bid for Heritage Lottery Fund support.

Our regular readers may recall the Archives Task Force's proposal for a virtual pathway or national Archives Gateway. Linking Arms constitutes a core part of this project, drawing community groups into the network.

The proposal for a national archives gateway was first published in the much trumpeted Task Force's report Listening to the Past, Speaking to the Future and confirmed in their follow-up Development Report.

If we were unkind, we would describe this setback as evidence of failure to achieve joined-up government. It also leaves the new emphasis on Action in the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council's web site looking a little ludicrous. We have had cause to comment on this kind of inactivity in a previous blog, Bollocks, Bullshit and Balderdash. It looks like we are in for more of the same.

On reading the HLF Board's minutes, we cannot help but question whether the project has been intelligently advocated. (Readers will also recall advocacy is another of the Task Force's priorities). For one thing, the branding appears highly confusing. Referred to in the Task Force's initial report as a virtual pathway or national Archives Gateway, in the HLF Board's minutes (25 January 2005) as a one-stop-shop portal and in the recent interview with Sarah Tyacke CB, Chief Executive of the National Archives by the Society of Archivists ARC periodical (number 189, May 2005) as a National Archival Network, anyone could be forgiven for wondering what exactly is being proposed.

The HLF Board rejected the application, for £6,340,535, on the grounds of low priority for HLF and insufficient heritage merit to offer value for money for HLF funding. This is truly damning, considering the Task Force's concern with advocacy. In any case, the sum requested was surely too great. Much better to have applied for a smaller sum to kick-start the project, produce results, and apply for a top-up. We should remember also, crucially, that Linking Arms is only part of the National Archives Gateway.

The woolly mammoth: once thought to have been extinct

Perhaps HLF could see what was coming: further applications of jumbo proportions!

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