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A ground breaking report issued today has identified that over 29% of
archives held in the North West are inaccessible to researchers. The Logjam
project audited over 900 collections in 30 archive offices in the region
and revealed uncatalogued records comprised an alarmingly high proportion
of holdings.

The majority of these archives (56%) were deposited in archives by private
businesses, individuals and organisations. These records include the
archives of major families and companies that have shaped the development
of the region. 36% of the uncatalogued collections were official records,
with the majority of these being administrative records of local
government. Most importantly, 48% of the uncatalogued collections are
covered by the Freedom of Information Act.

It is calculated that over 900 years work has already ensured that the
majority of archives are catalogued, but over 360 years of work remains.
The project also identified priority collections for cataloguing, on the
basis of their local, regional and national significance and cataloguing
these collections would require 80 years of cataloguing time. In seeking
solutions to this problem the report identifies a 3 part action plan,
comprising action by the archive offices, NWMLAC and other partners.

The project, undertaken by the North West Museums, Libraries and Archives
Council in conjunction with NWRAC, is the first of its kind to analyse
archives on a regional basis and identify, quantify and prioritise
uncatalogued collections. The methodology involved examining each
collection and recording the details, including the date range, extent,
complexity and importance of the collection. The database then compared
this data with data collected from recently completed cataloguing projects
and automatically produced an estimated of the resources required to
complete the cataloguing. Alongside this, a prioritised list of collections
for cataloguing was produced for each repository and the for the whole
region. The methodology and database used for the project is now available
to other regional agencies and repositories from NWMLAC

The North West Museums, Libraries and Archives Council is a new
organisation with a remit to provide innovative services and strategic
leadership, advocacy, information and support to the region. Through a
network of over 160 registered museums, 40 major archives and 500 major
library points it aims to maximise the sector’s contribution to the North
West’s distinctive cultural, social, educational and economic life and
identity.

Copies of the Logjam Report are available from NWMLAC, Ground Floor, Malt
Building, Wilderspool Park, Greenalls Avenue, Warrington. WA4 6HL Telephone
01925 625050 For queries regarding the methodology please contact Janice
Tullock, Archives Developemnt Officer.

Janice Tullock
Archives Development Officer
NWMLAC