Details on article

Id 194
Author Horton, S., ; Spence, J.,
Title Scoping the economic and social impact of archives.

Horton, S.; Spence, J. (2006). Scoping the economic and social impact of archives. Yorkshire: Yorkshire Museums, Libraries and Archives Council.

Keywords Archives; Social Impact; Economic Impact; Public Value
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Abstract This project was commissioned by the Yorkshire Museums Libraries & Archives Council (YMLAC) in order to “increase YMLAC’s and the Archive domain’s knowledge and understanding of the methodologies / approaches available to undertake economic and social impact assessment.” The objectives were to: systematically review the published evidence on economic and social impact assessments adopted in the archives domain, both within the UK and internationally; develop a taxonomy of usage, based on the need to differentiate primary and secondary users, economic and social impacts; assess the transferability of other schemes developed for the valuation of information or information services to the archives sector; develop an impact taxonomy that addresses economic / social impacts over time; produce a mapping of impact type against methods, noting any particular problems or opportunities in deploying these methodologies.

Metodology The methods adopted were based on those of a systematic literature review. This reflected the requirements of the brief (YMLAC, 2005), which called for a synthesis of the existing research evidence, based on a comprehensive literature search, and appraisal of the identified evidence. It was also necessary that any search strategy adopted should be transparent enough to allow future researchers to apply the same approaches to check and update the conclusions drawn from the review. This is comparatively easy in tight disciplinary areas but more problematic for this review given the remit to appraise evidence in other related sectors that could be applied to the archives domain. The possible methods for assessing the secondary use of archives further required an overview of the ways data is collected on viewing figures for media and publishing outlets. It soon became apparent that the potential scope of the review, in relation to literature from outside the ALM sector, would place limitations on the depth at which some issues could be addressed, and this is discussed further in. This section concludes with a brief overview of how the findings of this process are presented in the remainder of the report.

Findings Impact assessment for the archives sector has been very limited but the existing evidence at least indicates the type and range of impacts to be expected; there is however insufficient research data of the rigour and scope required for generalisation across the domain. Methodologies that could be applied to the archives domain include SP techniques, which might address some of the difficulties of assessing the impact of secondary usage and the ‘non-user’; however, more detailed case studies are necessary to establish the parameters of value, before these could be applied in practice. An approach adapted from the health sector concept of QALYs could offer a way forward. Thought should also be given to whether the level of investment required in developing complex methodologies can be justified by their eventual end-use. Such techniques are dependent on the perceived ‘public value’ of archives, which highlights the need for further work to raise awareness of the domain and what it does.
Open Access YES
Search Database Snowball
Technique Literature review
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