Scoping the economic and social impact of archives

Sarah J. Horton, Jaqueline Spence

Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned report


Aims and objectives: 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. Conclusions and recommendations: 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.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherMuseums, Libraries, and Archives Yorkshire
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2006


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