The final session of the conference returned to the question posed – Is there a democratic deficit in archives? Delegates drew on the discussion and debate as well as their own experiences and views to consider two questions: first, the nature and extent of the archival accountability or democratic deficit gap; and second what kinds of actions are needed to address the gap(s). They explored archival, political, legislative, research and other actions, where, how and with whom they might happen. They identified the most important ones and why they are important.
In respect of a democratic deficit in archives, there was consensus that there are gaps with specific examples cited such as Police records (which are not covered by legislation), private records, as well as interesting gaps in the relationships between records and archives professionals, and one of the most important gaps being the charity/voluntary sector. In terms of actions, common themes to emerge included a need for a greater understanding of our users, a need for changed behaviours, including greater advocacy as well as a much greater degree of public involvement. One group suggested that the public should hold archivists to account.
The ‘records’ of the discussions on each table, captured on paper, are available on the Presentations page.