The Strategy of the National Archives 2020 

Vision and mission

The National Archives is an expert service organisation and represents key infrastructure for research in the humanities and social sciences. It promotes the customer-oriented use of documented cultural heritage, operates as a leading expert in archive activities, supports methods of renewing scientific research and promotes the open availability of information.    

Values

The values of the National Archives are based on internationally recognised human values as well as the ethical principles of the archival sector and the research community. The key values guiding the operations of the National Archives are:    
  1. Openness and confidentiality
  2. Impartiality
  3. Independence

Strategic focus areas and aims

The National Archives
  1. Is customer-oriented in all its activities.
  2. Ensures that the analogue materials it has decided to preserve are archived in a cost-effective and logistically expedient manner, and improves their usability by promoting the digitisation of the materials as part of the transfer process.
  3. Promotes electronic archiving in public administration, and participates actively in the development of storage solutions.
  4. Offers services promoting the reuse of document information for permanently stored digital archives and register data.  
  5. Recognises changes in research processes and takes into account the requirements they place on its services and operations as research infrastructure.
  6. Promotes the modern reuse of digital document information by participating in national and international research projects and puts their results into practice in its electronic services.
  7. In addition to storing official materials, ensures that the reception of required reliable, impartial and sufficient document information from various parties in the private sector and civil society, as well as from private citizens, is as accurate as possible.
  8. Develops electronic customer services independent of time or place as one of its most important service channels.
  9. Develops harmonised, national operating methods without forgetting local stakeholders and service needs.  
  10. Ensures that its services are economical and cost-effective, while taking into account the principles of sustainable development.
  11. Promotes the diverse and up-to-date expertise of its employees as well as the wellbeing of its staff.

Means of implementing the strategy

  1. Focusing resources in accordance with strategic focus areas and aims.
  2. Clear, expert and up-to-date normative and documentary information guidance.
  3. Clear criteria and processes for screening analogue and electronic materials, as well as destroying or storing digitised analogue materials to eliminate the need to build new archive facilities.  
  4. Facility-level placement and service logistics for analogue material.
  5. Open-minded utilisation of modern technologies in the provision of services.
  6. A proactive acquisition policy for private document information and close interaction with other parties operating private archives.  
  7. Active, innovative and varied cooperation with strategic partners.
  8. Open-minded utilisation of crowd-sourcing in promoting the usability and reuse of digital document information.
  9. Utilisation of an enterprise architecture model in the planning, development and management of operations.
  10. Effective use of electronic communication channels and social media.
  11. Human resources planning and a long-term recruitment policy, emphasising up-to-date expertise and active job rotation.  

Operating environment

Finland is a society based on information and its utilisation. Information systems and the information stored in them are a key component of public administration operations. The ability to utilise information is a key competitive factor, the economic significance of which is becoming increasingly important. The seamless transfer of information between public administration information systems by 2020 is a key objective.  

In its government programme “Finland, a land of solutions” (29 May 2015), Prime Minister Juha Sipilä’s government has expressed the aim that customers of public administration bodies should only be asked for any particular piece of information once. When realised, this will revolutionise the use and management of public information, speed up administrative processes and provide opportunities for developing allocatable services arising from the needs of the general public. Having open public information will also provide private sector operators with the opportunity to develop these services in a manner that is profitable to their business.  

The availability of public administration information materials will be promoted in accordance with the government resolution of 3 March 2011. Finland’s public information data repositories will be published in machine-readable format, for free and with clear terms and conditions of use, by 2020. The opening up of administration activities and information will ensure that the general public and NGOs can participate in developing society. The greatest benefit of opening up information repositories will be gained when various types of information can be combined.

Public administration bodies will provide the general public and companies with high-quality, comprehensive official electronic services that are jointly developed in a customer-oriented manner. The control of archive functions will be centralised. The joint electronic archives service intended for public administration organisations will support administration processes and promote the use of documents in research and decision-making in society.

The semantic compatibility of information systems will be enhanced by automating and digitising administrative processes, as well as joint information structures. Independence from other organisations is essential in the development processes. Electronically created information will be stored electronically for its entire life cycle.

Self-service will be emphasised in customer service, allowing the general public, researchers and other individuals requiring information to retrieve information from the services by themselves. Search for and reusing information subject to limitations of use requires strong authentication and functioning permit practices. Register information forms a key information repository for society, and its utilisation is accelerated and made more effective by joint use permit practices.

Investment in research infrastructure and scientific information management will increase strongly both in Finland and abroad. The openness of research outcomes, research data and research methods will be promoted within the limits allowed by research ethics and legislation. Increasing the openness of research is intended to improve the reliability, transparency and impact of science, as well as to promote more effective use of research results. Electronic archival ensures the integrity of electronic document information and the reliability of electronic information.

The management and availability of digital culture and science data repositories, as well as their long-term storage, will be implemented in cooperation between cultural memory organisations. Services required by archives, libraries and museums will be provided in accordance with a shared architecture.

From the National Archives Service to the National Archives – strategy and monitoring

The renewal of operating methods in public administration requires that the operations of the National Archives Service are organised in such a way that it can meet its statutory duties, implement, for its part, the objectives of the government programme, and support scientific research as an important shared infrastructure.

Implementing the comprehensive reform of archives legislation is key in the reform of the National Archives Service. Legislation regarding the National Archives has been proposed to enter into force in 2016, and an amendment to the Archives Act and new legislation on private archives are proposed to enter into force in early 2017. The name of the National Archives Service would be changed to the National Archives, and provincial archives would become offices of the National Archives. The name of the Sámi Archives, part of the National Archives, and its special duty as the keeper of documented Sámi cultural heritage would be retained.  

The proposed legislation regarding the National Archives would enable the dismantling of the outdated district administration model and the efficient utilisation of the resources of the National Archives Service in a situation where government budget appropriations are decreasing. The proposed legislation regarding private archives would make cooperation between the National Archives and archives receiving government appropriations more effective, clarify the distribution of duties, and support the development of a joint acquisition policy and services.  

The decision to build a shared central archive facility for the National Archives in Mikkeli, as well as the right to destroy digitised documents in a reasoned manner, enable the storage of analogue materials and the logistics planning and implementation of the service activities at a national level. If implemented, the comprehensive digitisation of permanently stored materials as part of the transfer of statutory archives from the authorities will eliminate the need to build more archives facilities suited for permanent storage after the central archives have been completed. The central archives will be inaugurated in 2018.

The integration programme of the National Archives Service will have an increasingly strong effect on its operations, even though developing practices simultaneously is essential. Changes in the operating environment provide great challenges for the reform of the National Archives in accordance with the objectives set in the strategy. This is why R&D activities, in particular, will be funded to a significant degree by external competitive funding.

The attainment of the strategic goals of the National Archives will be evaluated in a self-assessment to be implemented in 2017 as well as with an interim evaluation to be performed in 2018, after the commissioning of the central archives. Based on these evaluations, the strategy will be adjusted for the remaining strategy period. At the end of the strategy period, an international evaluation will be performed, the recommendations of which will be utilised in the planning of the next strategy spanning to 2025.

Customer-oriented electronic services

The service provision of the National Archives will be renewed to better meet the requirements of changing research processes and various customer groups. The National Archives will develop its electronic services to be more user-friendly, in cooperation with its customers and operators in the field of cultural heritage, by reforming use permit processes and making them simpler, by enabling the provision of social metadata and by developing material-specific services. Crowd-sourcing platforms will be provided to customers in order to increase social metadata and to correct optical character recognition errors in text.

Customers will be able to access digital material themselves. Applying for use permits and the use of digital materials subject to limitations of use require authentication that utilises joint public administration solutions. The online services of the National Archives will also function as a channel for ordering and using analogue materials.

In cooperation with research institutes, register authorities and the scientific community, the National Archives will develop a use permit service to replace the current slow and organisation-specific permit practices. The service will improve the use of register information and make it more varied, while speeding up research processes. The information produced by research will also be available and up to date for decision-making in society more rapidly.

The primary customer interface for the National Archives will be Finna, a customer interface developed for the needs of the National Digital Library (NDL), in conjunction with which services supporting the electronic research process will be developed. The use of archive materials through Finna will be improved in a customer-oriented manner.

The AHAA service, developed by the National Archives and six government-subsidised archives, will be made available for public administration and other archive operators, with the aim of turning them into a comprehensive document information repository that will also promote the publication of metadata as open data.

Normative and information guidance

Decisions on the permanent storage of document data related to screening policies and strategy as well as the acquisition policy for private materials will ensure a comprehensive, balanced and sufficient picture of society and the operators therein for research purposes.

Document management steering at the National Archives will aim to ensure the permanent preservation, usability and availability of documents and will focus on the management of the entire life cycle of document data, especially in electronic operating environments. The structured data included in information systems will also be available separately, in accordance with the objectives of open public information.   

The National Archives will promote electronic archiving within public administration by stipulating which document information is to be permanently stored by public administration bodies. Information content related to essential administrative duties will be stored permanently in digital format.

The volume of permanently stored analogue information in the possession of the public administration will be re-evaluated as accurately as possible, and a schedule for the transfer cycle will be provided. The point of departure is that the analogue materials transferred for permanent storage will be digitised as a part of the transfer process. The organisations responsible for the transfer will be responsible for the costs of digitisation. At the same time, the proportion of materials stored in analogue format will be determined. Digitisation will significantly improve the availability of materials and build a functional bridge between analogue and born-digital materials.  

The proposed amendment of the Archives Act will enable the destruction of analogue material without changing the legal probative force of the documents. An international survey will be conducted on the disposal and preservation criteria for digitised materials and the cultural-historical value of analogue materials, which will describe international preservation practices and the proportion of permanently stored analogue materials. Analogue materials will not be destroyed before the survey is completed and decisions based on it are made. The aim is that 80 – 90 % of the new materials transferred could be disposed of after digitisation as part of the transfer process.  

International cooperation and development activities

International activities constitute part of the key operating processes of the National Archives. The purpose of international contact is to ensure that the expertise of the National Archives is up to date and compatible with international standards and practices. International expertise will be exploited in the National Archives’ own activities and development.

The priorities in international activities include Nordic cooperation, cooperation carried out among the member states of the European Union and the operations of the International Council on Archives (ICA). The acquisition of documents related to Finland from Russian archives is a cost-effective way to acquire key research materials for Finnish researchers in a coordinated way.

The National Archives is internationally comparable to other national archives services in the Nordic countries. The strategic aim is that all the activities of the National Archives represent the highest Nordic quality. Development is monitored and evaluated through benchmarking that covers the different areas of operation and is carried out on a regular basis.

The National Archives participates in international cooperation undertaken to preserve cultural assets, especially with UNESCO and the international Blue Shield organisation. The emphasis is on the preservation of documented cultural heritage in UNESCO’s corresponding Memory of the World programme.

The digitisation and open availability of heraldic materials will be developed as a special field of expertise of the National Archives within a European frame of reference, and the aim is to create a common European heraldic database, Europeana Heraldica.

Cooperation related to international research and development activities will be conducted by participating in EU cooperation projects. These projects will result in common platforms, which will promote a modern research process, as well as the usability and availability of digital materials. Nordic cooperation will be intensified. Key forms of cooperation include externally funded projects promoting electronic services, the development of research databases and the reuse of digital materials.
The National Archives will participate in national and international partnership projects that utilise semantic web technologies and ontologies to increase the reuse value of document information.

Archive activities in the private archive sector

The National Archives will play a key role in the private archives field. Private archive activities will be based on a joint acquisition policy drawn up in cooperation with other operators in the field, which determines the duties and aims of each operator in the acquisition, preservation and access to private archives and documents. The acquisition policy will enable long-term, pro-active operations and will improve financial efficiency. The aim of the cooperation is to ensure the reception of materials complementing official materials from various operators in the private sector and civil society, as well as from private individuals, taking into account the regional representativeness of the materials.
The National Archives will guide and monitor the operations of private archives receiving government subsidies and will annually grant appropriations allocated for this purpose in the government budget pursuant to provisions in legislation on private archives. The National Archives will support the long-term planning of private archives receiving permanent government subsidies with the aim of promoting cost-effective facility and information system solutions. A key tool in the attainment of the goals of the legislation on private archives will be the acquisition policy for government-subsidised private archives, the enterprise architecture and facility strategy.

Together with other operators receiving private archives, the National Archives will prepare a national operating model for saving digital private archives and their permanent electronic preservation.

Consolidation of the expertise and management of resources at the National Archives

Digitisation requires a new kind of information management expertise and continuous training of staff, as well as knowledge of the changing operating environment outside the National Archives. Special attention will be paid to keeping the equipment infrastructure and communication competence of the staff up to date.

The support functions of the National Archives will proactively provide services to other functions. A significant part of the resources of the National Archives will come from projects outside budget funding. The National Archives will consolidate its project competence and focus resources on acquiring and managing external funding. With regard to the use of facilities, the principles of sustainable development will be taken into account without endangering the preservation of nationally significant documented cultural history.

Communication from of the National Archives will be customer-oriented and aimed at increasing awareness of the National Archives. Simultaneously, it will serve the management of the National Archives, improve the internal coordination of operations and support the attainment of strategic goals. Internal communication will be made more effective by updating and harmonising the equipment base and supporting the learning of new operating methods.