Rounding up the proceedings Professor Patrick Barwise echoed Adam and Liz’s thanks to the volunteers, to Network Research for giving us the space and facilities to get started and then Ipsos MORI for enabling to expand the operation, and of course, all those who have given financial support to get us to this point.
What’s been achieved in such a short time is quite astonishing. So far, it’s all been based on faith, hope and charity – but we’re now getting closer to the point where the Archive becomes self-sustaining.
In the long term, it should be a valuable commercial resource, mainly by helping marketers, planners and researchers put marketing decisions into a longer, broader, richer and more strategic market context. That’s exactly what data analytics can’t do. So this is, among other things, a strategic project for the market research industry, although this commercial benefit will take time to emerge.
Meanwhile, our research suggests that the archive has significant and immediate potential value to historians interested in the social and cultural history of Britain since the 1950s.
If we can start getting them to use it for research and teaching this year, that will open up both funding and publicity opportunities.
The long-term aim is to reach – or get as close as possible to – a point where university libraries subscribe to the Archive and the subscription revenue is enough to cover the cost of maintaining and developing it.
To get to the point where the Archive is fully funded by subscriptions from libraries and – eventually – commercial sources, we need continuing financial support from our friends – that’s you.
We aim to supplement your support, as soon as we can, with grants from public funding bodies like the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Social Science Research Council and the Arts and Humanities Research Council.
The first step for all this is to start talking one-to-one to some relevant historians, showing them how to access and navigate the Archive and using it in anger for a current research paper or for teaching. That will also help us understand which parts of the Archive they find most useful and how to improve the user interface for this market.
They should also be able to help us find other historians likely to be interested in using the Archive. Once they start presenting their research at conferences and seminars, news will spread within that community and, before too long, we should also be able to generate some publicity more widely.
The sooner we can make this happen, the better, so this is an immediate task.
Paddy commented, “We’re looking for one or two volunteers to help us locate and then talk to the right historians. If that’s of interest to anyone here, or anyone you know, please come and talk to me or one of the other trustees”.
Meanwhile, we do still need your financial support. We’ve managed our resources extremely carefully and, as Adam has said, we have reserves we can draw on to see us through the next year or so if we prioritise carefully. But it will be much more efficient if we have a clear sight of continuing pledged income.
None of us knows how long it will take to get to the point where the usage by historians and others – agency planners, journalists, etc – is enough to generate the grant and subscription revenue we need to cover our costs.
But the existing pledges and reserves won’t be enough to get us there.
“So”, Paddy concluded, “if you’ve already supported us – please support us again!
And if you haven’t yet done so, now is the time!
I think the Archive is going to be an important resource for many people, probably in unexpected as well as expected ways. We are in the process of discovery and we don’t know where we shall be when”.