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About Full Disclosure

This page gives the history of the Full Disclosure initiative from the early report and Under Development Conference to the establishment of the Full Disclosure Implementation Group and ensuing documents.

A history of the initiative

Full Disclosure: releasing the value of library and archive collections was originally the title of a report to the British Library, Library and Information Commission (LIC) and the Library and Information Co-operation Council (LINC) by the UK Office for Library and Information Networking (UKOLN) and the National Council on Archives (NCA) on a national strategy for the retrospective conversion of library and archive catalogues.

The report, completed in 1999, was the outcome of research commissioned by a Pathfinding Group which included representatives from key bodies in the libraries, information and archives sectors.

Under Development Conference

Consideration of the report's recommendations lay at the heart of the major conference, Under Development, held at the British Library on 10 May 1999. Over 140 delegates from all areas of the library and archive domains were joined by others from a variety of organisations and government initiatives for whom retrospective cataloguing and conversion is highly relevant.

The theme of the conference was enhanced access to our national and cultural wealth through the provision of comprehensive electronic catalogues and finding aids across the UK. Implementation of a national strategy would assist researchers and reduce pressure on libraries and archives as greater awareness of locations will spread the load and promote resource sharing. Lack of a national strategy currently results in neglect of some important collections as well as duplication of effort. Although much funding is being committed to digitisation of resources, these materials can only be fully accessible through the development of finding aids.


Conference delegates both welcomed and supported recommendations to set up a co-ordinating focus and to put in hand a programme of activities to work towards full disclosure of library, archive and museum resources. While the museum domain was not within the remit of the study, it was agreed it should be included in a national strategy. Points raised at the conference were incorporated into the final report from the research team.

Role of the British Library

Most support was for placing the new national co-ordinating focus within the new Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) either as part of it or constituted by it. However as MLA would not be operational for another year, the British Library agreed to host a shadow focus, supported by its new Co-operation and Partnership Programme and named the Full Disclosure Implementation Group, to take on and progress the initial elements of the strategy. The Co-operation and Partnership Programme has supported this initiative since the outset and will contribute staff and financial resources as required. Both LIC and LINC provided further financial support for Phase 1 of the full disclosure initiative, which outlined the following priorities for the core group:

to work with funding bodies and to put together a robust framework document to guide applicants and funding bodies

to monitor and co-ordinate existing retrospective conversion activity

to promote the strategy and create awareness in the various domains

to disseminate information via the internet and traditional routes

to look for funding opportunities and to bid for funding

to demonstrate the cross-domain links to potential funding bodies

Full Disclosure Implementation Group

The Full Disclosure Implementation Group (FDIG) succeeded the British Library Pathfinding Group and acts as the steering group currently undertaking the initial elements of the Full Disclosure programme listed above.

The work of the Full Disclosure Implementation Group

The core group concentrated on promotion of the strategy, dissemination of information and awareness raising.

Its major success was the framework document which aims to guide both applicants and funders on strategic priorities for retrospective catalogue conversion and retrospective cataloguing (see PDF files for this and related documents). The framework was endorsed by the trustees of the Heritage Lottery Fund and will now form the basis of HLF policy on projects in this area.

From March 2003 to September 2005 a Project Officer supported the Full Disclosure initiative.

Note on MLA: The MLA website gives full details of its current responsibilities and activities within the libraries and archives sector. In addition, their Cornucopia website provides an online database of information about more than 6,000 collections in UK museums, galleries, archives and libraries.

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