Narrowing the gap between community engagement & collection development

What happens to the outputs of community-led heritage projects? Why are they so rarely accessioned into registered collections? Can we create a model for projects that benefits both communities and collecting institutions?

These are the questions that Jennie and myself (Hannah) explored back in November at the National Archives’ annual  ‘Discovering Collections, Discovering Communities’ conference (DCDC).  We shared the findings of the first phase of our HLF-supported project Coming in from the Cold, and also our experience as a heritage organisation with a more holistic approach to community engagement and collection development.

Watch the conference video below, and you can download the Coming in from the Cold audit report from the project blog.

Project-Based Collecting: Telling the whole story at the ARA conference

By Hannah

Last week Jennie (our Projects Manager) and myself presented at the Archives and Records Association (ARA) conference, here in Manchester. Our paper was called:

Telling the Whole Story: Community partnerships and collection development in the Legacy of Ahmed project

ARA_presentation_with notes_HN.jpg

We’ve been thinking a lot recently about the way we work, as an organisation that undertakes both outreach projects and heritage collection work*. Not only do we give equal weight to these areas of our work, the two have a symbiotic relationship: The outputs of community and schools-based projects (such as oral history interviews, teaching resources, donated ephemera, creative works and publications) are accessioned into the library and archive collections**, ensuring that community voices are preserved for the long-term, but also building a bank of resources to support ongoing outreach work – both our own and other people’s.

It’s the reason we call ourselves a ‘resource centre’ rather than an archive or library; our collections have always been intended to have contemporary, active and practical purposes. Continue reading