Meeting the Needs of Younger Customers at Gloucestershire Archives
At Gloucestershire Archives we have over 10 million documents, from the 12th century to the present day, and something to interest everyone, whatever their age. We are able to share these with our customers onsite and, to a lesser extent, online. According to the new Archives Card (please apply online here - CARN cards were phased out in April) the lower age limit for archives’ users is 14 years.
However, we work with children a lot younger than 14 years! For example, we host regular class visits by primary schools, and deliver family friendly events for very young children (based on arts and crafts) through to young adults. And we receive enquiries, every year, from those aged 16-18 years, about volunteering with us. This is useful, practical experience for teenagers when writing their personal statements on their university admissions forms.
The things that our younger visitors find particularly interesting are visiting behind the scenes, such as tours of our strong rooms, looking at very old, original documents, and hands-on activities such as writing with quill pens and ink. Here is a photograph of youngsters from Kingsholm Primary School visiting our strong rooms and learning about old handwriting:
One of the ways we’re reaching out to children and young people is through our connections with schools. During the recent lockdown, staff were busy creating all sorts of online resources. An example of this is the film that one of our staff made, aimed at Key Stage 2/3 children (older primary age), all about the C17th John Speed map of Gloucestershire that we have in our collections. You can view it here.
And if you have grandchildren aged 9-12, why not view it with them?
In order to meet the needs of some of our youngest visitors (and their parents) we have created a Children’s Corner in the microfilm room. This has a child-friendly set of table and chairs, and a few colourful wooden toys. We feel it’s important to make the Heritage Hub welcoming to all, whatever their age.
We are writing to several schools this month asking them if their pupils have been keeping Covid-19 lockdown diaries and, if so, would they consider donating them to us. This is because we’d like a permanent collection of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic in Gloucestershire, and its effects on young and old alike.
If you know a young person who has a keen interest in history, local history, or heritage, why not introduce them to the Heritage Hub, and suggest they come along to join Gloucestershire Archives as a member?