For the Record – Did it Really Transform the Archives Service?
30th June 2021 marked the end of our lottery funded For the Record project. It’s been a long journey since submitting the expression of interest to the National Lottery Heritage Fund in September 2013 with a number of excitements along the way.
Examples include running a public research room (and wider archives service) from a building site for many months, the sudden disappearance and subsequent liquidation of our principal contractors, and most recently over the last 16 months, the impact of the pandemic. So was it all worth it?
As project manager I recognise I’m biased, but I’m delighted with the outcomes (and really enjoyed the journey too). As one of my colleagues reflected, we’ve ‘transformed our facilities, ways of working, relationship with stakeholders and offer to users.’ The N’gambai African proverb has been a guiding force along the way: ‘If you want to travel fast, travel alone; if you want to travel far, travel together’. I’m therefore particularly grateful to Friends, colleagues, volunteers, researchers, partners, community groups, heritage charities, a wide range of funders and all other stakeholders for your invaluable contribution, and your patience!
Improved facilities include new strongrooms so we can continue collecting archives and take a more proactive approach again, space for groups, the new Dunrossil Centre for community events and training, and a tranquil community garden including the beautiful Friends border at the entrance.
Together we’ve delivered many exciting projects – catalogued Dowty, the largest uncatalogued collection in the office; worked with the constabulary to open up and extend police archive collections; delivered reminiscence sessions to over 800 older people in care and other settings; developed films for teaching children; and greatly enhanced family history support by sharing our site with the family history society, to name just a few.
We’ve learnt a lot along the way particularly in relation to fundraising, community engagement and e-preservation. Pleasingly we’ve been able to offer permanent jobs to the experts we employed to help us deliver For the Record.
Through partnership working we’ve made the archives service more sustainable and can look forward to a positive future at Gloucestershire Heritage Hub. I therefore feel we can claim to have transformed, or at least further improved, our service.
Thank you to the Friends who were major supporters and fundraisers for this project - without you it would not have happened. We look forward to celebrating the conclusion of the project once coronavirus restrictions lift and to thank properly all those who contributed.
We’ve already drawn up our vision for the next 10 years which will focus on making our collections more accessible through tackling cataloguing and conservation backlogs. We've recently launched our new online catalogue and I very much hope you’ll welcome this first step in the next phase of our development.
Heather Forbes, County Archivist. email@example.com