Major funding success for Norfolk archives
By Margaret Plummer
Norfolk Adult Education’s Older People’s Projects became involved in community archiving through reminiscence work. There are now approximately 40 community archiving groups using COMMA software in Norfolk.
We have just been successful in a bid to Heritage Lottery for funds to set up a county wide community archiving network based in Norfolk market towns. This will enable us to employ a trainer and a co-ordinator who will help groups to work to a uniform high standard to create sustainable archives. In addition to the archives, groups will be encouraged to take part in intergenerational projects such as art work, embroideries, maps, village walks, community plays.
Our experience of working with community archiving groups in the county has shown that these diverse projects break down barriers for people who have little interest in computers and those who did not enjoy history at school. This includes many people with valuable memories which should be preserved. Intergenerational work is important for community cohesion and, by showing children the benefits of recording history for the future, increases the long term sustainability of community archiving.
Sustainability and funding – the major issues
We see sustainability and funding as major issues for the continuation of community archiving. Where archives are run by individuals or by very small groups it is easy for them to fall out of use when circumstances change. Archives may also be biased by the involvement of particular interest groups. We feel that these problems can be overcome if archives are truly run by and for the whole community. It is also important for archives to be available via the internet in an easily searchable form so they can be used by researchers all over the world.
Groups have always been encouraged to form constitutions to enable them to apply for funding. Awards for All has supported every group in Norfolk that has made an application to them. Other groups have been successful with applications to the Local Heritage Initiative, Heritage Lottery and Leader 2 funding.