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Welcome to the Community Archives Wales Wiki (or should that be Communiki?)

Here's a draft bid document for communities@1 funding. Please edit it until you feel it hits the right buttons:

== Section 3 – Project Details ==

Please provide a brief description of the project


We are bidding to conduct a 12-15 month pilot project on community archives in Communities First areas in Wales. We aim, firstly, to understand and document the needs which community groups have and to evaluate the support, advice, guidance and technical assistance currently available to these groups. Secondly, we aim to put in place advice and guidance resources and make practical recommendations for further work. We want to do this because community archives have great potential for digital inclusion. We believe this project will result in the development of a range of skills and confidence in the use of ICT, leading to enhanced self-esteem and employability. In the long-term we want to see the development of a significant resource of digitised local material suitable for use in lifelong learning and education.

We propose to do this pilot project in three stages namely, 1. Evaluation of needs; 2. Start-up groups; 3. Evaluation of the project and recommendations for the future.

Stage 1. Evaluation of needs

What do we want to do? We want to run a pilot project to evaluate the needs of a representative range of different community archive groups in Wales and to evaluate the software, systems, support and resources currently available to them. We want to identify examples of best practice and create a database of existing community archives in Wales.

Why do we want to do it? Community archives are about local history and this is an area which has proven very useful for digital inclusion. We have evidence that community archives in Wales need support. We want to know from community archives groups exactly what kind of support is most needed. This will enable us to target those areas in subsequent stages of this project, so that the digital inclusion benefits can be maximised.

How will we do it? We will employ three community archives support officers, who will conduct the evaluation. They will visit and gather information form a broad range of different community groups in Wales with established or potential community archives. This work will be done face-to-face rather than from a distance. They will report on the range of support and training needs identified by community archives groups in Wales. They will research publications and the findings of other pilot projects. They will communicate with software/systems suppliers and will observe the use of and try-out existing community archive software/systems and report on their relative strengths and weaknesses. They will identify and examine the effectiveness of existing training and support available to community archives in Wales. Culturenet Cymru and/or CyMAL will set up a Communities Wales website to house the findings and collected resources from this first stage of the project. Stage 2. Start-up groups

What do we want to do? We want to pilot the use of different community archive software/systems. We want to develop six start-up groups of community archives using different recommended software/systems and to test the findings and resources developed in stage 1. We want to know which systems work best for different types of community groups. We want to develop a set of easy-to-use on-line guides and resources which will support community archives in Wales. Why do we want to do it?

Working on local history gets people excited, but the use of digitisation equipment and management systems can be daunting for first time users. We know that community archives depend on reliable and easy-to-use software/systems to enable them to organise and develop their archives. They also need a system around which they can meet, contribute, discuss and collaborate. Many groups in Wales use one particular system, but there are three or four options currently available, all of which offer different features and present different technical problems. Community groups require guidance and support in using these different types of systems. We want to develop the systems, support and guidance they need so that they can keep on being excited about local history, without being put off by technical difficulties. In this way the digital inclusion benefits can be maximised.

How will we do it? Through the partnership's extensive range of contacts, we will identify six community groups who have expressed the desire to start their own community archives. Our community archive support officers will work with these groups and other support bodies on the ground such as local heritage officers, libraries and archives and assess the nature of the projects they wish to undertake. They will assess the make up of the group, existing ICT skills and training and other requirements. They will support the groups with decisions about choice of systems, purchasing hard-and-software and try to provide as much support and guidance as the group requires. They will develop a set of easy to use guidelines appropriate for each group and amend these guidelines as required. These guidelines and other resources will be added to the Communities Wales website for the use of and improvement by other community archives groups in Wales.

Stage 3. Evaluation of pilot project and recommendations

What do we want to do? We want to evaluate the success/usefulness of the resources created in stages 1 and 2. We want to develop a set of recommendations regarding practical steps which need to be taken to enable the heritage sector to support community archives in Wales.

Why do we want to do it? Firstly, in order to realise the long-term digital inclusion benefits of this project, we want to build on this pilot and make a significant impact on communities in Wales in the future. Secondly, as a group, we have long-term aims for the coordination and support of community archives in Wales and intend to work together to carry out the recommendations of this pilot project.

How will we do it? The community support officers will evaluate the outcomes of the project against the stated aims. Stakeholders drawn from local archives and heritage bodies will be asked to evaluate the outcomes of the project. Community groups will be consulted throughout the project and a log of their feedback will be kept. An independent body will be be asked to conduct an evaluation of the outcomes of the project. A list of recommendations for future activity and sustainability will be drawn up based on these evaluations.

Our long-term vision for community archives in Wales Wales already leads the way in community archives. They are springing up everywhere. It is our hope that, in the long term, this project will lead to improved digital inclusion by means of better coordination of community archives in Wales, better use and re-use of digital content generated by community archives, better systems/software available to community groups and greater sustainability of community archives.

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