The time has come to reflect and officially bring to a close the York: Gateway to History project. It has been an incredible two years and we at Explore have come together as one Library and Archive service.
My role on the project is also coming to an end this week and I can’t believe how far we have travelled since that first week. So here is my personal journey on the project. Enjoy!
January 2014 – The activity plan strand of the project gets underway when I started as Community Collections & Outreach Archivist. I was daunted by the challenge but excited to get started!
February 2014 – We got straight in and worked with Lord Deramore’s Primary School in Heslington to unlock the history of the school and discover it’s place in the local community. We worked with three fantastic volunteers who wrote a whopping 17,000 word resource and presented it to the school.
June 2014 – By now I’m travelling all over the city by bus, car and on foot to meet all kinds of different community groups. By the end of 2015 we had created a network of 170 individuals from 78 different community groups. You can see where I went during the project on this handy map!
We also started working with the York Normandy Veterans Association on a project to record their memories and preserve their archives for future generations. In 2015 we hosted a celebration evening for the Veterans and created a special short film about the project.
July 2014 – To help manage over 400 community archives and to support outreach activities in 2015, Georgie and Francesca came onboard as Community Collection Assistants!
October 2014 – We launched the Poppleton History Society archive in Poppleton Library with an event to showcase the collection and network with members of the local community.
November 2014 – To support First World War commemorations we worked with York’s Alternative History Society to launch our pop-up banner exhibition. The banners went on display at York City Screen Cinema before being toured across all our libraries during 2015.
January 2015 – We opened our brand new Archives & Local History service at York Explore! During 2015 we welcomed a grand total of 94,858 visitors to the service who came to look at archives, browse our local history books and research their family histories.
February 2015 – We hosted the first of our Gateway to Your Archives workshops. In total 98 representatives from 52 different community groups attended a workshop in 2015 and 98% said they felt more supported by Explore as a result.
One of the Gateway to your Archives workshops in progress!
If you are interested in learning about how to manage your community archive, all new resources will be launched onto the Explore website next month. Included in this will be our new training films, on YouTube now!
March 2015 – Alongside the Workshops came the Archives Roadshow. We toured all 17 of Explore’s libraries and asked people ‘What Should York Remember?’.
We gathered 600 responses to the question and even created a vox-pop short film featuring local peoples thoughts!
May 2015 – We said goodbye to Francesca and hello to Jenny as Community Collections Assistant. Jenny took over responsibility for cataloguing and supporting our outreach activities.
June 2015 – To help us catalogue our community archives we set up a Community Collections volunteer project. We got 8 volunteers in total who worked to catalogue 5 large collections adding up to 99 boxes, 203 volumes and 32 rolls!
The volunteers also worked to create content for the Voices of the Archives booklet and pop-up banner exhibition. They provided quotes and unique insights into our community collections along with our community partners and researchers.
August 2015 – We worked with York Learning throughout the project to help adult learners explore the archives and use them as a starting point for art and creative writing. Learners on an art project explored the local history of Acomb to create a piece of public art in Lidgett Grove Church and we were invited along to the launch. A local resident even made a special cake!
September 2015 – We commissioned artist Emily Harvey to interpret the 600 responses from our ‘What Should York Remember?’ activity. She created York Panorama: What York Means to Us which is a tactile representation of how York’s residents and visitors view the history and culture of the City.
It’s a permanent legacy to the project and is available on the 1st floor at York Explore Library and Archive!
November 2015 – We finished off the project by hosting a celebration event at York Explore. City Archivist Victoria Hoyle and HLF Board Member Sue Mendus gave inspirational talks to our community partners and we all shared a drink to celebrate our success!
So here we are in March 2016 and we have completed our evaluation report and submitted it to the Heritage Lottery Fund. It was a chance to reflect on everything we have done and think about the future.
Sarah in her final week at Explore with the completed evaluation report
All that is left to say is thank you to everyone that has come on this journey with us! It has been incredible and we couldn’t have done any of this without your support and dedication. We at Explore have an exciting future with new projects, partnerships and catalogued collections. You can take a look at our ambitious plans in our Access Plan. If you have any questions or comments about the project please do get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org