Exploring precious archive record at Stornoway conference

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Throughout the Western Isles, local history societies are thriving, so nowhere is more appropriate than Stornoway to host an event showcasing innovative community archive projects from across Scotland.

The conference on June 14 and 15th will take place in the historic Lews Castle, recently restored and home to Scotland’s first Gaelic-led museum and Tasglann nan Eilean (Hebridean Archive).

Lucy Casot, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) Scotland, said: “The Heritage Lottery Fund is delighted to support a conference that brings together so many excellent examples of communities engaging directly with their heritage.

“The conference also showcases the impact of HLF investment in places and people – both Lews Castle and the achievements of Skills for the Future programme.

The conference marks the culmination of the three-year, Scottish Council on Archives’ Opening Up Scotland’s Archives project.

Supported by the HLF Skills for the Future programme, this traineeship scheme has sought to improve skills and develop the Scottish archives sector.

Many of the eighteen traineeships over the past three years have focussed on engagement and outreach, and connecting communities to their heritage through archival collections.

The project has been a great success, and it is fitting that we will hear from both a current trainee, Shona MacLellan, based at Tasglann nan Eilean, and a former trainee, Naomi Harvey, now part of the Scotland’s Sounds oral history project at the National Library of Scotland.

The National Galleries of Scotland’s own Skills for the Future trainees will also be taking part.

Irene O’Brien, Chair of the Scottish Council on Archives, said: “Community Archives are an important part of the incredibly diverse record of Scotland’s documented national memory.

“This event will be a great opportunity to share ideas and make new connections.”

Speakers will explore community archive projects from the Highlands and Islands to Dumfries and Galloway.

Through a range of case studies and presentations, conference participants will consider how local history groups and conventional archives can collaborate to achieve common goals.

There will be a range of speakers including representatives of ‘Connecting Scotland’s Sounds’, the National Library of Scotland’s ambitious initiative to establish a National Sound Archive and Annie McSween, Chair of Comunn Eachdraidh Nis, the longest established local history society in the Western Isles.

On the second day, delegates will have the opportunity to visit a number of local groups and landmarks, and see community archives directly.

Keynote speaker John Chambers, Chief Executive of the Archives and Records Association (UK and Ireland), looks forward to promoting continuing and close collaboration between archivists and community archives.

He said: “There are similar challenges faced by archive services and collecting communities.

“Our Community Archives and Heritage Group offers an excellent network of support and expertise to progress common goals around increasing community engagement and the diversity of collections.”

The conference is aimed at anyone with an interest in community archives and heritage, from professional archivists, librarians, curators and heritage workers to independent community groups.

For more information visit: website