The Assynt Field Club, a local society for those interested in natural history and ecology, has a collection of material gathered over many years, in the form of physical records, slides, maps, diary entries, logs and many other information records. Many of these records are the work of Pat and Ian Evans, who also received sighting records, photographs and other information from field club members, Assynt residents, visitors and field specialists. Much of information pre-dates the common availability of digital formats. The Field Club is aware of the archival value of all this information, but the task of digitising it all and making it accessible is a huge one, almost certainly beyond the scope of voluntary work to get it all done. The Field Club has long been aware of the possibilities the Assynt Community Digital Archive represents to their archival requirements.
The suggestion was made to seek funding for a pilot exercise, and the North Highland Initiative was approached to see how such an exercise would fit with their priorities. The intent was that the Field Club would run the project, using the facilities of the Assyt Community Digital Archive. NHI was enthusiastic about the proposal, and it was agreed to fund a short project of 22 days as a pilot to determine the value, scope and achievability of such an archiving project. A local resident, Avril Haines, was selected as the archivist, from a very capable and satisfyingly large list of applicants. Avril's training in digital techniques and archiving principles started in January 2014. The project is run under the auspices of NHI, with local oversight by the Field Club representatives, mainly Ian Evans and Andy Summers. Eilidh Todd of NHI has been wonderful regarding the administration and facilitation of the post, and Ian Mitchell very helpful with candidate selection.
At the end of the pilot, a report will be drawn up to lay out the learnings of the project and to determine criteria for future such work, if applicable.
This is a great example a local social group making use and "owning" a section of the Assynt Community Digital Archive, achieving their own ends, but also contributing towards a greater whole. For further information, email Stevan- ku.oc.evalsnitnull@evalsnit
The Assynt Learning Centre has very pro-actively been running a series of courses for older folk to get the most out of their computers, and to promote understanding of digital technologies. Part of this has been to create digital content, with the course participants keen to allow their views and comments to be held in the community digital archive. As promised in an earlier post, permission has been obtained to post an example of the resulting video snippets here. The archive holds both a copy of the photograph being discussed and the video discussion. This is such a wonderful way to add meaning to photos, it is hoped to do more of this in future.
The Assynt Community Digital Archive came of age as a community project, to some extent, when the local Learning Centre, also a community project, offered to add Archive Training to the winter learning programme. Initially 6 people signed up for the training, but the number varied up and down over the five weeks and 10 hours of training.
The course covered the need for community archiving, archiving principles, file formats, legal issues and lots and lots of practice archiving. The training was done on the Learning system at the Assynt Community Digital Archive, a system that is the same as the production system, an easy addition to the Archive, as all services run as virtual systems.
Trainees came with a range of expectations and motivations, from seeing what Archiving was about, to those wanting to learn to use the Archive for research. Some trainees were just there out of general interest, but made interesting contributions tot he group anyway. One trainee has signed up as a fully fledged, fully trained Archivist, who will be archiving the research he has carried out into the history of his immediate area, and has offered to be a general archivist for contributed information. Another trainee will be investigating the possibility of gaining access to a collection of information that is currently in a different form. If she is successful, it will be a great addition to the Archive.
The training went so well that an extra day was agreed on, where further details of running the Archive were investigated. Reports from trainees were positive, and the training was done in a relaxed but focused atmosphere.
Thanks to Sharon and Sandra at Assynt Learning for arranging it all.
As part of the winter learning programme developed by Assynt Learning, training in the use of the Archive will be delivered in February and March 2013. It is a sign of the community nature of the Archive that Assynt Learning's welcome involvement is taking place. Anyone interested in taking part should contact Sharon or Sandra at the Leisure Centre on 844123