ACCESS, AUDIENCE DEVELOPMENT AND LEARNING POLICY
1.1 Archives provide rich and vital sources of information about past and present life in Ceredigion. This information is essential in helping to foster and inspire a sense of place, time and belonging. Archives help to bring the past to life, help us to understand why our present world is as it is and support the role of today's citizen.
1.2 The role of the Ceredigion Archives is to collect and preserve Ceredigion's irreplaceable written heritage and to make it widely available to the people of the county and its visitors. Through our work we support formal, self-directed and informal learning by people of all ages and levels of ability.
1.3 Ceredigion Archives is committed to promoting and increasing the understanding, use and enjoyment of archives by encouraging more people to come to archives and find in them a fascinating insight into our heritage and culture.
1.4 We also have a clear commitment to supporting the learning and development of our staff so that they can help to provide a knowledgeable and enjoyable experience for visitors to our service and for people using archives at a distance.
1.5 In the archive context, access, audience development and learning go hand in hand. Without the first, we cannot achieve the second or the third. Improving, facilitating and enhancing physical as well as remote and virtual access to the archive collections in our care is a fundamental objective of the Service.
2. Policy Aims
2.1 The policy aims have been structured to reflect the generic social and learning outcomes of Inspiring Learning for All. These are:
2.2 To promote equality of access to the content of archive collections and provide equality of opportunity to make personal use of them by:
• providing and developing services and environments, which are welcoming, user friendly and knowledgeable and which support the needs of new and different kinds of users
• enriching people's lives and inspire them through acquiring knowledge and developing related skills
• consulting with existing audiences to identify their learning needs and expectations and develop approaches to meet those needs successfully
• reaching new audiences who are currently not engaged with archives, recognizing that appreciation of their value does not always have to be through personal use
2.3 To encourage the use of archives for learning and enjoyment by:
• promoting and developing in others an appreciation and awareness of the rich archival heritage of Ceredigion and stimulating an understanding and enjoyment of what archives have to offer
• developing innovative ways of interpreting and using archive collections for learning and enjoyment at all levels and by all ages
• seeking to collaborate with others across the heritage sector to improve, develop and enhance learning opportunities
2.4 To support the delivery of corporate objectives and to contribute positively towards the objectives of the Community Services Section
• To ensure that our staff have appropriate skills and awareness to ensure equality of service provision
• To support staff in acquiring the knowledge and skills necessaryto ensure valuable and enjoyable learning experiences for our audiences
3. Policy Direction
3.1 This policy seeks to develop further the considerable progress which the Archive Service has made over the last 11 years in the three related areas of access, audience development and learning.
3.2 We will continue to consult with our customers and partners to ensure that we build upon the successes of the past and learn from activities where we have been less successful.
3.3 As with all other archive services, we will seek to attract new audiences for archives so that more people can benefit from the information and enjoyment which archives can offer. We also recognize the significance of working more closely with local
communities and community groups to offer support and encouragement for local projects.
3.4 We will work with Archives and Records Council Wales to strengthen, promote and advance the use and appreciation of archives in Wales.
3.5 We will not neglect the areas of current strength and support, which lie with lifelong learners and older people who have more time to devote to archive related activities. Ensuring that we can maintain, satisfy and develop their interests will continue to be a key priority for the Archive Service.
3.6 Our access, audience development and learning activities need to reflect clearly the good practice identified for cultural services in the work of CyMAL and in MLA's Inspiring Learning for All framework.
4.1 Our staff training and development policy focuses on enabling our staff to deliver our services efficiently and effectively by ensuring that they have the requisite knowledge to carry out their respective roles. Regular and informal awareness and training sessions are designed to help our staff to provide a courteous, knowledgeable and friendly service. We also seek to build competencies to ensure confidence in the ability of staff to support learning activity in formal and informal ways.
5.1 Evaluation and consultation are fundamental to continuing improvement and to the success of this policy. We evaluate all our activities and public events for their learning as well as for other outcomes. To help us to do this, we have improved and will continue to develop the evaluation skills of staff.
5.2 Methods of consultation about our services are regularly reviewed to ensure that user comments and views inform the development of our service and its activities.
6.1 Successful partnerships are vital to promote the information, practical, heritage and cultural value of archives.
6.2 Successful informal partnerships are made with our growing number of volunteers as part of our volunteer scheme. We see the continuation and expansion of volunteer working and work experience placements as ideal opportunities to attract a wider range of new
users to archives, as well as giving regular archive users the opportunity to put something back into archives.
7. Policy review
7.1 This policy will be reviewed by 2009.
Ceredigion Archives - 40 years of preserving the past for the future - and counting