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Lambeth launches landmark digital archive
Lambeth Council’s Archives service and the digital publisher Sedasoft have launched the Lambeth Landmark Digital Archive (www.lambethlandmark.com), a Web site containing more than 6,000 images of London family life, people, culture, music and history. Many images are unique and are being unveiled for the first time. Visitors to the Web site can order colour and black-and-white photographs from the archive for as little as £8.
Adam Blackie, Interim Head of Lambeth IT, added, “This one of the first systems of its kind to be fully compliant with government guidelines on Web sites and the Disability Discrimination Act. It will give council-wide benefits and may be useful in other areas such as housing or planning where digital solutions are required to access material. Sedasoft’s experience in the digital media field along with their speed in delivering the solution on budget and in under six weeks was critical to its success. This is another key ICT service improvement within Lambeth underlining its commitment to e-government by the delivery of services online by 2005.”
Jon Newman, Archives Manager for Lambeth, said: “We live in a visually-orientated society. These stunning images bring London’s past to life in a way that written records alone cannot. The great joy of having the collection available online is that it opens our history to a modern audience, on a truly massive scale, around the world. Some of these photographs have not been brought out of a filing cabinet for generations but now you can see, and even buy, them online.”
David Bosdet, Managing Partner of digital publishing specialists Sedasoft, said; “Using our SiteEngine publishing solution meant that we were able to deliver a cost-effective, ”out of the box” archive platform with sophisticated content management functionality in just a few weeks. We are very excited about this product because it has huge potential for applications in local government, academic institutions, museums and cultural groups. As a small creative company, it was great to dispel the myth that content management software always requires a complex and lengthy implementation cycle involving an army of consultants to deliver it.”
The complete Landmark Archive contains more than 30,000 original images of Lambeth in photographs, drawings, prints and watercolours. Many images have been donated by local people to record and share their family history with the local community and for the future custodianship of the archive collection; 6,000 of these images are already within the digital archive and more will follow. There is a strong representation of Black History and the entertainment industry reflecting that from the early 19th century Lambeth was regarded as the “West End over the water”, drawing Londoners to its cheap and cheerful attractions. Charlie Chaplin was just one of the international stars with links to the borough. The image collection also records some critical points in Britain’s Black History, such as the first performances by the Black Shakespearean actor Ira Aldridge at a Lambeth theatre. There are also many historically significant visual records of the experiences of Black families making a new home in South London during the 1950s and 1960s.
The Lambeth Landmark Digital Archive was funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund. This Web site, with the introduction of e-commerce, is an extension of a service previously available in Lambeth’s local libraries.
New research reveals extent of support for basic skills in museums, archives and libraries
A new report funded by Resource: The Council for Museums, Archives and Libraries identifies for the first time the very considerable level of support for adult learners provided by museums, archives and libraries in England.
“Mapping the territory: a baseline study of the ability of museums, archives and libraries to contribute to the Government’s targets for adult basic skills in England” highlights the important contribution made by museums, archives and libraries to the targets set out in Skills for Life, the Government’s adult basic skills strategy. Amongst its key findings are that:
84 per cent of responding museums, archives and libraries have some type of outreach or promotion to help reach adults with basic skills needs;
75 per cent of respondents believe that museums, archives and libraries should support adult basic skills;
68 per cent of responding museum, archive and library organizations are engaged in partnerships which aim to improve adult basic skills; and
78 per cent exploit technology to improve access for adults with basic skills needs.
The report, which is published by the National Literacy Trust, establishes for the first time baseline information on adult basic skills-related activities in museums, archives and libraries, and illustrates the wide variety of approaches taken by the sector.
Sue Wilkinson, Director of Learning and Access at Resource said: “Mapping the Territory shows clearly that our sector as a whole has an enormous contribution to make in supporting adult basic skills. We already had evidence on the importance of libraries in this area, but this new report shows for the first time that museums and archives have an important role to play. All three domains are keen to do more.
“Adult basic skills training will only succeed if people feel that they need it, want it and can access it in ways that suit them. This report contains case studies which show how museums, archives and libraries stimulate and motivate people to re-engage with learning and how they work in a variety of ways with many different partners to support people’s basic skills needs.”
Julia Strong, Deputy Director of the National Literacy Trust, said: “It is really encouraging to find that museums, archives and libraries are aware of their potential to support adults with basic skills needs but there is clearly much to do to turn this into reality. We will be taking this forward in libraries through the Vital Link adult literacy programme, which is being funded through Resource as part of the Framework for the Future strategy for public libraries.”
The full report of “Mapping the territory” and case studies are available at: www.literacytrust.org.uk/mapping/index.html