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Archives are documents created in the normal course of the life of an institution or individual in order for them to function, and as such provide a historical record. The word ‘archives’ can refer to the documents themselves, or to the organisations which hold them.

There are nearly 200 archive holding organisations in the North West, with 45 main archive offices. These range from small community archive groups to large national institutions.

In the North West there are:

  • 107 museums and libraries holding archive collections
  • 5 business archives
  • 26 specialist archives (e.g. religious, relating to one institution or person)
  • 22 local authority archive offices
  • 18 higher education archives
  • at least 15 community archives

Over 935,000 people annually visit local authority archives, with nearly 177,000 of these being in the North West. Of these visitors, 96% rated the archive service good or very good.

This year has seen a 3.5% increase in visitors to local authority archives nationally, with the North West having the highest percentage of the population using archives of any of the regions. In addition over 112,000 people made enquiries to local authority archives in the region last year, in person and by telephone and email. This is a massive 31% increase on the previous year.

In 2002 the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) was invited by the government to set up a Task Force to enquire into the state of archives in the UK. The aim of the Archives Task Force was to open up archives, ensuring they are relevant and accessible to everyone. We are working with MLA to deliver the challenging vision outlined in the final report, Listening to the Past, Speaking to the Future.

For more information, see:

Regional Archive Strategy
Forward Together 2001-2004, the regional archive strategy, aimed to improve provision and enhance the experience of archive users in the region.
Continuing the scheme for museums in the region, and extending the implementation of the scheme to libraries and archives.
Access all Areas
Access All Areas is a major project, currently under development, to improve access to archives in the region, across around 24 archive offices.
Community archives
The growth of community archives has increased dramatically in recent years, as people seek to celebrate and record their past and that of their communities.
Archives Gateway – finding archives online
The Archives Task Force has proposed the creation of a single Archives Gateway which will “create easy access for all to a treasure house of knowledge”.
North West Archives Conservation and Preservation Needs Audit
Since November 2003 we have been analysing the conservation and preservation needs of 25 archive repositories in the region.
Logjam – an audit of uncatalogued archives in the North West
Producing catalogues of archive collections is the bedrock of the work of an archive service.
Archive Awareness Campaign
Building on the success of last year’s North West Archives Festival, archives are once again joining together to open their doors even wider to the public.
NEWSPLAN database
NEWSPLAN is a joint project between the British Library and the English regions, which over the past 10 years has recorded all collections of local and regional newspapers in libraries and other repositories in the UK and Ireland.
Pilot Economic Impact Study
MLA North West is working in partnership with Bolton Metropolitan Borough Council to undertake a detailed assessment of the economic impact and value of the local authority run museums, libraries and archives within Bolton
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Related Links:

Archives Task Force 

ARCHON – Searchable list of archive offices 

For archive enquiries, please contact:

Janice Tullock, Archives Development Officer
T: 01925 625062

St George's Hall, Liverpool Stockton Heath Library
Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester

Supported by Museums, Libraries and Archives Council

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