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.
Designation 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.
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