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Domhnall Sheoc and Mairi with family at 25 North Shawbost, Lewis. Courtesy of CEATS-Siabost, the West Side Society, Lewis and Tasglann nan Eilean

Tasglannan Coimhearsnachd: Cothroman agus Dùbhlain

Community Archives: Opportunities and Challenges

With the generous support of the Heritage Lottery Fund and in partnership with Tasglann nan Eilean/Hebridean Archives and the Archives and Records Association UK & Ireland, the Scottish Council on Archives held a Community Archives conference at Lews Castle Museum and Archive in Stornoway in June 2017.

Community archives encompass diverse organisations, collections and activities. They offer opportunities to inspire learning and enhance understanding, through the community’s active engagement with their own heritage.

This two-day conference was aimed at anyone with an interest in community archives and heritage, from professional archivists, librarians, curators and heritage workers to independent community groups.

Through a range of case studies and presentations, conference participants will consider how community archives and conventional archive organisations can collaborate and support one another to achieve common goals. Speakers will provide insights on:

  • Making the ‘intangible’ tangible - oral history and sound archives
  • The innovative use of technology
  • Collaborative techniques and partnership models
  • Creating and using support networks
  • Past successes and future possibilities for community archives.

SPEAKERS: Find out more about our speakers.


Conference Programme (click on the title to view the presentation, where available):

14 JUNE 2017

WELCOME - Seonaid McDonald, Tasglannaiche/ Archivist, Tasglann nan Eilean/ Hebridean Archives, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar

INTRODUCTION - Linda Ramsay, SCA Trustee and Preservation Committee Convenor

INTRODUCTION - Martyn Wade, Heritage Lottery Fund Scotland Committee Member

Introducting the Community Archives and Heritage Group

John Chambers, Chief Executive, Archives and Records Association UK & Ireland

• ARA-UK Community Archives and Heritage Group
• Overview of network and its purpose, resources/guidance available and current activities in Scotland and UK
• How and why should community archives get involved and join the network?
• Archivists and Community Archives – benefits of working together?


Working Together to Hear Our Heritage

Amy McDonald, Engagement & Learning Co-ordinator, Connecting Scotland’s Sounds and Naomi Harvey, PhD Researcher, Scotland's Sounds

• Overview of the Connecting Scotland’s Sounds project
• Future and Upcoming plans for Scotland’s Sound Archive
• How can community archives and heritage groups get involved/available training and resources
• Challenges and opportunities in setting out to establish a national sound archive 

Intangible Cultural Heritage in Action

Annie MacSween, Founder Comunn Eachdraidh Nis/ Ness Historical Society

• Origins of the Comainn Eachdraidh movement in the Western Isles
• What was the impetus and aims when CE Nis began 40 years ago?
• What has been achieved?
• What do they hope to achieve in future?

Dumfries and Galloway – A Regional Ethnology Study

Professor Gary West, Director of the European Ethnological Research Centre, University of Edinburgh, Dr Mark Mulhern, Reasearch Fellow, European Ethnological Research Centre, University of Edinburgh, and Margaret Smith, Volunteer Fieldworker

• Overview of the study
• Outline of the partnership model used - combining ‘official’ records with interviews, oral history recordings and community participation to create a picture of regional histories and identities
• Approach to fieldwork and training of volunteers

Ghosts in the Machine?

Dr Jan Merchant, Senior Archivist, University of Dundee

• Overview of ‘Voices of Dundee’ oral history project
• How and why was the project set up?
• Lessons learned?
• Outcomes and benefits to local community and archive
• Oral History Courses – distance learning available via CAIS


Opening Up the Archival Landscape of the Western Isles

Skills for the Future Traineeship at Tasglann nan Eilean

Seonaid McDonald, Archivist, Tasglann nan Eilean/ Hebridean Archives, and Shona MacLellan, SCA Skills for the Future Trainee, Tasglann nan Eilean

• Overview of development of the archive service and vision for its future progress
• Collaboration between archive service and community archives - how to develop existing links and what mutual benefits might be delivered
• Overview of Skills for the Future Traineeship – Traditional Skills
• Highlights of traineeship and skills development

Digitising the Collections of the National Galleries of Scotland and National Library of Scotland

Natalie Milor, Skills for the Future Project Coordinator, National Galleries of Scotland, Heather Fulton, Leyla Tecelli, Kit Guy, Ali Gowers, Helena Robson and Ioana Cosma, Skills for the Future Trainees, National galleries of Scotland

•  Overview of digitisation traineeship programme aims
• Stories from the studio: Scottish National Portrait Gallery, the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art 2 and the National Library of Scotland
• Digitisation training in action: The Certificate of Work Readiness projects

Practicalities, Metadata and Preservation 

Jamie Gaukroger, Am Baile Co-ordinator, and Debbie Potter, Trainee Archivist , Highland Archive Centre

• Case study of ‘Am Baile’ Digitisation Project - click here for more information
• Planning, procuring, metadata and preservation
• Outcomes of project and lessons learned