This strategy is underpinned by the HRO Access and Learning Policy (Dec 2006) and needs to be read alongside that.
The latter sets out our vision for access and learning at HRO:
We actively seek to develop and increase awareness of the relevance and importance of archives and to encourage their use to inform and excite people. We want all the people of Hampshire and those people with an interest in Hampshire, to benefit from our archive service, wherever they live, whatever their needs may be.
It also sets out objectives and describes in detail the wide range of access and learning activity we offer.
The Access and Learning Policy remains valid following the integration of Hampshire Record Office with Local Studies to create Hampshire Archives and Local Studies from April 2008. This major organisational and cultural change creates opportunities for our access and learning and audience development work.
Other new developments also create such opportunities, including partnership work with Winchester Cathedral through the provision of an archives service (from April 2008), the Living Links community archives project (started Oct 2007), developments at Wessex Film and Sound Archive through the national Strategy for UK Screen Heritage, and the Culture, Communities and Rural Affairs departmental developments, current and future, including PUSH for Culture and Learning outside the Classroom and the opportunity provided by new developments such as the gallery and learning spaces at Winchester Discovery Centre.
There is an increased emphasis on partnership working, both within the department and also with external organisations such as Winchester City Council, which also have the aim of developing audiences.
This Audience Development Strategy builds on the Access and Learning Policy and does not aim to repeat it.
Hampshire Record Office (HRO) was set up in 1947 to preserve the growing collection of historical records relating to Hampshire and Hampshire families. Hampshire Archives Trust, a support organisation for the county’s archives, based at HRO and funded largely by Hampshire County Council, was established in 1986 and led to the creation in 1987 of Wessex Film and Sound Archive, also based at HRO, with a remit to collect materials relating to central southern England.
In 1993 HRO moved to a purpose-built, award-winning building conveniently located next to Winchester Railway Station. In spring 2008 HRO and the county’s Local Studies were integrated to create Hampshire Archives and Local Studies, following the redevelopment of Winchester Library into Winchester Discovery Centre, as part of a new local cultural offer.
Archives relating exclusively or primarily to Portsmouth or Southampton are found in the Portsmouth Records and Museums Service or Southampton City Archives, respectively.
HALS collections of original documents and printed secondary sources – including maps, plans, correspondence, registers, diaries, photographs, newspapers, directories – span 10 centuries, comprise a range of formats – paper, parchment, photographic, audio-visual and digital – and derive from a wide range of sources including local government, private estates, churches, schools, clubs, societies, businesses, charities. Treasures include the baptism entry for Jane Austen, a letter by Florence Nightingale as a child and her recorded voice in her later years, the unparalleled series of Winchester bishops’ ‘pipe’ or account rolls from 1208, and film of soldiers returning from the Boer War.
HRO has a high reputation among local authority archives, as a leading service. In 2006 HRO’s archives were Designated by the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council as a collection of national and international importance, including three collections of outstanding national and international significance: Winchester Bishopric collection, Winchester City archives and Wessex Film and Sound Archive. HALS has received a top rating in The National Archives self-assessment regime for local authority archives services on each occasion since this began (2006), ranking third in 2007 and again in 2008 (out of 124 authorities). (There was no assessment in 2009.)
HALS maintains excellent standards of access, offering the longest opening hours of any local authority archives service building in the country, and achieving Charter Mark status consistently since 2000 (at that time, one of only a few archives services to have gained the award).The Access and Learning Policy details how visitors can gain access to collections on site and remotely through the HALS website (www.hants.gov.uk/archives), including our online catalogue, and also details how people can come into contact with archives in a variety of ways through our proactive learning programmes, events and activities.
A decline in on site search room visitor figures over recent years is a national trend, caused by the increasing quantities of information available via the internet. In common with other local authority archives services, this has been the experience at HRO.
In recognition of our customers’ needs, during the last 20 years we have given particular emphasis to opening up our collections through cataloguing and creating online access to our catalogues, including through the Heritage Lottery Funded (HLF) national Access to Archives project. As a result, we have one of the lowest cataloguing backlogs of local authority archives services and all of our catalogued collections are now accessible online.
Our drive for online accessibility has anticipated the increasing demand for online information via the internet and has formed part of our strategy to reach out to audiences not just on site, but remotely as well. Acknowledging this increasing demand, we have put emphasis on creating and maintaining a dynamic website, and exploring ways to create digital access to documents. This has led to our HLF projects, Hampshire Photographic Project and Access Hampshire Heritage, creating digital access to a resource of 15,000 documents. We are currently exploring much wider digital access to documents in partnership with a commercial enterprise.
Also in recognition of our users’ needs, we have put resources into diversifying our customer offer through our access and learning programmes. In 2005 our organisational structure changed to create an Access and Learning Team with a Head of Access, in order to focus resources on this area, promoting archives and arranging activities to encourage people to enjoy and learn about archives in a variety of ways, both at HRO and across the county. Our Archive Education service and Wessex Film and Sound Archive increasingly engage in partnership projects to develop audiences, and Hampshire Archives Trust support and funding enables partnership projects which help develop audiences, including the current community archives project.
*This figure’s decrease is probably due to increasing importing of same data into our online catalogue.
**This year’s visitor figures are not comparable with other years as the searchroom service was completely closed for several weeks while we moved out and later moved back to the re-furbished searchroom; and we ran a much reduced service in between, from late November to March
The majority of visitors to the search room are family historians; others research house or local history, various topics for academic purposes, or specific issues relating to practical concerns such as establishing rights of way. The National Council on Archives Public Services Quality Group survey (see table below) supplies a profile of these visitors during a 2-week period in a given year, and recent figures show a more or less even balance of male and female; a high percentage of older people (55+), a growing number of younger users (24 and under); a majority white ethnic profile but with an increasing number of non-white users, and an increasing proportion of both new users and long-term users.
We have been collecting postcodes for search room visitors since 1 April 2005 (and of house numbers since 2008?) and have recently gained the facility to analyse this information through the MOSAIC marketing tool. Analysis for the period May-Oct 2007 and May-Oct 2008 shows a similar pattern. The top two categories of users are: ‘career professionals living in sought after locations’ and ‘older families living in suburbs’, and the lowest two categories are: ‘low income families living in estate based social housing’ and ‘older people living in social housing with high care needs’. There is a marked higher percentage of the category ‘educated, young, single people living in areas of transient populations’ than the Hampshire population profile (presumably due to the number of students researching the collections); the next two categories showing higher percentages than the Hampshire population profile are: ‘people living in rural areas far from urbanisation’ and ‘people living in social housing with uncertain employment in deprived areas’.
An ACORN profile was produced for the service (within the context of After Value – see below) in 2006 by profiling a list of postcodes of search room users (visits rather than visitors). This indicated a density of postcodes in the south east area, mainly sweeping from Hampshire to London, but with postcodes dotted over England, including the extremities, and through Scotland (apart from the Highlands). The visitor groups over-represented compared with the catchment population and also the largest groups of visitors, are: ‘flourishing families’, ‘secure families’, ‘affluent greys’ and ‘wealthy executives’. The last group is the largest in the catchment population and also the largest in terms of HRO visitors.
A balanced approach to audience development would be to continue to target existing users and also to try to target non or low users, but without concentrating on one category to the exclusion of others. The current ‘scatter-gun’ approach appears to succeed in catering for a range of audiences and needs, by provision of: a supportive self-directed research facility within the search room, open throughout the day, evenings and Saturdays; a supportive Archive Education Service for students and student teachers; a variety of events both on and off site, ranging from general interest talks to skill-developing workshops and special events linked to local or national campaigns; exhibitions on site and increasingly circulating to other sites; a website under constant development to provide advice, guides to collections and access to actual documents (eg audio clips); and promotion of archives and local studies to audiences via the media, eg through human stories and topical themes. (For details, see Access and Learning Policy.)
It is recommended that this approach be continued, but with further development catering for specific audiences.
A review of HRO search room opening hours is currently under way to ensure the search room service is as accessible as possible to individuals and groups wishing to use it and that we are targeting our resources in the best way to meet audience needs.
This may lead, for example, to facilitating research by groups (currently difficult due eg to noise issues), or providing further skills-developing sessions to help current users progress to more challenging documents. Both of these needs have been identified – the former suggestion was welcomed at the (November 2008) Customer Liaison Group, and the latter is borne out by persistent demand for follow-up sessions after workshops and the continued popularity of the regular lunchtime reading documents sessions.
Partnership working is particularly important for a service such as ours, where resources are limited but the potential to engage people is very significant. It is key to enabling us to reach wider audiences.
We have a history of partnership working with the services in our department, particularly libraries and museums, and we recognise the excellent opportunity this provides for reaching out into the community, across library and museum sites, helping to offset the constraints we experience as a one-site service.
Such work has taken the form of undertaking talks and workshops, regular drop-in sessions and circulating exhibitions for such venues, but also joint projects such as museums and archives exhibitions, regular WFSA contributions to museums exhibitions, and the Gypsy Heritage project. Recently we have started to build a stronger relationship with Countryside and Arts.
The development of discovery centres has provided an opportunity for a more strategic approach. We initiated a programme of digitising specific HRO materials for local access at discovery centres and we are currently developing strong links with Winchester Discovery Centre (WDC), our close neighbour. The new series of joint family history monthly workshops there has proved popular, attracting people who might not normally consider coming to HRO and possibly also those who perceive a library environment as less daunting than a record office. We will continue to contribute to the WDC events programme, and in other ways, such as staff shadowing, to help promote HALS and develop our audiences. We also participate in the WDC gallery exhibitions planning group which has facilitated our significant input into gallery exhibitions, especially the major Hampshire Treasures exhibition mentioned below.
Similarly a more strategic approach has been facilitated with Museums and HALS is represented on various Museums audience development planning groups such as the Strategic Exhibitions Group. Hampshire Treasures, a high-priority exhibition showcasing Museums and Archives collections in the WDC gallery (Mar-May 09) represented a milestone as the first such project to exhibit originals from both collections. This has already led to the demand for original archives for further exhibitions at WDC.
The creation of the R&H (now CCRA) Department has led to increased cross-service working especially through projects such as the Anne Frank exhibition, the National Year of Reading, Culture-all and the Family History Festival. Such projects are welcomed by us for their value in audience development and also for the funding they can sometimes provide (eg for exhibitions and events).
Such cross-service working is set to increase and develop. We will continue to develop partnership working across the department, supporting the corporate and departmental agendas for learning, culture, personalisation of services, rural deprivation, and children’s and youth priorities, in order to meet the needs of our audiences.
Museums and Libraries staff visits to HRO over the last few years have helped increase colleagues’ understanding of HALS and in turn enable them to guide customers towards HRO.
We benefit from links with a range of organisations in order to promote our services and reach audiences. These include the media (eg our regular column in the Hampshire Chronicle, Radio Solent, WFSA material supplied for television companies), local universities and Hampshire Genealogical Society. We work with a range of local groups in a variety of ways, from advising on oral history to more extensive partnership working, such as the Victoria County History project, the Hyde 900 celebration and the English Project. The current Living Links project has extended our capacity for a sustained approach to working in partnership with communities across both Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.
HRO has long recognised the value of external partnerships. In 1986 Hampshire Archives Trust was set up to facilitate the building of a network of support for Hampshire’s archives and partnership will remain a key characteristic of the Trust into the future. The creation of the Trust has been a way to reach out more widely to audiences, leading to a strong membership (550) of both individuals and corporate members, proactive advisory and rescue work for people responsible for archives – another segment of our audiences – as well as practical support to help indirectly in audience development: an endowment to create a ‘rescue’ fund and other donations.
The Trust’s fund-raising aspect has supported HRO in ground-breaking audience-development projects in partnership with the Trust and other organisations including HLF (eg Hampshire Photographic Project and Access Hampshire Heritage). One such project, the Community Archives Project, Living Links, is currently playing an important role in developing community audiences including ethnic minority and hard to reach groups. It is hoped such work can be sustained beyond the life of the project (Jan 11).
The new partnership arrangement with Winchester Cathedral creates scope to develop audiences.
We preserve and make accessible the archives of a number of local authorities, some of which are HAT members; one – Winchester City Council (WCC) – contributes to the funding of the service. Through this arrangement we have developed strong links with WCC. Occasional visits, exhibitions and joint events with WCC have contributed to developing local audiences, and other opportunities have been explored.
As the county’s leading family history organisation, HGS is one of HALS’s key stakeholders, in view of the high number of family history users of HALS. We maintain a good relationship with the group, regularly consulting them, supporting their annual open day, giving talks to their local groups, and giving them special access to original documents to compile indexes which we make available for customers. They recently participated in the Family History Fair.
HRO is unique in local authorities as a resource for film and sound archives and Wessex Film and Sound Archive (WFSA) has built up an extremely significant collection – one of those highlighted in the Designation award. Film and sound are very popular, as evidenced by attendances at WFSA film-shows and the appeal of archive film shown on television; they can be enjoyed more immediately than many documents whose old writing can pose a barrier. They are a superb resource to be enjoyed by anyone. Such material is already used in education DVD compilations, exhibitions, TV and radio programmes, but this material has great further potential for audience development, resources permitting.
WFSA needs to look externally for support to realise this potential. The national Strategy for UK Screen Heritage is providing a way to support WFSA through a proposed regional archive development plan to digitise films, with ‘Revitalising the Regions’ funding. The creation of a national Digital Film Archive Fund is creating opportunities for WFSA material to be made accessible through partnership projects with a range of local organisations.
Our Archive Education Service provides a valuable resource for Hampshire schools and colleges, including developing learning materials, such as DVDs, linked to the National Curriculum. Increasingly the service works in partnership with educational organisations, museums and others, to develop a range of creative projects exploring learning. We also work with student teachers and advise local university students on research topics and methods.
Over the last several years we have developed a programme of family workshops throughout the year, mainly based at HRO but also at WDC and the Museums Service’s Education Centre at Gosport, SEARCH.
The service has a role to play in delivering the government and corporate agendas for young people, including PUSH 4 Culture, Learning outside the Classroom and Cared for Children.
Archives support wellbeing through enjoyment and learning; they can be powerful tools in reminiscence work, and can contribute to the development of skills, including numeracy and literacy.
Our Hampshire Archives Volunteers Scheme, launched in 2007, provides a formal framework for our long-held practice of enabling people to experience voluntary work within the service. This activity benefits both the individuals – through developing skills, enjoyment and learning – and also HALS, through useful work undertaken. There is scope for developing volunteer work further, both on and off site.
The value of our dynamic website has already been referred to. We have also started to explore video-conferencing in regard to work with schools. Digital technology is constantly evolving new ways to reach out to audiences and we need to take advantage of such means to engage with people, especially younger people who have an affinity with newer technologies.
Audience development can be significantly supported by marketing and promotional activity, which is therefore an important area of focus.
Marketing/ promoting of HALS falls within the remit of the Head of Access with the support of the Access and Learning Team. There is also a CCRA Marketing Manager and team.
HRO recently participated in After Value, a two-year partnership project by MLA South East and the audience development agency, amh, to improve the understanding of the marketing needs of museums, libraries and archives and devise sustainable means of meeting these needs.
This process gave the opportunity to consider the five identified steps in the marketing planning framework (goal setting, review, strategy setting, implementation and evaluation) in relation to HRO and resulted in identifying marketing objectives which are broadly incorporated within this audience development strategy.
HALS also took part in After Value II (2007-08), which sought to support a number of the participating organisations, including HALS, in the implementation step of the marketing planning framework.
In view of the recent integration of archives and local studies, the key activity identified for this purpose was branding and communications and specifically the planned preview events for customers prior to reopening the service. Options for further product development were also explored; some of these have already been acted on and others are incorporated into this strategy. A follow-up evaluation meeting with amh took place in summer 08, and the HRO/HALS case study was recorded on the MLA South East widely distributed legacy DVD.
HALS is proactive in writing press releases and has the support of the CCRA Press Officer to promulgate these to the press. HALS collections abound in stories and there is endless scope for supplying these to the press. We also contribute a regular, monthly column to the Hampshire Chronicle, a regular article on history of place to HCC’s Hampshire Now (circulated to all Hampshire households), and regular articles and reports to a number of local journals, all of which are well-received. There is scope for circulating the same regular reports (eg on newly-received collections and events) more widely, particularly to local history society journals.
We advertise events through the departmental web events listing and online newsletter, the Museums and Archives brochure, our own events leaflet and a variety of local publications and a number of websites, and we circulate our events leaflet and posters to targeted sites including departmental venues such as libraries and museums. We have no budget to produce our events leaflet other than in photocopy format but our recent purchase of Publisher software has enabled us to upgrade this leaflet and other promotional resources, subject to resources.
As already mentioned, we have recently gained departmental help to analyse postcodes with a view to building up a better understanding of our user profile in order to enable specific targeting, where resources permit, of both existing and non or low users. Data needs to continue to be gathered, analysed and the results reported, monitored and, where feasible, used for audience development purposes, with the recognition that HALS has no budget for advertising.
Evaluation is helpful in determining whether the services/ events we provide meet the needs of our audiences, shaping future developments, making the case for developments, making improvements and identifying how people find out about us, so that we can make best use of advertising methods. We seek regular informal feedback from search room visitors and conduct the PSQG survey detailed above, and we evaluate some of our activities and events through brief questionnaires. To make best use of such feedback we need to ensure we use a framework that focuses on outcomes, such as Generic Learning/Social Outcomes.
We consult twice a year with our Customer Liaison Group (CLG) and annually with the Hampshire Genealogical Society, we undertake the PSQG visitor survey every 18 months and provide opportunities for our on-site and web visitors to give feedback at any time. We also consult periodically in other ways such as via our support organisation, Hampshire Archives Trust, or through other networks such as the recent Living Links survey of community organisations.
We need to ensure those we consult with are representative of our customer base and also of those who are not yet customers. To this end we ensure we recruit appropriate members for our CLG, including a non user, although this has proved difficult to achieve. Following integration with Local Studies we recruited a former Local Studies customer whose input has already proved helpful.
Marc2009; updated December 2009 and March 2010