DCDC 2017 – Beyond access

by Katherine Pearson

Notes from Discovering Collections Discovering Communities conference at the Lowry in Salford Nov 2017.


The need to deliver more than just access to collections was the rallying cry of most at the conference. A multitude of diverse ways to entice and engage audiences in meaningful ways were shared from the platform and discussed over coffee. A particular highlight for me were the club nights used to highlight the love shared at The Caravan Club and prosecutions that followed in the 1930’s as part of The National Archives and National Trust’s Queer City programme.

As always, running alongside this creative effort, we were constantly reminded of the necessity to capture and articulate the social, cultural and economic impact of such endeavours. This I feel remains more of a challenge than actually making a difference but one that we must endure and address.

The role of new technologies in helping to preserve, manage and engage audiences ran through most discussions. Give our role in helping organisations exploit the engagement opportunities mobile technologies offer, I enjoyed learning about the different ways digital technologies were being utilised to support content production as well as engagement. This included the work undertaken by Wikimedia UK to diversity content shared via Wikipedia and the work of the Library of Trinity College Dublin to use the publication of some of their archive materials to deliver a truly engaging and in-depth conversation about the 1916 Easter Rising via their ‘Changed Utterly’ blog programme.

All of this of course is only possible if an archive exists and can be accessed. And so to the inspirational Endangered Archives Programme run by the British Library and the scrupulous work being undertaken by The Wiener Library to translate from German to English the testimonies of those persecuted during the Holocaust. Without this critical work the voices and stories of many cultures and communities will be lost to us forever.

My first but not last visit to DCDC. Thank you.


Published by:
Katherine Pearson

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