Fake News, Mental Health and Escaping the Library: Civic Mission in Archives and Libraries

“City and College should stand, shoulder to shoulder, facing the problems of life together”

These words were written by a member of the Cardiff University Settlement in 1906. The settlement was a radical experiment in education and friendship between the University and its immediate neighbours. 113 years later, these words still sum up why we are committed to working with audiences beyond our walls.

Over the last year, Cardiff University Libraries and Archives has been researching how to make our services and collections more appealing, accessible and useful to audiences outside academia.

To test some of our ideas, we’ve been running a number of pilot projects over the summer, aimed at creating opportunities to:

  • Enjoy our libraries and archives
  • Encourage responses to our collections
  • Link people and resources

Here’s a look at what we’ve been up to:

Bringing Edward Thomas’ Archive to the Senedd

As an academic establishment, it’s so important for us to show how archives and libraries can spark creativity and reflection, as well as research and education.

As part of Literature Wales’ Holy Glimmers festival, we were joined by literary critic Jafar Iqbal and pupils from Fitzalan High School. Together, we explored letters and poems from Edward Thomas’ archive – discussing Mental Health, Family and Conflict in the poet’s work and creating original works, including poetry and literary criticism.

We presented this work to a welcoming crowd at the Senedd some weeks later. The class were given a special tour of the Siambr, and also took the chance to have their say on the Welsh Youth Parliament’s wall (pupils wanted less homework, and for us to be kinder to refugees).

Cyflwyno ein gwaith ar lwyfan y Senedd / Sharing our work on the Senedd stage

This programme of work was a small example of how libraries and archives can be catalysts for new creative work – and that we can share that new work with wider audiences when we can collaborate with institutions like Literature Wales.

Library Escape Room

One of our aims for our Civic Engagement programme is to create opportunities for people to enjoy using our libraries – to encourage them to feel comfortable and confident when using our services and spaces. It’s also key that our staff get a chance to try something new, beyond the ‘business as usual’ of working with students and researchers.

The Escape Room was developed to encourage young people to take up space in our libraries, to enjoy exploring them and to build their confidence in using our services.

Cardiff University First Campus joined us to trial the activity – solving a series of locked puzzles to get their hands on a prize. First Campus holds summer schools for your people with Autism Spectrum conditions, and young people with experiences of the Care Sector, and the Escape Room activity was designed to be adapted according to the needs of each group.

Rhedeg! Yn y llyfrgell! Meddiannu’r llyfrgell wyddoniaeth gyda Campws Cyntaf / Running! In the library! Taking over the science library with First Campus

It was a fun and successful trial – we will be adapting and refining the working model, with the aim of offering the Escape Room to secondary schools on a regular basis in the future.

Fake News with JOMEC and Media Wales

One of our biggest strengths as libraries and archives is our ability to match people with resources. We developed our Fake News project to enhance our Libraries’ role as a space for connection – by answering a genuine demand from our community by enabling access to expertise, equipment and new experiences.

We worked with English and Media Studies students from Fitzalan High School to create a project to take us out of the classroom and into newsrooms, broadcast studios, and to Cardiff University’s brand new journalism campus. Staff at JOMEC – Cardiff University’s School of Journalism, Media and Culture – and Media Wales were very generous with us, as we landed in their workspaces full of energy and questions!

Holi’r newyddiadurwyr yn dwll yn Media Wales / Asking *all* the questions to journalists at Media Wales

In preparation for their own field interviews, the class worked with Media Wales on their interview techniques, and learned how journalists collect and verify information before it is printed. At JOMEC, we looked at research skills – how to find good quality information, and how to come up with canny questions that get to the heart of a topic.

Profi bywyd o flaen y camera yn stiwdios dysgu JOMEC / Trying out on-camera life at JOMEC’s student studios

On our last day together, we ventured out into the ‘real world’, using our new skills to create videos interviews with the general public – asking them about their attitudes towards fake news and the media in general. Due to a slight minibus crisis, we also got a last-minute trip to Glamorgan Archives in the bargain – thank you to the staff, who welcomed us all at very short notice!

Holi’r cyhoedd am eu barn ar Newyddion Ffug / Interviewing the public about Fake News

Next term, we’ll be meeting again to co-create a digital resource, using the interviews we collected and what we learned from the experts at Media Wales and JOMEC. Our hope is that every school in Wales will be able to learn from our experiences, as we share our resource through the Welsh Government’s HWB platform.

Plans for the Future

It’s been a very busy summer, and this is only part of the picture – schools are only one of many audiences we work with, so we’ll continue to develop our programmes over the years to come, finding new ways to open up our collections to people across Wales and beyond.

We’ll be publishing our Civic Engagement strategy for Cardiff University Libraries and Archives in the new year – in the meantime, if you’d like to find out more about our programmes, and how we work, get in touch: mailto:specialcollections@cardiff.ac.uk

ARA Scotland Announce Explore Your Archive Ambassador 2019

ARAScotland are delighted to announce that Jamie Crawford, who you may know from BBC1’s ‘Scotland from the Sky’, will be the ARA Scotland Explore Your Archive Ambassador for 2019-2020! 

James Crawford is an award-winning writer, publisher and broadcaster. His first major work of non-fiction, Fallen Glory: The Lives and Deaths of the World’s Greatest Lost Buildings was published to critical acclaim in November 2015. Selected as a ‘Book of the Year’ by the New Statesman, the Independent and the Scotsman, it also led to appearances on the Today Programme, Start the Week and Newsnight, among others. In 2016 Fallen Glory was shortlisted for the Saltire Non-Fiction Book of the Year Award. In March 2017 it was published by Picador in the US, going on to feature in the New York Times, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe and the National Post. The Wall Street Journal described it as ‘a book of and for the world’. 

In 2018 James scripted and presented the three-part, landmark documentary series Scotland from the Sky on BBC One Scotland (shortlisted for the 2019 Royal Television Society Awards for Best Specialist Factual Documentary). A second three-part series followed in Spring 2019. For over a decade he has worked with and researched Scotland’s national collection of architecture, archaeology and aerial photography, and has written a number of photographic books on its history and application, including Above Scotland, Scotland’s Landscapes, Aerofilms: A History of Britain from Above and Scotland from the Sky, the book of the BBC series. He is also the co-author of Who Built Scotland: 25 Journeys in Search of A Nation, with Kathleen Jamie, Alexander McCall Smith, James Robertson and Alistair Moffat.

He was born in the Shetlands in 1978 and studied History and Philosophy of Law at the University of Edinburgh, winning the Lord President Cooper Memorial Prize. He went on to complete a Masters in Journalism and was a radio broadcast journalist before he moved to London to work as a literary agent. For the past eleven years he has been the Publisher at Historic Environment Scotland – the lead body for the historic and built environment in Scotland – winning the runner-up award for Publisher of the Year at the 2018 Saltire Awards and making the shortlist for Best Academic Publisher at the 2019 British Book Awards. In June 2019 he became Publisher at Birlinn Books.

In 2016 he was elected as Chair of the Board of Publishing Scotland, the network body for the publishing industry in Scotland. He lives in Edinburgh.

The Scottish Explore Your Archive Event will take place this November at the National Records of Scotland, and will feature a talk from Jamie, as well as a presentation from Dawn Sinclair, Harper Collins archivist. More information is available here,

Powys Archives

Powys Archives is located in Llandrindod Wells, and serves as the official repository for the records of the county of Powys. Our collections date from the fourteenth century and include public records from bodies such as courts and hospitals; official records such as county council and school records; ecclesiastical and non-conformist records, which can provide information on births, deaths and marriages; as well as deposited records from solicitors and local groups.

Many people make use of our resources for family history but the archive is also a rich source for social history and learning about the local area. Original documents can be viewed in our searchroom in our newly developed facility.

Powys Archive, Llandrindod Wells

Along with preserving original records, we also hold a comprehensive local history collection of books and other publications. We have plenty of table space along with computers with Find My Past and Ancestry subscriptions, wi-fi for use of laptops and other devices, and microfilm/fiche readers.

The best way to reach us is through our website, where you can also view our catalogues and search for items in our database: https://en.powys.gov.uk/archives

You can also use our website to apply to our research and copying services if you are unable to visit us in person.

Powys Archives is open Thursdays and Fridays between 9.30am and 5pm but please get in touch with us before travelling so that we can reserve you a space.

Lleolir Archifau Powys yn Llandrindod a hon yw ystorfa swyddogol ar gyfer cofnodion Sir Powys. Mae ein casgliadau’n dyddio o’r bedwaredd ganrif ar ddeg ac yn cynnwys cofnodion cyhoeddus o sefydliadau megis llysoedd ac ysbytai; cofnodion swyddogol megis cofnodion y cyngor sir ac ysgolion; cofnodion yr anghydffurfwyr ac eglwysig, a all rhoi gwybodaeth ar enedigaethau, marwolaethau a phriodasau; yn ogystal â chofnodion a ddyddodwyd gan gyfreithwyr a grwpiau lleol. Mae llawer o bobl yn defnyddio ein hadnoddau ar gyfer hanes y teulu. Ond mae’r archif hefyd yn ffynhonnell gyfoethog ar gyfer hanes cymdeithasol ac i ddysgu am yr ardal leol. Gallwch weld dogfennau gwreiddiol yn yr ystafell chwilio yn ein hadeilad newydd.

Powys Archive, Llandrindod Wells

Yn ogystal â chadw cofnodion gwreiddiol, rydym hefyd yn cadw casgliad o lyfrau hanes lleol cynhwysfawr a chyhoeddiadau eraill. Mae gennym ddigonedd o le ar y byrddau a chyfrifiaduron gyda rhaglenni Find My Past a thanysgrifiadau i Ancestry. Mae gennym wasanaeth DiWifr ar gyfer gliniaduron a theclynnau eraill, a pheiriannau darllen microffilm a microfiche.

Y ffordd orau o’n cyrraedd yw trwy ein gwefan lle gallwch weld ein catalogau a chwilio am eitemau yn ein cronfa ddata: https://cy.powys.gov.uk/archifau

Ar ben hyn gallwch ddefnyddio ein gwefan i wneud cais i’n gwasanaethau copïo ac ymchwil os nad oes modd i chi ymweld â ni wyneb yn wyneb.

Mae Archifau Powys ar agor bob dydd Iau a dydd Gwener rhwng 9.30am a 5.00pm ond cysylltwch â ni cyn ichi deithio fel y gallwn gadw lle ar eich cyfer.

#Archive30

The first of April was no April Fool for the archive and record keeping sector as ARA Scotlands’ #Archive30 campaign commenced across twitter and other social media platforms.

ARA Scotland is one of the national and regional groups of the Archive and Records Association. They hold a range of training events across the year and are also responsible for the Scotland based Explore Your Archive launch event held in November each year. They also run a series of social media campaigns each year for Scottish archives to contribute to and #Archive30 is one campaign that anyone from anywhere in the world can join in.

Featured Archive – The Public Record Office of Ireland

The Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI) is the official archive for Northern Ireland and holds over 3 million historical records, including church registers, emigrant letters, workhouse records, and files created by government departments and courts of law. Most relate to the North of Ireland and dated from the 17th century onwards, offering a wealth of information on society, economy and governance. PRONI’s oldest document is a bull of Pope Honorius III, dated 1219.

PRONI is based at purpose built premises in the Titanic Quarter of Belfast and is a division within the NI Department for Communities (DfC).  A number of archives have been digitised and are available online athttps://www.nidirect.gov.uk/proni including wills, maps, street directories, valuation records and the Ulster Covenant. The electronic catalogue can be accessed at https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/services/search-ecatalogue 

 PRONI delivers a programme of events, talks, conferences, exhibitions and book launches over the course of the year. Many of the events relate to the marking of significant centenaries and other notable anniversaries. Details can be found on the PRONI website.  These cover a wide range of subjects including amongst other: family and local history, marking centenaries, culture, wars and conflicts, migration and the Ulster Plantation. 

External view of PRONI