Background information
Out in the community


The 'Roadshows'
Working with local communities was central to what the project was all about. In particular we wanted to give local people the opportunity to contribute without having to travel all the way to the record office in Llandrindod Wells. With this in mind we organised a series of "roadshows" around the county. We arranged around a dozen sessions, although they were all very different.

Sometimes we were at a community centre at the invitation of an organisation where we gave an illustrated talk with the "roadshow" element afterwards, at other times we held them as "drop-in" sessions in the local libraries. Attendance at the organised events ranged from 20-50 persons at a time, with most people there as mere spectators, however; in the course of an evening or afternoon at a library, we got around 6-8 people actually bringing in material for us to scan. Materials included: family photographs, postcards, newspaper cuttings, medals, ephemera, and a few archival records , e.g. from local businesses, and local history notes compiled by individuals but not previously published.
Local people would normally hand the items to us to scan on site, or in some cases to take away, scan, and return to them; however, two individuals actually "burned" cd-roms for us full of local images for us to use, and one offered to send us material by e-mail (though this was not a success for technical reasons!). Interestingly, it was some of the more senior members of the communities who embraced this new technology.

What have we learned? Using the libraries was very helpful as a familiar environment, as both we and the technology were unfamiliar to many of the local people: the local Branch Library providing a more relaxed environment than perhaps a telecentre would. We were also careful to have images of each locality loaded on a laptop, so that we could show something relevant to local experience and to encourage discussion.

Finally, the response time of local groups and individuals in rural areas is naturally slow - a year was not really long enough, as in some cases news of the project has to spread by "word of mouth" (ironically!): we have found that we have started a momentum which we could have exploited more effectively NOW - but the funding has run out! In addition we could perhaps have exploited the Millennium more, at a time when much community activity is focusing on the future.