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.
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.