Engagement and learning policy
London Metropolitan Archives (LMA) is fully committed to providing as wide an access to its holdings as possible in an environment of transparency, learning and fun in which a rich variety of opportunities exist to inspire and enable people of all backgrounds to access and exploit archive and library resources effectively and creatively, on and off site.
- To promote the impact of the City’s cultural and heritage offer on the life of London and the nation
- To adhere to the highest standards of access, interpretative and educational practice
- To provide equal opportunities for all users of the collections through cultural, physical, sensory, financial and intellectual access
- Actively to encourage and develop a sense of stewardship on the part of users
- To consult with and be responsive to the needs of its users, staff and stakeholders
- To work in partnership to achieve our aims
- To offer unique learning opportunities available through archive collections
- To facilitate formal and informal learning through participation, a wide range of activities, accurate and accessible information and appropriate guidance
- To provide opportunities which are highly responsive to all London’s diverse communities
- To work across LMA to develop a constantly improving enquiry service which strives to meet user needs
- To contribute actively to and implement City of London, regional and national Access and Interpretation policies and practices
- To employ effectively new technologies as learning tools
- To raise awareness of the relevance and significance of the collections both now and in the future
- To support colleagues in implementation of interpretation practice
This policy provides the framework through which all users can have an enriching learning experience.
Management of engagement and learning
We have and will continue to support clear lines of responsibility for engagement and learning matters to a senior management level.
Communication between the Engagement and Learning staff and the rest of the archive is seen as essential in achieving learning objectives. Ideas that contribute to the user learning experience are actively sought and welcomed. Staff are encouraged to participate in different learning activities, either to assist or as experts. Learning is a central element of the archive’s function.
Networking with potential partners and establishing key contacts is an essential and powerful element of engagement and learning. As an archive with distinct local collections we actively pursue working with London’s diverse communities in stimulating, active and inspiring learning activities. We collaborate with and seek advice from a wide range of regional and national organisations.
Engagement and Learning will work across LMA and make appropriate applications for external funding to support current and future work of the service. Engagement and Learning will also liaise with external groups to support viable and appropriate funded projects.
We actively support the training of all staff in Engagement and Learning and across LMA and value the wide range of expertise existing amongst our employees. Staff are supported in attending conferences, professional training courses and to access information which keeps them abreast of new developments in formal and informal learning provision. Staff also exchange expertise through in-house training and secondments to different sections of the department.
We recognise the vital role of suitable learning environments and aim to provide access, stimulating displays, well-planned room arrangements, modern equipment and comfort for users and participants in activities on or off the premises.
We are committed to developing new ways of communicating the collections to current and potential users. Engagement and Learning staff are active in creating a wide range of materials including study packs, exhibitions and website content which support formal and informal learning and access. These resources are developed in consultation with users.
We identify our users, seeking out and acting upon their opinions and ideas, and responding to their diverse learning needs. Users are central to the shaping of learning experiences. Engagement and Learning staff are committed to involving all users in the shaping of policy and evaluation of activity. Current user groups include family historians, primary and secondary schools, further education colleges, higher education institutions, professional historians, architects, lawyers and social workers. Users are currently invited to contribute through questionnaires, visitor surveys, comment sheets and talking to staff. We will use evaluation processes to maintain and improve all aspects of engagement and learning.
LMA respects the privacy of individuals. All personal information held in connection with providing access to learning opportunities to all is managed and used in accordance with the Data Protection Act 2018. None of this information will be disclosed to third parties.
Access to documents and conservation
Engagement and Learning staff will facilitate and support access to original material through a range of activities working across LMA teams.
Providing research tools
We are committed to providing all users with the means of researching and analysing documents. High quality research standards are central to the full and proper historical analysis of documents. Working with LMA teams Engagement and Learning will provide users with an online catalogue and access to digitised collections through a range of platforms. Users will be provided with accurate information and guidance in rigorous research methods to enhance their learning experience and enjoyment. We also aim to provide leaflets and guides to make the records more accessible and comprehensible.
Training in handling and conservation skills
We support training of all staff and users in the correct handling of documents as a central part of conserving the collections for use by others now and in the future. Engagement and Learning staff will work closely with Conservation, Digital Services and external support in using alternative media, enabling greater access to documents for all users.
Partnership and projects
We build partnerships with external organisations as they make a significant contribution to Engagement and Learning (Access and Interpretation) provision. There is a history of developing and maintaining successful partnerships with London, United Kingdom and internationally based organisations. Engagement and Learning staff will continue to form partnerships with schools, colleges and universities, educational organisations, funding bodies, government departments, advisory groups, users, professional associations, museums, libraries, galleries and archives, providing activities such as tours and work experience opportunities.
We value the importance of different types of user activity. All those who use our resources are valued as participants in historical exploration, regardless of the nature of their research. Engagement and Learning will endeavour to meet the diverse requirements of all learners.
Constraints on using collections
Engagement and Learning will protect collections for which there are access constraints. In a small number of cases, access restrictions are applied in conformity with such legislation as Data Protection. Where material is too fragile to be handled, we will strive to provide an alternative medium by which it can be viewed within the existing Conservation and Digital Services timetables.
Documents as objects
The importance of art, craft, conservation science and the diverse materials used in the creation of documents can be as significant as content. Our documents are objects, which tell the physical history of record keeping. They reflect upon the material cultures of the past. The process of making documents is as revealing as the information they contain in words or image and learning opportunities will support this important area of our work.
Using collections as inspiration for diverse activity
We want our collections to inspire other areas of activity. The documents held by us can and do provide rich resources for artists, writers, designers, historians, reminiscence projects, community activities, drama activities, literacy, numeracy, family historians and scientists, science historians and communicators. Diversity and imagination fuelled by lateral thinking will broaden the ways in which documents are used, open up unexpected and surprising opportunities and encourage new users to make the most of the archives.
Supporting document study
We aim to provide accurate information and friendly and helpful advice to members of the public in response to personal, written and telephone enquiries. We aim to provide additional assistance to enrich the experience of using documents by the provision of leaflets, formal talks, exhibitions and access to knowledgeable staff to ensure that users are given a breadth of learning experience, which adds to their enjoyment and enthusiasm.
The work of the archive
We regard the management of document collections as a central part of the users learning experience. An understanding of the storage and conservation of documents is vital in raising awareness of the significance of our work. Exhibitions and tours behind the scenes add an extra dimension to the learning experience.
Digital resources and facsimiles
Access to the collections is of paramount importance. We recognise that not all current and potential users can come to the archive. In order to increase access to documents, off-site exhibitions, web-site developments, and learning resource packs are constantly being developed. A quarterly electronic newsletter is also published which aims to make the work of the archive and its holdings more widely known. Film and sound collections are made available through the Mediatheque. Engagement and Learning is committed to providing opportunities made available through innovation and change.
Please complete a comment form or contact the LMA Enquiry team if you wish to give feedback on this policy.
This policy will be reviewed at least every two years to make sure it remains timely and relevant.
The policy was last updated in April 2020.