Libraries and archives get Designation funding boost

By Culture24 Staff | 25 August 2010
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Ladybird books, stamps, African maps and early printing equipment are among four nationally important collections to benefit from the inaugural round of awards announced by the Designation Development Fund for libraries and archives.

The libraries and archives holding these unique collections will each receive around £40,000 from the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) to improve care, access and understanding of these vital collections through innovative new projects.

The first recipients of funding are as follows:
The John Rylands University Library at The University of Manchester will draw upon the Library’s world-class collection of early-printed books and early printing equipment, including a Gutenberg Bible and the personal papers of such figures as Elizabeth Gaskell and John Wesley.

It will use a wealth of curatorial and technological expertise to conserve items, undertake research and create a series of education resources including a web based history of early printing.

A photo of an old book on parchment and black ink

The John Rylands University Library at The University of Manchester hosts a prestigious collection of ancient books

The Royal Geographical Society (with IBG), London, will develop a project entitled Rediscovering African Collections, involving co-curation in partnership with African Diaspora communities, exploring items from the Society’s collections to provide a new understanding of the collections, partnerships with African organisations, and engagement with new audiences.

The Archive of British Publishing and Printing at the University of Reading will use the Ladybird and George Bell collections – examining the phenomenon of Ladybird books and using the collection at Reading to extend education and online resources for both education and enjoyment.

The British Postal Museum & Archive (BPMA), London and Swindon, will undertake work to manage photographic collections in new and improved ways – building staff knowledge, developing research, and undertaking community outreach projects.

Launched this year, the Designation Development Fund is supported by the MLA’s Improvement Fund to offer financial support to collections which are part of the Designation Scheme.

The Scheme currently comprises 132 pre-eminent collections of national and international importance from 104 non-national museums, libraries and archives.

The Scheme identifies and supports collections of the finest quality and significance, which represent vital aspects of England’s cultural heritage.

The MLA’s Designation Manager, Paula Brikci, said: "Some of the country’s most prized collections are in Designated Collections.

“We are really pleased that for the first time we can help library and archive collection holders make these treasures more accessible to the public.”