Informal learning

Learning is about developing skills, knowledge and understanding, and it is at the heart of archives.

Over the past few years, archives have made considerable strides in helping to improve the basic skills of people from their local communities. Working with partners, archives are in a unique position to attract and support potential learners by providing an engaging learning environment.

Archives provide inspiring resources and local community space to help to increase social and local responsibility. This enables individuals and families to learn together and from each other. It supports and develops talent, innovation and enterprise to deliver social impact.

By becoming more involved with your community you can help adults, children and families unlock their potential, and ensure that your service is inclusive, accessible and sustainable for generations to come.

We provide links to useful resources below. Go to the research reports page to view more reports on learning. You can also take a look at our case studies on learning.

Adult learning

Digital inclusion

Through their extensive and rich online content, archives can spark interest and support those who may not have ventured online before, helping to bridge the digital divide.

  • Race online 2012 aims to make the UK the first nation in the world where everyone can use the web. As more services and business move online, it wants to ensure that people aren’t being left behind. This is essential for a dynamic modern economy
  • BBC Skills wise  is a campaign that aims to help adults across the UK read and write better. It also provides a guide to getting started with computers and the internet

Older learners

Learning opportunities in museums, libraries and archives contribute to the quality of life, work, and health and well being of learners aged 50 and over.

Building a society for all ages: Identifies the benefits for older people from learning in archives and potential partnerships to achieve this.

Family learning

Archives are uniquely placed to support families and early years children. They are based in the community and offer accessible learning opportunities, particularly to inter-generational groups.

Family learning and museums, libraries, archives and the cultural sector sets the context for the strategic development of these programmes.

Opening Up Spaces

Archives are opening up resources to support and encourage self-organised learning:

Other resources

Adult Learners’ Week is the UK’s largest and longest running learning campaign held every May

The Campaign for Learning is a national charity which aims to create a passion for learning that sustains people for life

NIACE promotes the study and general advancement of adult continuing education

National Literacy Trust is an independent charity dedicated to building a literate nation. The website provides a number of useful resources and a wealth of research material

National Research and Development Centre for Adult Literacy and Numeracy (NRDC) is dedicated to conducting research and development projects to improve literacy, numeracy, language and related skills and knowledge

Paul Hamlyn Foundation makes grants to organisations which aim to maximise opportunities for individuals, particularly children and young people, and others who are disadvantaged, to experience a full quality of life

The School of Everything identifies museums, libraries, archives and other spaces that are available for informal adult learning

The University of the Third Age (U3A) is for older learners