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A rich seam of history.

The North East's museums, libraries and archives get more visitors each year than go to all our football matches, music concerts and the Great North Run put together. These 20 million visitors can dig in to a rich seam of resources both real and virtual.

Today's visitors can discover their community's own story, trace their family tree, access the Internet - free - learn a new skill, join a local history trail or help their children at school. And with over 450 venues you can do all this and more right on your doorstep.

The North East story is unique. Over many centuries we have developed industry and mining, shipbuilding and railways - while our rivers have been links to the outside world and global trade.

Our culture and sense of identity is very strong ( our lives have often been hard, our memories go way back, we never forget ( but we are known worldwide for our humour and sunny outlook.

The region's story is cared for and recorded in its museums, libraries and archives and the North East has more than 2,000 staff dedicated to making facilities accessible, friendly and useful.

What is NEMLAC?

The North East Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (NEMLAC) is the regional development agency for this sector. It is funded by the Museums Libraries & Archives Council (MLA) and helps the region's museums, libraries and archives make the best use of resources, get more funding, support staff development and represent their interest to regional and national decision makers.

A key NEMLAC objective is to place these facilities at the heart of communities, supporting lifelong learning to all, providing a source of inspiration and creativity and helping develop the knowledge economy and cultural tourism.

NEMLAC is working for the future of the region's museums, libraries and archives ( to make the North East :

- the best place to live ( with first class facilities and well-trained staff working with local communities exploiting our rich resources

- the best place to work ( with support for work-related learning and personal development, and access to information technologies

- the best place to learn ( in school, college or university for formal qualifications, and in later, more mature years to discover more about individual interests, particularly following the highly popular local and family and local history trails.

NEMLAC is also committed to reflecting the needs of different ethnic communities. Coun Alex Cunningham (Stockton), chair of NEMLAC said: "Everyone must feel our museums, libraries and archives and their collections are part of their own personal knowledge bank - or even a favourite place for recreation."

NEMLAC keeps other agencies up-to-date in how its sector can contribute very effectively to their regional development plans.

Get to Know Your Museums, Libraries and Archives

More and more people click onto the Internet as the first step to finding what's available in their local area.

NEMLAC has just launched a new website - www.nemlac.co.uk/ - to make finding out about facilities even easier. The site is simple to use, fast to download and has an interactive map to quickly locate the 10 nearest museums, libraries or archives.

From the map a user can click straight through their websites for information about opening times, access, collections, learning and education support, computer facilities ( and even if they have a nice cafA attached.

The map also connects to the region's electronic collections including Well I Never! www.wellinever.info and Tomorrow's History www.tomorrows-history.com.

New Energy, New Resources

The past three years have been a time of dynamic and exciting change for museums, libraries and archives in the North East. We are transforming the region.

We have seen huge investment in the sector. Through the Heritage Lottery Fund - the new Woodhorn Colliery Museum and County Record Office in Ashington, and Locomotion, the National Railway Museum in the North East. From Private Finance Initiative ( Newcastle upon Tyne's new Central Library. And from other sources ( the prize-winning Durham City Clayport Library, the revitalised Dorman Museum in the Tees Valley, the prize-winning combined Community College and Public Library at Blyth. Funders also include the Northern Rock Foundation, Clore Duffield and the European Regional Development Fund. NEMLAC is also able to grant-fund the sector.

New partnerships have been forged with Learning & Skills Councils, One NorthEast and other heritage organisations in the region. This has led to joint projects, skills development and a confidence to go for new funding opportunities. We continue to win national awards and prizes Killhope North of England Lead Mining Museum, Beamish, Segedunum ( the list is very long.

NEMLAC knows its sector makes a difference to life, learning and leisure. NEMLAC knows it makes a difference to museums, libraries and archives in the region ( working with them, working for them - making the North East simply the best!
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Jan 25, 2005
Words:789
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