Thinking Outside the Box - Educational Outreach and the HIV/AIDS Project

In this week's blog, Project Cataloguing Archivist Karyn talks about dipping her toes into the world of archive education:

When I started working as the Project Cataloguing Archivist on the HIV/AIDS project in May, I had very little knowledge of HIV/AIDS as a disease and the effect it has on people’s lives. Working through the records to prepare them to be catalogued really opened my eyes to the impact that the HIV/AIDS epidemic had on Edinburgh as a city. The collections' inscription to the UNESCO UK Memory of the World Register highlights the ways in which the epidemic impacted upon world history and the role that Edinburgh has played in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

Official recognition of LHSA's HIV/AIDS collections by UNESCO, awarded in 2011.
As the project progressed, it became apparent that the records contained huge educational potential and that the subject of HIV/AIDS is not discussed in schools as much as it should be. Although the content of the material is in many ways sensitive, the importance of educating the public about the dangers of the disease and the importance of safe sex is no less important.
It is for this reason that the project has expanded over the last few months to include a targeted educational outreach aspect. Project staff have been working hard to use the records to produce a series of educational resources for use in classrooms across Scotland. These resources have been produced in line with the Curriculum for Excellence, and it is hoped that we can win further funding to build a dedicated website and to run a series of workshops to show teachers how to use the resources and where to find more information on HIV/AIDS.
The resources are based around the more visual aspects of the collection, including posters, postcards and other promotional material. We hope that this will provide an avenue for class discussion, debate and creative output.  External input from education profession is important to the success of the resources: advice and feedback from Education Scotland, education professionals and teachers themselves will help the material to be put to good use.

World AIDS Day resource pack (GD21/4/3), an example of some of the amazing graphic design in our HIV/AIDS collections.

Teachers and pupils will be able to access the website long after the project has ended and it is hoped that future LHSA projects will add to the resources already produced. The HIV/AIDS project has shown that there are many different ways for archivists to provide access to their collections - and sometimes thinking outside the box provides the best results.