TownsWeb Archiving overhaul brings National Jazz Archive up to date

The National Jazz Archive, a resource established to preserve the legacy of one of music’s most timeless genres, had been operating with an outdated website and cataloguing systems. That was until TownsWeb Archiving stepped in

There is conflicting opinion around when exactly jazz emerged and to whom, specifically, credit should be given for the creation of this uniquely soulful art and sound. It has long influenced and been influenced by a style and culture driven by the 1920s post WW1 period. A time where fashion became more liberal, reflecting clothing that challenged the more traditional and somewhat restrictive attire, allowing for the freedom necessary for movement, music and dance.

The National Jazz Archive, founded by Digby Fairweather in 1988, sought to collect jazz related content as a tribute to the significant influence it has had on our cultural heritage, protecting it for current and future generations and enthusiasts. With books, journals, magazines, periodicals, newsletters, photos, drawings and paintings, the National Jazz Archive is testament and home to the UK’s most enviable collection.

Jazz has evolved exponentially over the years and the way people access and listen to it has changed beyond all recognition. It has never been easier to browse and explore music, and this means greater exposure to a much wider and more diverse audience. The Guardian goes as far as to say that we are heading for a UK jazz renaissance. It seems the younger generations are discovering jazz much earlier in their consumer careers…and they’re loving it.

Consequently, John Dale, Trustee at the National Jazz Archive, consulted TownsWeb Archiving on behalf of the archive because, although times had clearly changed, the website had not.

As a result, the valuable service the archive offered was not quite what they wished it to be. Current systems had become dated and complex, and were not mobile friendly at all. The earlier website had originally been created through funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund to support the ‘Story of British Jazz’ project and it had served its purpose well, but an update and a complete refresh was about due.

The overall objective was to concentrate on the three strands currently in operation (the online catalogue, digitised collections and the website) with a view to achieving the following outcomes:

  • To bring the three elements together to enable users to search multiple avenues via one single archive
  • Publish as one archive through the TWA PastView System , reducing multiple hosting running costs
  • A unique website design for a unique archive, enhancing the user experience and opening access to collections

A full case study charting the work throughout the National Jazz Archive’s journey from data import and storage to management and publication through a beautifully designed website is available here.