Case Study: Research, Evaluation & Design

QueenSpark Books – ‘Archives Alive’ evaluation



QueenSpark Books is the UK’s longest-running community publisher. They publish oral histories and creative responses to local history, via books, e-books, exhibitions, events, websites and other projects.

In 2018, they launched  Archives Alive. This was a two-year project that developed innovative online and offline initiatives in order to increase public accessibility to, engagement with, and enhancement of, QueenSpark’s archive and related material about the city of Brighton & Hove.




always possible was appointed as evaluator for the length of the two-year project, working closely with the QueenSpark Books management, and the Archives Alive project team, to ensure that the project achieved the relevant evaluation outcomes, as stipulated by the funders – the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Our role was to:

  • Establish a framework for reflection and change for the project, as well as measuring it against the planned HLF outcomes
  • Conduct three interventions – at the start- (to establish base-point information), mid- and end-point of the project – each consisting of interviewing the project team, volunteers, participants and end users
  • Produce a short report at the end of the first two stages, assessing how the project is achieving its aims (these reports will feed into the ongoing development of the project)
  • Lead on the development of an end-project survey, in order to gauge who has newly-engaged in our archive and related material, how they are using it, and how it has changed their attitude towards their city’s heritage


  • Developing a framework
  • Mentoring and guidance
  • Data collection
  • Consultation
  • Analysis and reporting
  • Stakeholder engagement


  • Fresh thinking for whole organisation ✓
  • Pragmatic recommendations ✓
  • Improved stakeholder relationships ✓
  • Well-designed and clear reports for investors ✓
  • Extended data capture ✓

We like how the always possible team always place such importance on evaluation. They have provided a wider contextual overview of why it is beneficial to evaluate (over and above box ticking and meeting targets). The final report is useful to us for interrogating our own wider practice.

John Riches, QueenSpark Books