Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Learning to Build Archives of the Future

Over the last couple of weeks Archive Services feels like it has become a second home to students from the School of Architecture. The students have been asked to look at the issues involved in designing and running an archive building. Over 40 students, with no previous experience of archives and little knowledge of what an archive is for and how it functions, have been looking through our strong rooms, asking about temperature control and experiencing at first hand a search room overflowing with people. Interestingly it's not only the design of the building that concerns them, they've also been asked to look at ways in which the archive can be made more accessible to the public, such as through the addition of on site exhibition spaces.

The University Tower Building where the
Archives is located in the basement. This
shows the Tower being constructed in
the late 1950s.
As well as pointing them to BS 5454: 2000 (Recommendations for the storage and exhibition of archival documents) and its companion PD 0024:2001 we've recommended Kitching's Archival Buildings, Wilsted's Planning New and Remodelled Archival Facilities or his later Archival Special Collection Facilities. For those who are interested in new or remodelled buildings, there have been related articles in the Journal of the Society of Archivists, parts of the National Archives Frameworks of Standards are relevant, as are the MLA's Benchmarks in Collections Care available at the Collections Link website. The National Archives has guidance on planning a new repository and there is a group, MAPLE, which has been set up 'to help support organisations currently planning or managing large archive projects, primarily capital developments'.

Those of you who have visited the archives here at Dundee will know that we are faced with typical challenges in terms of the size and location of the archive which should give the students plenty to think about and we'll be interested to see the results of their project.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Memory and Identity

This is a week of anniversaries - as well as celebrating the 4,000th unique visit to the blog earlier in the week, this is our 100th post. I wonder how many of them you remember (as you'll see from the screen shot below the blog used to look quite different)? Those of you who aren't familiar with ARMMS or CAIS will have created and recreated your own view of our department while reading through our posts. Even those of you who know us well will have had your perceptions of 'us' altered by the blogs, and these will continue to change each time you remember what you have read.

This interplay between memory and identity, and the impact on these of archives and records, is the theme of our Royal Society of Edinburgh Arts and Humanities Network Project. This is the second RSE award that we have received and we were delighted that the current funding enabled us to extend the research generated by the Investigating the Archive Project. Caroline Brown attended a Research Awards Reception at the RSE last week where she gave a poster presentation about the Memory and Identity project. In addition Pat Whatley has been asked to speak about the Network Award at an RSE Research Awards in Arts & Humanities Information Evening in October.

Over the next few months we'll be returning to this theme regularly and we'd welcome any comments that you have. Our conference in December is a culmination of a series of workshops and lectures relating to Memory and Identity and will look particularly at the following areas:
- Value, Appraisal and Theories of Identity and Memory
- The Impact of Description on the Archival Record
- The Act of Display and Interpretation in the Creation of Memory
- Records and Truth: the Creation of Community and National Identities
- Everyone their Own Archivist – an Eternal Verity or a Digital Virtue?
- Activating the Archive: A Site for Creative Exploration
- Beyond the Written Word: Recording Memory and Identity
- The Making of History: Archives and the Historian

Watch out for more blog posts on these and other issues soon.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Congratulations Terry Cook

Terry Cook (third from left) with (left to right)
David Duncan (former Secretary of the University of
Dundee) and fellow keynote speakers Elizabeth
Shepherd (UCL) and Verne Harris (Nelson Mandela
Foundation) at the Philosophy of the Archive
conference, April 2008
Many of you will have seen the email Tom Nesmith of the University of Manitoba sent to the archives and records email listservs this week congratulating his colleague Terry Cook on his election as a member of the Royal Society of Canada (RSC). Tom explains in his email that this is the highest distinction that can be awarded to a scholar in Canada and that
only a handful of archivists have been members of the...Royal
Society of Canada, and they were elected for their outstanding scholarship as historians. Terry is the first to be recognized for scholarship about archives, and for his prominent role in defining and shaping the contours of the very field of Archival Studies as a distinct intellectual and academic pursuit.
Tom also provided the formal RSC citation:
COOK, Terry, History of archives and of recorded information, University of Manitoba

Terry Cook has transformed archives from being perceived as storehouses of old records to sites of power worthy of scholarly attention. In rethinking appraisal to decide what records become archives, responding to the challenges of digital records and critical theory and exploring archival history, Cook has developed, nationally and internationally, a distinctive voice for Canadian archival scholarship.
Terry gave a keynote presentation at the 'Philosophy of the Archive' conference held by CAIS in Edinburgh in 2008 and part of the Royal Society of Edinburgh supported 'Investigating the Archive Project'. He returns to Scotland later this year to provide another keynote lecture at the conference 'Memory, Identity and the Archival Paradigm: an interdisciplinary approach' to be held in Dundee 8-10 December. This conference is part of the successor project to 'Investigating the Archive', the Royal Society of Edinburgh funded research network 'Memory and Identity: an Interdisciplinary Research Network in Scotland'.

We would like to add our congratulations to those already offered by Terry's friends and colleagues. This is a tremendous achievement and one thoroughly justified by the quality and depth of his scholarship and his outstanding contribution to the theoretical basis of the recordkeeping profession.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

4,000 visitors!

By complete chance we were looking at our website statistics this morning just at the point where the number of unique visitors to this blog reached 4,000. In total 6,624 visitors (including returning visitors) have looked at the blog since it began in August 2009 with 11,808 page views.

As you can see from the map, people viewing the blog come from all over the world.

As well as this blog you can also find us online in the following places:

We're really pleased that so many people find the blog interesting and useful. Please let us know if you have any comments or suggestions on how we could change or improve things.

NOTE: we use Google's Analytics service to track our web statistics and the screenshots are taken from there.

Friday, 10 September 2010

CAIS Study School, Sept 10 - Days 3, 4 & 5

We're heading towards the end of the Study School now after four days of fascinating sessions. Yesterday Jan Merchant of Perth and Kinross Council Archive spoke to the students about access to archival collections, Susan Mansfield of the Scottish Parliamentary Information Centre examined strategic management issues and Philippa Sterlini and Vanessa Charles of the University of Dundee introduced the students to the preservation and conservation of records and techniques for disaster preparedness and management. The day concluded with a session from Craig Fees on audiovisual records and one from Philip Lord on digital preservation.

Today's sessions have included a debate on whether the recordkeeping professions are being marginalised by developments in technology and a session on the impact of information legislation on recordkeepers. Linda Bankier and Sue Wood from Northumberland Archives and Rachel Hart of the University of St Andrews are leading a workshop this afternoon on palaeography, diplomatic and different types of archive sources and records. The day finishes with the annual CAIS Study School Seminar. This year the distinguished guest is George MacKenzie, the Keeper of the Records of Scotland.

Tomorrow the students have sessions on professional ethics and final preparation for their courses starting on Monday 20 September. It has been a very full week, but a very enjoyable one with valuable and thought provoking contributions from all the students, visiting tutors and speakers and the CAIS staff.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

CAIS Study School, Sept 10 - Days 1 & 2

The first afternoon of the Study School rushed by yesterday as the students met the CAIS staff and each other for the first time. After the introductory session the bulk of the afternoon was taken up by a workshop led by Sarah Wickham, University Records Manager, University of Huddersfield, and Rachel Hosker, the Archive Manager at Scottish Boarders Archive and Local History Centre. Their session introduced everyone to the idea of recordkeeping, and the perspectives of, and relationships between, records creators, users and records professionals.

Today there are sessions on how to use the University's online learning systems and workshops on metadata and archival theory (with David Haynes and Caroline Brown respectively), before Sarah returns with Alan Bell this afternoon as they lead a session examining issues and concepts in records management. The day also includes a visit for the records management students to an off-site storage facility and concludes with a visit for everyone to the University Library and Conservation Studio.

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Brittle Bone Society Archive comes to the University of Dundee

Archive Services are very pleased to announce that the archive of the Brittle Bone Society (UK) has been given to the University of Dundee.

Founded in Dundee in 1968 the Brittle Bone Society is the only UK wide organisation providing support to people affected by the bone condition Osteogenesis Imperfecta (OI). The archive is significant in tracing the history of this important charity and developments in treatment of the condition. Changes in fundraising approaches, marketing, membership and administration can all be exploredthrough the records. As a UK charity based in Dundee the collection has strong local significance, but also reflects the impact of the charity on the development of similar organisations overseas. This photograph shows Caroline Brown with Margaret Grant, who established the Society, and Sheena Moreland who has worked for the Society for several years.

Archive Services hopes to shortly undertake an oral history project with members of the Society.

Monday, 6 September 2010

CAIS Study School, September 2010

CAIS welcomes a new intake of students to Dundee tomorrow as they attend a Study School prior to beginning their Masters degrees in Archives and Records Management by online distance learning on Monday 20 September.

The Study School is a chance for each new intake of students to meet each other and the CAIS staff and tutors, find out how to use the University's online learning systems and to begin to think about many of the professional theories and issues that they will encounter during their courses. It's always a really interesting and enjoyable few days and we're really looking forward to the rest of the week. We'll be posting updates on the Study School here throughout the week so remember to check back from time to time.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Abstracts available: Memory, Identity and the Archival Paradigm

Abstracts are now available for the papers to be given at the conference Memory, Identity and the Archival Paradigm: an interdisciplinary approach in Dundee 8-10 December via the links in the conference programme. Keynote papers at the conference will be given by Terry Cook, University of Manitoba, Graham Dominy, Chief Director, National Archives of South Africa and David Lowenthal, Emeritus Professor of Geography and Honorary Research Fellow, University College London.

The conference is being held by the Centre for Archive and Information Studies supported by a Royal Society of Edinburgh Arts and Humanities research award. It is the second major conference within the Investigating the Archive project.

Details on how to register can be found on this page and the conference website also includes information on travelling to Dundee and accommodation options.