Archives and Higher Education: beyond research resources

Image of students studying at desks in the Old Library at LSE

Students studying quietly in the Old Library at LSE: this isn’t the only way of working with Higher Education! (Via flickrcommons: LSE IMAGELIBRARY/706)

We talk a lot about partnership these days, in the archives sector. It’s more than a buzzword: partnership building is seen as absolutely critical to how archive services (which are usually quite small) are able to develop audiences, broaden funding, achieve visibility, sustainability… a lot, in fact. But it’s not always easy to find good examples of partnership, or examples that apply widely. We also know that partnership takes work and resource if it is going to be effective, be something more than a brief one-off collaboration.

So it was a huge pleasure that when we issued a call for papers on collaboration between universities and archives, we received almost 40 proposals. Evidently, there’s a lot of work going on, across a whole range of types of work. The resulting conference – ‘Enhancing Impact, Inspiring Excellence’ – is a collaboration between the University of Birmingham and The National Archives, in association with Research Libraries UK. It is now open for booking.

The programme covers a huge range of collaborative approaches, from engaging students with archives; developing research skills; inter-disciplinary projects between institutions; the richness of collections and how this adds to the research experience; working to connect schools and universities, and much more. The archives and Higher Education institutions involved represent a huge mix of geography and specialism. The conference programme demonstrates that partnership and collaboration go far beyond what you might see as the traditional relationship between archives and academics where the former provide ‘the stuff’ for research and the latter write journal articles which the archive perhaps never even sees.

We think that the conference will be inspiring for anyone considering how to build mutually-beneficial links between different constituencies. We look forward to seeing you there!

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