Monday, 23 May 2011

Preservation and Disaster Management for Information Professionals

On 6th May, Jennifer submitted two assignments to the Centre for Archive and Information Studies at the University of Dundee as part of the module ‘Preservation and Disaster Management for Information Professionals’. Jennifer studied the module as continuing professional development (CPD) having completed the Centre's MLitt in Archives and Records Management last year. The module, as with all CAIS modules, is delivered online by distance learning and can be taken by archivists, records managers and other information professionals.

The Preservation module helps with identifying and dealing with nasty pests like this

The module was split into two sections. The first looked at preservation and at different types of archival material and how these should be stored. It covered threats from the environment, from pests and mould, and how to undertake a preservation survey and implement a preservation policy. The second part dealt with disaster management, identifying risks, preparing for an emergency and creating and implementing a disaster plan.

How to deal with threats to archives: first catch your bug!
Jennifer wanted to do this module in order to have a greater awareness of the issues facing the collections at ARMMS as well as the best ways to protect these and says ‘There was a lot on information in this module and it made me realise how many potential threats there are to be on the look out for! Having done the module I am a lot more aware of how to identify and reduce the risk from these threats.’
For more information on this module and others offered by CAIS see our website or contact

The Call of the Sea - An Exhibition by Museum Services for Dundee's WestFest

Atlantic Surf by William McTaggart, 1899 (courtesy of the Royal Bank of Scotland Group)
Scottish artists have long been fascinated by the sea and by our relationship with it. This exhibition showcases items as diverse as early 19th century landscape painting and contemporary mixed-media works and includes items by famous names such as William McTaggart and Ian Hamilton Finlay alongside the work of students from the University's Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design.

The exhibition includes a special focus on the work of Will Maclean (Emeritus Professor of Fine Art), in celebration of his 70th birthday this year. As well as rarely seen works from the University's own collections, the exhibition includes loans from both public and private collections. It has been specially curated as part of the WestFest festival in Dundee which runs 13th-19th June.

The exhibition is in the Lamb Gallery of the University's Tower Building and can be viewed Monday-Friday 09:30-20:30 and 9:30-16:30 on Saturdays, 14th May-25th June.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

The Fourth Conference on Archival Information Databases

Michael Bolik, the Senior Assistant Archivist, presented a paper in May at the Fourth Conference on Archival Information Databases organized by the Brazilian Archivists Association and held in Rio de Janeiro. The paper was a reflection on the University of Dundee Archives’ quarter century of experience with varying types of archival databases and the issues associated with the use of databases.

Encountering pipes and drums marching beside the beach in Ipanema shortly after stepping off the plane was a surreal experience but one that augured well for the conference. The programme was intense and varied and related to the effect of information technology on archival theory and practice.

The eight keynote addresses were delivered by speakers from Brazil, the United States and Portugal and reflected on several interesting and challenging themes. Overall the conference examined such issues as the changing nature of archival language necessitated by the growth of IT in archives, the application of archival management systems, the increasing requirement to address the needs of users, and the growing tension between traditional archival practices and the expectations of a generation accustomed to the internet and to instant information retrieval.

Judging from the papers at the conference there seems to be a general trend towards cooperation between archivists and IT professionals to develop solutions applicable to the archival world. Archivists agree that information technology can and should be used to open up collections but issues relating to standards, controlled vocabularies, and preferred types of archival software remain. The conclusion of the conference was, however, optimistic. Current developments will draw the archival world closer together as it adapts to a future in which information technology will play an increasingly dominant role.

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

New edition of the ICA/SUV Newsletter

The latest edition of the ICA/SUV Newsletter was published recently and is available online here. The newsletter includes articles on the Manumed Project (Maghreb and the Mashreq), the preservation needs of archival institutions in Africa and this issue introduces a new column about digital matters; ‘Digital Galore'.

ICA/SUV is the Section of the International Council on University and Research Institution Archives (SUV). It provides a forum for record keeping professionals from universities and scientific institutions to discuss issues of common interest, to promote their collections and to create resources that can be used by colleagues throughout the world. The Section currently has around one hundred members including ARMMS and Pat, our Head of Department and the Director of CAIS, is currently the Secretary of ICA/SUV. ARMMS/CAIS' support for ICA/SUV is long-standing and in 2007 included hosting the Section's annual conference in Dundee. The conference later this year will be hosted by the University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada in July.

Attendees at the ICA/SUV conference dinner at Fingask Castle, near Dundee, August 2007