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.

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