New publication “Heritage Quay: what will you discover? Transforming the archives of the University of Huddersfield, UK”

I’ve published an initial article at the half-way point of the 5 year, £2million Heritage Quay project.  Not a full evaluation, but an examination of how the Staff/Space/Collections dependency model (developed by Elizabeth Oxborrow-Cowan in The Benefits of Capital Investment for Archives) could be applied in practice for planning rather than retrospectively, and how we’ve used the Customer Service Excellence framework.  I look at what lessons can be drawn for other archives in the HE sector.  It’s a case study, so limited word count – but can be read at

I don’t think Elizabeth’s Capital Investment report got the publicity and sharing it deserved: it’s a good piece of work with some important evaluation of the capital funding for UK archives.


Developing archives – Northern Collaboration Learning Exchange

The day is summarised at

Although chairing/hosting/speaking (and so close to the event), I found the key themes of the day were

  • the importance of clear priorities and plans/strategies for implementing these – preferably aligned to those of the parent institution!
  • Getting the balance between the imaginative use of opportunities, taking calculated risks whilst still keeping sight of the needs of collections and users
  • Focussing on simple ways of doing things and not letting the perfect be the enemy of the good – closely linked to the previous one
  • using tools for service improvement – like accreditation, customer service excellence, and models like the SSC dependency model developed by Elizabeth Oxborrow-Cowan

And finally

  • the virtuous circle of ambition and courage to do things differently/say yes or no, based on unique and distinctive collections and a commitment by staff to have these used.

Not entirely sure how the obvious appetite for collaboration might be satisfied but for now, lots of goodwill is encouraging: I love working in the HE sector (even if it’s made me too busy to post for nearly a year…may do some catching up soon)

Cultural commissioning seminar

I’ve been experimenting with Storify recently to help me quickly capture an experience or a journey – partly as a reflective tool, partly to process what I’ve seen/heard/learnt/experienced.

Here’s the report of my attendance at the Cultural Commissioning seminar this week:

Collections Information Policy – in draft

As mentioned a few weeks back, I’ve been working on a Collections Information Policy for Archives and Special Collections here at the University of Huddersfield.

I now have a draft which is out to consultation including from the wider professional community.

Please feel free to comment!

Voices of the Holocaust

I make no apology for repeating the topic of a previous post on Holocaust Memorial Day (27th January).   Go and look at/listen to the Voices of the Holocaust website – the earliest known oral histories of the Holocaust, recorded by David Boder (born Aron Mendel Michelson, 1886-1961).  Boder was an academic then at Chicago who during 1946 recorded the immediate experiences of trauma from ‘Displaced Persons’ before most people had begun to deal with their experiences.

…Boder’s recordings, conducted so soon after the war, remain unique and utterly absorbing.  to hear them is to once again enter a room somewhere in Europe as a young man or woman leans forward and, for the first time, shares a life that for five years has been shattered, and for this wise and gentle interviewer to accumulate another fragment in his terrible mosaic.  (Mark Burman)

Boder himself had been a refugee, fleeing the Russian civil war in 1919 via Japan and Mexico and losing his second wife in the Mexican flu epidemic.  He spoke nine languages.  His training in clinical interviewing and “his multilingual, nuanced understanding of east Europe’s fault lines” made him perhaps uniquely qualified for the task.  The website, from the Galvin Library Illinois Institute of Technology, is a model of archival presentation and deserves your attention, as does Boder and his work.

“Trust dies but mistrust blossoms”: big data, personal data and “information sovereignty”

Demos published a report on “The Data Dialogue” in September 2012 with

the results of the largest ever poll of public attitudes on personal information and data- sharing. Based on a representative sample of 5,000 adults, the report finds a growing crisis in consumer confidence over how government and business handle personal data, and discomfort about the way in which personal information and data are currently being used.

The report argues that this loss of confidence could have a knock-on effect on the economy and on the quality of services available to consumers. However, it also finds that views about sharing change when people are given more control and choice about what data is shared, and when the benefit of sharing that data is made clear to them. It therefore suggests that consumers should be engaged in an honest dialogue about how data are collected and used, and be given meaningful choice and control over the information they share. That will be good for business and consumers alike.

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Child abuse inquiries

First, go and read Lawrence Serewicz’ blogpost on Jimmy Savile, the Shaw report, and England’s archives.

After Scotland and England, this week the focus widens again to encompass Wales as today Home Secretary Theresa May announces a new police investigation into allegations of child abuse in north Wales in the 1970s and 1980s.

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