The role of archives is increasingly under scrutiny. We must find new ways of demonstrating the cultural, social, financial and psychological impact that archives have on people and society.
Potential research questions
- How can we reveal hidden histories and a diversity of subcultures to ensure the greatest possible representation and reach of archives?
- How can we develop the sustainability of archives for future generations?
- How can the economic, financial and social benefits of archives be quantified?
- How are the mechanisms and policies of heritage protection, such as export licensing, evolving in the new hybrid cultural and technical environment?
- How are digital records appraised both for significance and for market valuations? Does value reside in the rights rather than in the data?
- What physiological and psychological responses may occur when people access archives and how may this contribute to the development of archival ethics?
Core research challenges
Evidencing and demonstrating the value of archives
We will conduct research to establish an evidence-based approach to impact for archives to aid sustainability and accountability across the sector. This requires exploration of the most effective measurements, both qualitative and quantitative, that archives can use to evidence the impact of their work.
Impact on culture, heritage and national identity
We aim to evidence how archives can help unearth forgotten pasts, strengthen individual identity and wellbeing and enhance our cultural and national heritage. By developing new recordkeeping practice and public engagement programmes, the archive sector has the potential to connect more people to our wider collective memory, whilst also more broadly influencing both national practice and policy.
The experience of the archive
We will examine the user’s experience of archives and their physical and sensory responses to collections. We will explore new practices and ethics for the socially responsible use of archives, particularly around sensitive records. We will also explore the role of the archivist: how they represent and react to affect, and how the records affect archivists themselves.
Envisioning new business models for archives
We will explore new financial and organisational models to enable the archive sector to confront the digital challenge and be sustainable for the future. We are particularly interested in the potential of digital infrastructures that could allow archives to collaborate, such as distributed ledger technology.
Contact us if you would like to work with us to explore any of the research questions or challenges above.