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'Enhancing Impact, Inspiring Excellence: collaborative approaches between archives and universities’

September 4, 2013
Cadbury Research Library, University of Birmingham

Cadbury Research Library, Muirhead Tower
University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham B15 2TT
United Kingdom

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  • The National Archives
  • Research Libraries UK
  • The Institute of Historical Research
  • Adlib Software


Matt Greenhall
The National Archives of the UK
Sue Worrall
University of Birmingham

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 Conference Title: 'Enhancing Impact, Inspiring Excellence: collaborative approaches between archives and universities’

 Conference Date: 4th September 2013

 Conference Venue: Cadbury Research Library, University of Birmingham, B15 2TT.

 Deadline for Submissions: Monday 6th May 2013

 Method of Submission: Electronic submission to organisers (details at end)

 This conference will bring together archivists, academics, students, and funders to discuss the ways in which archives and universities can work together, strengthen existing partnerships, and identify those for the future.

The conference will take the format of a series of practice-led case studies examining ways in which academics, archives, and universities are already working together and how these relationships can be developed and shared. It will highlight the important role archives can play in supporting universities in teaching and research, the means of developing joint initiatives, and areas of future collaboration. The conference will conclude with a series of workshops that will identify tangible steps through which partnerships can be increased and new opportunities for cross-working identified.

·         A call for papers is issued for 20 minute case studies of current university-archive partnerships and papers examining ways in which these partnerships can be developed further and shared across the sector.

·         A call is also put out for shorter, 5-10 minute ‘intense case studies’ focusing on practical experiences of cross-working. Preference will be given to students and practitioners who are actively engaged in archival research and the working life of an archive (e.g. joint doctoral students, placement students, and interns).

Non-academic practitioners are also encouraged to submit either a paper or a case study.

Prospective speakers are invited to submit a 300 word abstract for a 20 minute paper and 150 word abstract for a ‘case study paper’ by Monday 6th May 2013. These will be included within the conference brochure given to delegates on the day.

In addition to the planned sessions a ‘market place’ will be held over lunch for archives, publishers, and academic bodies to promote their services and for the sale of merchandise. Tours will also be offered of the Cadbury Research Library.


Archives have had a long history of working collaboratively with academics, universities and funding councils. Whether belonging to universities, local authorities or private institutions, archives have delivered joint doctoral programmes; have shared staff and expertise, and have provided valuable learning experiences to undergraduates and postgraduates alike. The collections held by archives frequently sit at the heart of ground-breaking academic research of international importance, in a range of disciplines, which in turn is at the centre of the 2013 REF, whereas working partnerships between archives and academics can contribute to the REF impact agenda. Academics have provided invaluable insight into the historical importance of collections, have placed their contents within wider historical landscapes, and have introduced new audiences to the possibilities of archival research. Yet the opportunities for establishing collaborative working and partnerships between archives, universities, and individual academics are frequently unclear. They often depend on geographical proximity between an archive and a university or correspond with the research interests of an individual academic.

This conference will showcase some of the varied work completed by the academic community when working with archives. It will also showcase the unique skills and knowledge held by archivists and how these can contribute to wider research agendas and student learning experiences. This conference will inform archivists of the opportunities available to them for working in partnership with universities, including the building of their research profiles and for further collection development.

Discussions will also be held surrounding the need to document research outputs relating to archival collections, and the potential use of this to develop sustainable services and demonstrate the importance of archives within their respective organisations.


·         To highlight existing working partnerships between archives, universities and academics.

·         To identify new and innovative approaches to research partnerships and archives contributing to the student learning experience.

·         Consider the various methods through which existing partnerships can be developed and future collaboration forged.

·         To raise awareness amongst academics, universities and funding bodies of the specialist knowledge and skills contained within archives.

·         To raise awareness amongst archivists of current academic research, the forthcoming REF and its likely impact.

·         To raise awareness amongst archivists of the potential to collaborate with academics and the available funding streams through which this can be achieved.

·         To discuss ways of recording/capturing academic publications which make reference to individual archival collections.

·         To offer tangible illustrations of research and learning partnerships between universities and record offices and the impact this can have on REF impact agenda and the NSS.

Submission of Abstracts: Please send an electronic copy of your abstract as an attachment (MS word or equivalent preferred) to BOTH of the conference organisers (details below) before Monday 6th May. We will contact potential speakers in early June in relation to their inclusion in the day’s programme.

Sue Worrall

Director of Special Collections

Cadbury Research Library Academic Services

University of Birmingham

B15 2TT

United Kingdom

Tel.:  +44(0)121 414 6066



Matt Greenhall

Engagement Manager

The National Archives

Kew, Richmond, Surrey


United Kingdom

Tel.:  +44 (0)20 8392 5330 ext 2221



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