Ten Years of the Archives Hub
A potted history of the Hub
The Archives Hub began in 1999 with a pilot project, where fifteen universities were funded to create collection level descriptions. “The contributing institutions created over 3,000 descriptions. Most of them were collection level descriptions but around 10% were full finding aids” (Hill, 2002)
The Hub officially became a Jisc service in March 2001 which enabled the Hub to fund the creation of new collection-level content from 24 new institutions. This meant we were able to officially launch with a critical mass of content already within the Hub.
We have continued to look to the future and develop the service. In 2009, we moved to Cheshire 3 - the latest version of the software underpinning the service, and in 2010 we engaged in a re-branding exercise that culminated in a more proactive and energetic way of talking about ourselves, a new website and new promotional materials.
We are continually developing and expanding the Hub, and we now have approximately 25,000 descriptions from 200 institutions.
A more detailed history of the Hub can be found in 'Bringing Archives Online through the Archives Hub by Amanda Hill. ( (PDF. Pre-print version from Journal of Society of Archivists).
You can also find out a little more about the Hub members on our Meet the Team page.
What people said...
Some of you will have seen that last week I asked our Hub contributors to tell us what they thought of the Archives Hub and what it means to them. We got some fantastic responses.
Janette Martin from the University of Huddersfield said:
"I have great affection for the Archives Hub as both an archivist and a researcher. As a hard pressed archivist in the early 2000s, with little time for cataloguing, submitting collection level descriptions to the Hub made me feel like I was achieving something when detailed cataloguing was a distant dream. Getting out ISAD (G) compliant top level information that alerted the research community that a collection existed was very important. And now, with my historian’s hat on, when I’m researching new topics or individuals the first place I look for manuscripts and archives is the Hub. I rave about its potential to undergraduates looking for a dissertation topic, telling them to look what’s out there before deciding on a research theme. So thank you Archives Hub – you’ve inspired me!"
Alison Cullingford from Special Collections at the University of Bradford wrote a blog post called "I heart Archives Hub" in which she discusses how the Archives Hub has helped the Bradford Special Collections service. Here are her '10 reason I heart the Hub'.
- It offered a way forward in dealing with the unmapped, uncatalogued archives at Bradford. The first Hub project funded us to create collection descriptions, getting our massive cataloguing project underway.
- The Hub helps researchers at Bradford and everywhere to find out where archives are, easily.
- It helps me to help staff and students, and to do my job e.g. offering sensible alternatives to donors whose archives aren’t suitable for our collections.
- The Hub offers useful free training to users and contributors.
- The team are friendly and helpful, and genuinely invite suggestions from users and contributors.
- Our use of the Hub for archive descriptions has helped us to impress funders.
- It helps archives market their collections through the monthly features. PaxCat Project featured recently.
- The Hub approach is flexible. You can contribute collection or multi-level descriptions, your data can be hosted centrally or locally as a Spoke, and a range of standards can be used e.g. LCSH or Unesco for subject headings.
- The Hub and COPAC are managed together, which makes sense as both are about bringing historic collections to wider audiences. I am also very appreciative of COPAC in raising awareness of our rare book and pamphlet collections.
- Inter-operability is at the heart of the the Hub, making it flexible and allowing all sorts of exciting future developments. I’m rather excited about the potential of linked data. Watch this space!
Ian Johnston, Archives and Special Collections Coordinator at the University of Salford feels that:
"The Hub is an invaluable resource. It has helped to publicise our collections and ensure that researchers can find them, and allows me to help researchers find unique archive material from across the UK.
Catherine Moriarty from the Brighton Design Archives also wrote:
"To celebrate your 10th anniversary, here are 10 things the Design Archives like about the Archives Hub"
- We value being part of research into resource description and delivery.
- Our material is richer through its connections with other archive descriptions.
- The Hub team provide support & encouragement for our local effort.
- Integrating descriptions with digital objects has been a long-term ambition that the Hub team has helped us realize.
- The Hub is about skill and knowledge-sharing in terms of both process and content.
- The Hub acts as a showcase for the wealth of research resources in British university archives.
- The mechanisms of the Hub facilitate research paths and links between and among our collections, and to others.
- The Hub insists on high standards that ensure our archives are described and presented to great advantage.
- The facility to see archival hierarchies rendered onscreen explains the fundamentals of our practice to wide audiences.
- The Archives Hub advocates for the university archives sector at the highest level.
Thank you all for allowing us to use your quotes to help us celebrate our 10th Anniversary.
Since 2001 we have had 114 features celebrating a wide variety of different subjects and repositories including:
- D. H. Lawrence; the Scottish Brewing Archive; Cecil John Rhodes (1853-1902); the Miner's Strike; Science Fiction Authors; Anglo-Saxons; Stanley Kubrick; Charles Darwin; and George Bernard Shaw.
Since January 2011, we have combined our features with Copac, as the Hub and Copac complement each other as research resources. We have divided our features up into subject groupings or you can browse our chronological list of all features.
Our Archivists section is a part of our website that we have created to help the archival community. Here you will find information on our Collection Policy and Data Creation as well as finding information about the International Standards we use.
From here you can also access our EAD editor which contributors can use to help them encode their descriptions.
The team has been blogging since February 2006. Our blog posts are written for archivists and information professionals. We write about developments on the Hub and advancements in technology, articles and books we have been reading, and events we have attended. We want to help archivists by sharing knowledge and starting conversations on relevant topics.
We started our Twitter account in February 2009 and we now have over 2,300 followers from all over the world. We use twitter not only to broadcast news about the Hub and new developments but also to engage with the archival community and share information about the environment in which we work.
The team is often involved in writing articles and papers about Hub developments and other archive related topics. Here are just a few of them:
- Stevenson, J. and Ruddock, B. (2010) Moving towards interoperability: experiences of the Archives Hub Ariadne issue 63, April 2010 Available from: <http://www.ariadne.ac.uk/issue63/stevenson-ruddock/> [Accessed 04 April 2011]
- Stevenson, J. (2009) Content Architecture: Exploiting and Managing Diverse Resources. Ariadne. Issue 60, July. Available from: <http://www.ariadne.ac.uk/issue60/isko-2009-rpt/> [Accessed 11 January 2010]
- Stevenson, J. (2009) Enhancing the Archives Hub. ARC magazine. No 238, June, pp. 24-25
- Stevenson, J. (2008), What Happens If I Click On This?: Experiences of Using the Archives Hub. Ariadne. Issue 57, October. Available from: <http://www.ariadne.ac.uk/issue57/stevenson/> [Accessed 11 January 2010]
We also have a full list of our publications and presentations.
Copac and the Archives Hub
This year the Archives Hub has begun to work more collaboratively with its sister service Copac. We believe that both services will benefit from working together. We have a joint marketing strategy and are now including collections from both services in our Features section.
There are approximately 40 institutions who contribute to both the Hub and Copac including Bishopsgate Institute, National Library of Scotland, Natural History Museum, Women’s Library and the Wellcome Trust.
You can find more about the collections on the Hub and Copac on our contributing institutions pages: