Why use the AIU Centre archive?

cartoon books and globe on shelvesResearch Skills Series

By Alison Newby

Anyone putting together a research project or hammering out a dissertation topic has a lot to think about. What’s the subject? How’s it going to be investigated? What kind of information will be necessary? And where’s that information going to come from?

Here are two reasons why I believe the AIU Centre archive is a resource worth considering for studies covering a wide range of subject areas. It might not be immediately apparent that a Centre making available materials facilitating the study of race relations would be relevant to you, but hopefully by the end of this post its potential significance may have become clearer.

1. Qualitative data brings quantitative data to life Continue reading

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Ways into the Collection: Serendipity

cartoon books and globe on shelvesResearch Skills Series

By Alison Newby

In previous posts, we’ve discussed the importance of the Ahmed Iqbal Ullah Race Relations Resource Centre (AIU Centre) and its collections, touched on some of the realities of archives and archival research, and looked at the kinds of questions we need to ask ourselves before engaging with an archive collection. We’ve also delved into the two main ways into the collection:

We might be forgiven for thinking that’s about it. However, we’ve briefly mentioned a third way into the collection, which we’re going to take a look at here:

  • Serendipity (just going in and browsing)

So you’ll be able to dip into this post to find information that’s particularly interesting to you, I’ll be looking at serendipity under the following headings:

  1. What is Serendipity?
  2. Serendipity in action

Continue reading

Ways into the Collection: The ‘Human Interface’

cartoon books and globe on shelvesResearch Skills Series

By Alison Newby

In a previous post we looked at the kinds of questions we need to ask ourselves before engaging with a resource such as the Ahmed Iqbal Ullah Race Relations Resource Centre (AIU Centre), and we learnt that there are three ways into the collection:

  • Databases (including subject area resource lists)
  • ‘Human Interface’ (speaking to the librarian and/or Collections Access Officer)
  • Serendipity (just going in and browsing)

This time I’ll be looking at the ‘Human Interface’.

The ‘Human Interface’ with any library or archive comprises those individuals whose role is to take care of the collection, answer questions from users, find information, or give advice regarding the materials the library or archive contains. In relation to the Centre, subject area resource lists and databases can produce raw data about materials which might be relevant to a topic, but interacting with a knowledgeable human being (in writing or face-to-face) opens up a whole new level of insight. Such an individual can give guidance tailored to what you in particular want to know.

In this post, I’ll be giving insight into who the Centre’s human interfaces are and how they can smooth our way into the Centre’s resources. So you’ll be able to dip in to find what’s particularly interesting to you, I’ll be covering the subject in the following sections:

  1. Introducing the Centre’s ‘Human Interfaces’ – Hannah Niblett & Ruth Tait
  2. Ruth Tait’s insights into the strengths of the Centre and its collections
  3. Ruth Tait’s advice on how to prepare for consulting the ‘Human Interfaces’

Continue reading

Ways into the Collection: Databases

cartoon books and globe on shelvesResearch Skills Series

By Alison Newby

Last time we discussed the importance of the Ahmed Iqbal Ullah Race Relations Resource Centre (AIU Centre) and its collections, touching on some of the realities of archives and archival research, and looking at the kinds of questions we need to ask ourselves before engaging with an archive collection. This time we’ll be moving on to begin checking out the ways relevant Centre resources can be identified and accessed. 

There are three ways into the collection:

  • Databases  (including subject area resource lists)
  • ‘Human Interface’  (speaking to the librarian and/or Collections Access Officer)
  • Serendipity (just going in and browsing)

Which one you start with is very much up to you and your preferred style. This time I’ll be introducing the different database options at your disposal. I’ll be looking at the ‘Human Interface’ and serendipity in future posts.

Currently the Centre doesn’t have one dedicated searchable database for you to consult devoted to bringing together all the items in its own book and archive collections. Centre collections feature on a number of databases, each geared to its own purposes, placing the Centre’s offerings in amongst those of a variety of other institutions. It’s not always easy to identify the material in the Centre relevant to your interests. Therefore this blog post gives you information and hints that should smooth your way into finding what you need.

So you’ll be able to dip in to find what’s particularly interesting to you, I’ll be covering the subject under the following headings:

  1. First stop – subject area resource lists
  2. Main databases to build a relevant list of Centre resources
  3. Getting hold of the material
  4. Other databases, research aids and links to related collections

Continue reading

Ways into the Collection: Questions to ask yourself

cartoon books and globe on shelves

Research Skills Series

By Alison Newby

The Ahmed Iqbal Ullah Race Relations Resource Centre (AIU Centre) is the premier resource centre in the country devoted to making available materials to facilitate the study of race relations. As such, it’s consulted by researchers from across the world. We at the University of Manchester are fortunate that it’s situated down the road from us in Manchester Central Library. The AIU Centre is the University’s flagship representative in the regional archive umbrella group Archives+. That we have such easy access to it is a rare privilege we should all appreciate and take advantage of.

That’s if we know the relevance of race relations-related resources to our studies, and if we understand how to make the most of the collections. A couple of big ‘ifs’.

The blog posts I’ll be contributing are designed to help us think through these issues. I’ll be taking a look at the kinds of resources held by the Centre, and what they have to offer to various subject areas. Hopefully it will become easier for us to use those resources more efficiently and optimally to enrich our studies.

I’m going to start by trying to get to grips with understanding how to make the most of the collections. In this post, we’ll touch on:

  • some of the realities of archives and archival research that we need to bear in mind
  • questions to ask ourselves that will help our preparations to engage an archive collection

With the stage set, in three posts we’ll look at each of the three ways into the AIU Centre’s collections:

So let’s make a start… Continue reading