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

Advertisements

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

Thinking digitally: Commission for Racial Equality publications collection

This month marks a new departure for us at the Resource Centre, as we spread the word about our first open-access digital collection: A (very nearly) full set of the Commission for Racial Equality‘s (CRE) publications.

541 pamphlets, reports, guides, etc etc, covering all aspects of race relations policy, practice and debate in the UK, from 1976 to 2007. These publications can be accessed free, by anyone, through the University of Manchester Library’s digital collections database. We invite you all to browse the collection and spread the word!

Click here to browse the collection!

the image shows the front cover of pamphlet entitled five view of multiracial britain. The cover has a black and white photo of a group of children from different ethnic backgrounds

Continue reading

Reflecting on a busy year

As we wind up for our Christmas break (until Wednesday 3rd January) we’re reflecting on what an action-packed year 2017 has been for us. We’re not very good at shouting about our successes, but our colleagues and stakeholders at the University, in the city council and in the community often comment on how much we achieve for such a small team.

So, in the spirit of giving ourselves a well-deserved pat on the back, here are our 2017 highlights:

photomania-53bca64a6100ef05aefa60d79c9bfbb5 Continue reading

Project-Based Collecting: Telling the whole story at the ARA conference

By Hannah Niblett

Last week Jennie (our Projects Manager) and myself presented at the Archives and Records Association (ARA) conference, here in Manchester. Our paper was called:

Telling the Whole Story: Community partnerships and collection development in the Legacy of Ahmed project

ARA_presentation_with notes_HN.jpg

We’ve been thinking a lot recently about the way we work, as an organisation that undertakes both outreach projects and heritage collection work*. Not only do we give equal weight to these areas of our work, the two have a symbiotic relationship: The outputs of community and schools-based projects (such as oral history interviews, teaching resources, donated ephemera, creative works and publications) are accessioned into the library and archive collections**, ensuring that community voices are preserved for the long-term, but also building a bank of resources to support ongoing outreach work – both our own and other people’s.

It’s the reason we call ourselves a ‘resource centre’ rather than an archive or library; our collections have always been intended to have contemporary, active and practical purposes. Continue reading

Bending the Rules: Archiving the Manchester BME Communities collection

Our freelance archivist Heather Roberts has been working her magic on our large, and until now slightly unwieldy, Manchester Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) Communities collection. Here she reflects on the process and reveals some of the thinking behind her work:

Arranging the Manchester BME Communities collection was an interesting adventure in flexing the rules. As well as deciding what to keep and what not to keep, organising the remaining material was a bit tricky.

the picture shows a row of archive files with colourful papers sticking out of the sides. the label reads 'refugees and immigration'

Continue reading

Exploring archives and ‘Coming in from the Cold’

By Daniella Carrington

For the month of March, my placement duties have shifted focus, from collections to project work. I am assisting with the documentation of ‘Coming in from the Cold‘, the latest project of the Centre’s sister organisation, the Ahmed Iqbal Ullah Education Trust. I get to do photography, which I always enjoy, and practise blogging, my current interest.

The project team had the idea of using a blog to provide updates and insights into the ‘Coming in from the Cold’ project. I was given creative liberties to revitalise an existing blog for the project. In coming up with a concept, I explored the archives at the Centre for visual content and inspiration. The Senior Library Assistant, Ruth Tait, at one point became an impromptu model while I photographed the Ann Adeyemi collection (more on the blog about Ann Adeyemi here). Listening to Ruth talk about the people and history within the collection, showed her knowledge but also her working relationship with the archives.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Continue reading

10 steps to binding a book: A lesson in conservation

By Daniella Carrington

As part of my placement, I got a half day to learn about preservation techniques, by getting hands on experience in book binding. Leading the lesson was Nic Rayner, Conservation Officer at Archives+ – the archive partnership the Ahmed Iqbal Ullah Race Relations Resource Centre is a part of. Nic assists the Centre by assessing the condition of new archival material acquired, and in general advises on preservation.

Getting into the book binding process. Photo taken by Hannah Landsman.

Getting into the book binding process. Photo taken by Hannah Landsman.

Continue reading

Finding my place at the Centre

We’re delighted to have Daniella Carrington, a postgraduate Museum Studies student, working with us over the next few months as Collections and Projects Assistant. She comes to us through the Institute for Cultural Practices placement scheme, University of Manchester, and we’re already making full use of her skills and knowledge. Here she reflects on her first month in post…

It has been (technically) one month since I began a work placement at the Ahmed Iqbal Ullah Race Relations Resource Centre. How time flies! Learning about this rather special place, how they were founded, and the kind of needful work they do, has been an enriching experience so far. I got to know the staff both personally and professionally, peruse the library, and even get an up close look at the archive to understand the scope of work at the Centre and its sister organisation the Ahmed Iqbal Ullah Education Trust.

In the library. Photo taken by Hannah Niblett of the Ahmed Iqbal Ullah Race Relations Resource Centre

In the library. Photo taken by Hannah Niblett of the Ahmed Iqbal Ullah Race Relations Resource Centre

Continue reading

Archiving our US Civil Rights material

Documentation Assistant Carly Morel is currently pulling together various bits of American Civil Rights material to create a new open-ended archive collection. She highlights a couple of interesting items for us:

With US politics so much in the headlines at the moment, I thought, what better time to tackle our US Civil Rights material?

image of four old civil rights journals Continue reading