£200k investment will “super-charge” research capacity at University of Stirling

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Historic records held in the University's archives

The University of Stirling is to significantly upgrade the technology supporting its Archives and Special Collections after receiving a major funding award.

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) is providing £196,148 to boost the reprographic technologies of the University’s archival and art collections, as part of an extensive funding drive to expand and upgrade existing research infrastructure.

In total, £213 million – from the government’s World Class Labs funding scheme and delivered through eight of UKRI’s constituent research councils – is being invested in all disciplines, from physical sciences to arts and humanities. This includes a landmark £15m in the arts and humanities – via the Capability for Collections fund – which will go towards securing the future of the UK’s galleries, libraries, archives and museums by improving the back of house spaces that drive the success of these institutions, and to supporting the staff who diligently maintain these spaces.

At Stirling, the funding award will allow the installation of new, state-of-the-art equipment, which will provide a high-specification single system of digital scanning and photography, boosting research and innovation capability.

Historic records held in the University's archives

Historic records held in the University's Archives

The upgraded system will also enable the creation of a regional 'digitisation hub' for heritage services in the Forth Valley area. The new technology will be made available to the region’s libraries, archives, museums, and creative community, in order to open up their collections, and encourage new collaborations, partnerships and opportunities for academics and researchers.

University Archivist, Karl Magee, said: “This new equipment brings a host of benefits. It will super-charge the University’s digital capacity for archival research and knowledge exchange, opening up access to the entire range of our collections for the first time. We are very excited by the opportunities which this investment brings, developing new skills and experience for staff and students and strengthening the University’s ability to support new research and innovation in the digital humanities.

"This major investment is a welcome boost to the University Archives and Art Collection, supporting our work with the academic community to build resilient and sustainable digital resources for the future.”

Unique collections

The University Archives hold historical collections of the University which cover a wide range of subjects including film, literature, politics, medicine and sport. Its team provides advice and assistance to academic staff and researchers on how to make effective use of the unique archival and art collections, helping them connect the University's thematic approach to research projects and wider knowledge exchange activities.

Professor Richard Haynes, Associate Dean for Research in the University’s Faculty of Arts and Humanities, said: “The funding for high-end reprographic technology will greatly improve the University’s research infrastructure in terms of our capacity to digitise our special collections. It will not only benefit researchers working with the University archive service, but also provide a new resource for our regional partners in the library, museum and heritage sectors.”

Professor Christopher Smith, Executive Chair of the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) said: “AHRC are proud to support the Capability for Collections Fund as a landmark investment in our galleries, libraries, archives, museums and special collections.

“Our Collections organisations form the backbone of our heritage economy and act as a vital resource and source of inspiration for many diverse researchers. They are important drivers of innovation and maintaining and supporting them helps to create a healthier, more resilient society.

“AHRC recognises that investment in maintaining and improving research and development facilities will offer vital support and help to carry these organisations into a more sustainable and innovative future.”

The University of Stirling is one of a number of institutions to benefit from the Capability in Collections fund. Other organisations include London’s V&A, The Tate and National Museum Wales.