Converged and professional: the model of archive, library and museum services at the University of Edinburgh’s Centre for Research Collections

Comma (2016), 2016, (1-2), 125–134.


This paper considers a practical example of the benefits of close cooperation between the different professional disciplines of archives, librarianship and museum curation. In 2008 the University of Edinburgh opened a new Centre for Research Collections in the Main Library, to bring together for the first time all the main heritage collections and make them available to users in the same space. The benefits of co-location were much greater than anticipated from the perspectives both of users and of staff development. User demand has increased from around 8,000 consultations per year to around 25,000, with a high level of support for being able to access different collection formats through the same on-site or online journey. Staff from different professional backgrounds work together on project development, service improvements and with the integrated open digital collections. Specific benefits to the archives have included a strong presence in the Centre’s exhibitions, working with the museum professionals to achieve joint archives and museums accreditation status, a shared Collections Management Policy, and support from a cross-collection User Services team. The converged model has helped with the development of projects on collections containing multiple format types, or with hybrid characteristics, while also revealing interesting differences between different professional positions on metadata, collection development and public engagement.

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Author details

Marshall, Joseph