Simple, sustainable, scalable: Developing online engagement and research resources for heritage collections (Lightning Talk)

25th May 202312:30Tivoli Suite


The Special Collections and Archives Department at the Glucksman Library, University of Limerick, developed and launched a new website in 2018, with a view to creating accessible research resources and opening up its collections to its researchers in new ways. The website, and its associated blog and social media account, all play a vital role in user engagement, but naturally, in a busy department, any digital offer must be sustainable in the long-term. The key to this is to create simple, reusable and scalable resources, working with that we have, within time and budgetary constraints.

This paper explores the main decisions behind the design of the department’s various online research resources and outreach activities. As a recent example, it focuses on the ‘Opening a Window to the Past’ project, which was developed in conjunction with the UL History Department, and funded by the National Forum for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education. Using archival diaries as a working example, this resource aims to build basic archival and information literacy, and explores useful historical research methods. It is designed to be used both in the classroom, as well as asynchronously and autonomously as required. It teaches users at all levels everything department staff would wish them to know before they undertake archival research, and allows them to engage with its various lessons to whatever level is most appropriate for them. Aside from the practical considerations of technical sustainability, the paper argues that open educational resources such as these can also greatly increase the sustainability of the department’s overall teaching and learning programme, as it makes both core archival literacy skills training and digitised archival material freely available online.