Archives are unique records created by organisations or individuals that have continuing or historic value. These records are valuable as they provide insight into the behaviour and actions of the people who made them and therefore provide an important perspective on past events. Archive materials are often fragile and require specialist enclosures and environmental conditions to help reduce rates of deterioration and ensure that they are preserved for the long-term.
For several decades, historical material owned by SRUC (Scotland's Rural College) was stored away in locked shelves or cupboards. These materials were too old and their media too outmoded to form any meaningful part of a traditional library collection. That these materials were kept for so long is a clear sign of their value. However, without a formal policy regarding storage, preservation and accessibility, the result was that these resources were left uncatalogued and invisible to researchers, while also deteriorating without the specialist storage and care required of such material (some of which is centuries old). It was obvious that this situation could no longer continue.
In 2016, we began work on our archive collections. This involved a basic listing of the oldest and potentially most vulnerable materials and carrying out research into their origins. We discovered important archival documents dating back to the 1890s, relating to our three founding colleges: The East of Scotland College of Agriculture (ESCA), the North of Scotland College of Agriculture (NOSCA) and the West of Scotland Agricultural College (WSAC). We continue to carry out work to arrange and catalogue our collections to make them more widely accessible.
To identify, preserve and make accessible institutional records of SRUC and its predecessors which document its history, achievements and contribute to its sense of identity.
In future, we hope to develop archival collections which support the teaching and research needs of SRUC, as well as those of the agricultural and scientific community more widely. In addition, we will look to build our collection relating to agriculture and rural life in Scotland throughout history.
We aim to:
Ensure that SRUC’s archives are stored and managed correctly to guarantee that they are safely preserved.
Promote and make accessible the records held by SRUC archives. Arrange, describe and create appropriate finding aids to improve accessibility.
Provide an enquiry service to support researchers, students, staff and the public.
Enhance research and education by creating new opportunities for building knowledge by developing our understanding of past actions and events.