Ciara Joyce, Archivist, Special Collections & Archives
Every year the Archives and Records Association run a campaign to promote awareness and use of archival collections held in repositories across Ireland. For the past few years this event has been called the Explore Your Archives campaign. It runs from the 14th until the 22nd of November, with this years campaign being formally launched by Senator David Norris on the 12th of November.
The idea behind the campaign is a very simple one. Archives services in Ireland are generally small organisations with limited resources. Each run events year round promoting their collections and the services they offer. The Explore Your Archives campaign is the one countrywide co-ordinated event to help create awareness of what goes on in archival repositories, and to highlight the treasures retained by these institutions.
So, what exactly are archives and how do they differ from book collections?
Archives are original documents that have historic value because they contain unique information and are therefore preserved for all time. They are also called primary sources.
Although generally referred to as documents, these items contain information in a variety of formats including; on parchment and paper, photographs, vinyl, audio cassette and electronic records.
Unlike books and printed material, these items are unique and irreplaceable and therefore have distinct requirements regarding their care and use.
Archives at Maynooth University Library
At Maynooth University Library, the archive service is part of the Special Collections & Archives section, housed on the second floor of the John Paul II Library. It is an active collecting repository that preserves and provides access to archives of private origin from a variety of sources. The collections span three centuries, from the early 18th century, right down to 2012 and include the papers of academics, writers, politicians and other professionals are well as documents of local interest.
Collections of note that are available to researchers include the papers of the Nigerian writer and activist Ken Saro-Wiwa (1941-1995), papers of renowned Irish poet Pearse Hutchinson (1927-2012), letters by notorious Irish banker and politician John Sadleir (1813-1856), papers of Irish writer and broadcaster Father Desmond Forristal (1930-2012), papers of Irish playwright Teresa Deevy (1894-1963) and legal documents relating to the Burrows family of Giltown, County Kildare (1720-1848).
Access to the archives is provided to students in the Special Collections and Archives reading room on the second floor of the library. The collections are also open, by appointment, to external readers interested in consulting the archives.
As well as caring for and providing access to the collections, the Archive service is also involved in a number of outreach activities including organising exhibitions, giving talks to students and staff and giving tours to visitors to the Library.
Explore Your Archives
This year as part of the Explore Your Archives campaign staff from Special Collections & Archives will be blogging about their favourite documents in the University Library collection. There will be a new document featured each day on the blog and on our Facebook page (Maynooth University Library), so please check in with us during the week for a sneak peek at some of the highlight from the collection.
If you would like to know more about the archives please feel free to drop us an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or call into the reading room during opening hours.