What is an archive?

What is an archive? Archives are unique records which document the history of people, places and events. They are created in a range of formats. Parchment, paper, volumes, images, photographs, digital records and objects can all be found. Businesses, governments, councils, schools and universities all have archives. In many cases, museums and libraries also preserve special collections linked to their objects.

An archive is also the buildings and rooms records are kept in. These rooms are generally temperature controlled and have specialist shelving to help ensure the long term preservation of the items being stored.

Click below for a video introduction to archives

A different information professional is responsible for the record at different stages of processing. Records managers are responsible for effectively managing current information. These records can be in both physical or digital formats. Once these records are no longer in active use, but have been identified as having historical value, they are transferred to an archive. An archivist is an information professional who processes, and provides access to these records. Conservators are required throughout the process to carry out record repairs when needed. Extensive training means that fixing tears, re binding books and restoring paintings are just some of the specialist skills conservators have.

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Before the Archive

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Caring for Archives

Archivists across the UK and Ireland have submitted images from their collections to the image gallery below. Click to see examples of images you could find when you visit a record office near you.

Logo - Archive revealed in blue.