Archives at a distance

Cammies, Ruth (2020). Archives at a distance. In: Northern Collaboration 2020 Conference, 18-19 Nov 2020, Online.


Since 1969 The Open University has enabled over 2 million students to receive an education using distance learning methods. The Open University Archive, based within Library Services, supports current students, staff, alumni, external researchers and the general public by providing access to archived OU teaching materials, special collections and other historical university archives. As many of our users will never visit the archive – or even the OU campus in Milton Keynes - key aims of the archive team are to provide access to digital (or digitised) materials where possible – to enable the use of archive materials within online teaching and research, and to promote a sense of a shared community and history for our diverse student and alumni population.

This paper will explore how the OU Digital Archive, launched in 2016, has been developed to facilitate access to OU Archives, but also to tell the unique history of the OU through guided online exhibitions and featured items – even allowing remote students to explore their University campus! The paper will also look at a case study where an archive collection is being used in teaching, and the use of social media by the Archive team to promote the OU’s history.

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