Ulster University has announced that the under-threat CAIN archive based at Magee will be extended for nine months during which time permanent funding options will be explored.
In February, the Derry News revealed UU’s plan to close the definitive Troubles archive at its Magee Campus which would’ve resulted in job losses for the three individuals tasked with maintenance of the site.
The university insisted that CAIN would remain fully and freely available online, however, left unmanned it would have essentially been allowed to “wither on the vine”, as one contributor said.
Academics and researchers who use CAIN around the world mounted a staunch defence of the valuable digital record.
An announcement made by the university on June 19 revealed that CAIN will remain an active archive for a further nine months, beginning on August 1, while funding is sought.
If this funding cannot be found, then work will be undertaken to convert CAIN to a static archive during the three months from 1 May to 31 July 2020.
In a statement issued to the Derry News at the weekend, Ulster University said it appreciated the constructive and supportive input from a range of stakeholders.
“The consultation confirmed our view that CAIN is highly regarded as an impartial, reliable and valuable resource for researchers, students, journalists and wider civic society.
"Whilst no immediate external funding commitments were secured, encouraging potential opportunities arose from the consultation that merit full consideration.
"Generous support from ARK – Northern Ireland’s social policy information hub - will maintain CAIN in its current active form for a further 9 months from 1 August 2019, enabling these to be taken forward," the spokesperson added.
UU said it will now pursue the emerging funding opportunities over the coming months and will be working hard with interested partners and stakeholders to bring this potential investment to fruition.
If a sustainable funding model is not secured during that time, the archive will begin the transition to a static archive, but will continue to be fully and freely accessible online and remain a valuable resource for those who use it, a UU spokesperson explained.
"The encouraging level of interest in the future of CAIN reflects Ulster University’s continued leadership in the field of peace and conflict studies. As we further develop our research and teaching in peace building and reconciliation, we are also hosting a workshop with key stakeholders at our Magee campus in July, exploring future peace archiving opportunities. "The CAIN archive remains integral to this continued work, as a valued civic asset.
As part of our continued commitment to INCORE at our Magee campus we continue to develop new opportunities to study peace and conflict at Magee, including strengthened delivery of the highly regarded Clinton International Summer School.
"INCORE’s global research credentials alongside the Hume-O’Neill Chair in Peace also based at our Magee campus, continue to attract global dignitaries and international delegations keen to learn from our expertise in this field.”
The Ulster University consultation on the future of CAIN was held between 7 February and 2 May 2019. There were 103 individual responses and a 'joint letter' to Ulster University was signed by 439 academics, many of whom added comments.
The majority of respondents urged the university to maintain CAIN as a live archive with dedicated staff to add new materials, carry out updates, and answer queries.
Following the close of the consultation a number of follow-up meetings and discussions were held. A range of options were outlined.
CAIN is helping to organise a workshop in July which will focus on lessons that can be learned from archivists at institutions in the US, UK, and Europe.
CAIN and senior staff wish to engage with potential funders around the possibility of core funding for a period of two to three years.
This would allow a major overhaul of the technology of the CAIN website and a wide range of updates to be carried out to the primary information and source materials on the site.
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