Let’s dream. Imagine for a moment how many records are held in an archives repository. You could be thinking big or small here, it really doesn’t matter, but just choose one. No doubt there would be many, many thousands (if not millions) of items held there – photos, paintings, maps, documents, diaries, memoirs, ephemera, artifacts, the list goes on and on. And there are usually multiple rooms full of shelves that are choc-a-block full. So you have your image? Now times the size of your archive by 34. That’s right, THIRTY FOUR! Can imagine the number of records in THAT collection then? And can imagine having information about all of those records from your own computer?
Well you can. And it’s all thanks to Irish Archives Resource (IAR). Yes, really!
But who are Irish Archives Resource? Essentially volunteers, but if you want to read the official wording it says …
“The Irish Archives Resource is a voluntary group supported by the Archives and Records Association, Ireland and the School of History and Archives, University College Dublin. It is an all Ireland portal funded by The Heritage Council, the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht and the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure.”
Essentially the Irish Archives Resource is an …
“… online database which contains searchable archival descriptions. It does not hold any archives or records but provides a means to search archival descriptions from various contributing institutions”.
So in some ways is similar to UKs Access to Archives (A2A) website, collecting descriptions of holdings from numerous archives, and making them searchable on the one website.
For a listing of all 34 archives currently involved, visit this link: http://www.iar.ie/Links.shtml.
As impressive as the project is aldready, they have ambitions to take it a whole lot further. With funding, it aims to expand the current number of contributing archives from 34 to up to 70. And it is also hoped that collections from the IAR portal will eventually feed into similar major Europe-wide archival web initiatives such as Europeana and Apex.
If you have Irish ancestry be sure to bookmark the Irish Archives Resource (IAR) and keep an eye on it for future development.
For a more comprehensive report on this Irish Archives Resource relaunch, check Claire Santry’s post “New Irish Archives Resource site links 34 archives“.