Empower the East: The EARC Archives and Special Collections Strategy

‘Double Eclipse of the Moon’ by Raúl Piña (1998), in the ESCALA collection at the University of Essex


To empower the archives and special collections of the Eastern Arc universities to take an active role in leading our research and informing our education.


To work collectively to integrate, influence and advocate on behalf of our collections, and thereby demonstrate their value in extending the boundaries of knowledge and learning and in being a catalyst for creativity engagement.


To achieve our mission and fulfil our vision, we have three broad objectives. 

    • Integrate: To identify the common and complementary themes between our collections, and collaborate to build on them. The Eastern Arc universities are home to outstanding art collections, rare archives and unique repositories. We have already identified common threads that bind them together, but we will go deeper to build commonalities as a basis for our collaborations. 
    • Influence: To create and develop resources that will enable better understanding and wider engagement with our collections, within and beyond our universities. Our archives, in common with those of many universities across the country, have been the Cinderella of the research system, their potential often overlooked and opportunities underutilised. We will develop resources that will help internal and external stakeholders to better understand, access and use our collections, as well as addressing hurdles and barriers that have prevented full engagement and interaction between archivists, researchers and senior management. This reflects how the landscape of HE research funding is developing, whereby archivists and special collections are being encouraged to collaborate and lead on research, rather than solely facilitate it.
    • Advocate: To advocate on behalf of our collections, and develop internal and external networks to address needs and maximise opportunities. We recognise that many of the issues we face are shared with others across the sector. At the centre of what we do are the three EARC universities, but we will develop networks to share best practice and address issues across our region, as well as working with representative bodies, funders, and policy makers to ensure our voice is heard.

Guiding principles

In meeting these objectives, we recognise that there is a need to hold true to the guiding principles of Eastern Arc. These are: 

  • Trust: Each university, each individual, must trust each other and see the mutual benefit of collaboration.
  • Understanding: We must understand our individual strengths, as well as the contexts in which we work, and the needs of our regional, national and global communities.
  • Creativity: We must be creative, flexible and adaptive in the way we work.
  • Risk: We must be willing to take risks, and we must be willing to fail.