Palladium: Providing Access to Large Literary Archives in a Digital Medium

The University of Manchester Library has been awarded funding by Arts Council England to tackle the huge challenges involved in managing and making accessible modern literary archives in digital formats.

Access to email archives is fraught with technical, legal and ethical issues. As a result, many contemporary writers risk falling off a 'digital cliff': drafts of their works and email correspondence with fellow authors, publishers and critics may soon be unreadable. Even when libraries are able to preserve these records, access is restricted by issues of data protection and confidentiality.

These issues will be tackled using the funding for the Palladium project (Providing Access to Large Literary Archives in a Digital Medium). The project has been awarded over £87,000 from Arts Council England’s Designation Development Fund to address these challenges.

The focus of the project will be the archive of Carcanet Press, a Manchester-based poetry publisher, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2019. The University of Manchester Library’s Special Collections holds the archives of Carcanet Press and the project will explore ways to provide literary scholars and other audiences with access to 350,000 emails within their archive.

The project will ensure the long-term, sustainable preservation and management of these extraordinary research resources, and develop innovative means of access to them for a wide range of audiences.

It will also explore the potential for email archives to support new areas of digital scholarship, such as data visualisations, and it will invite creative responses from artists and writers.

We are thrilled to be one of the first libraries to receive support from Arts Council England’s Designation Development Fund. This ground-breaking project will reveal the incredible riches of the Carcanet Press email archive. The award recognises the importance of this collection, as well as the urgent need for libraries and archives to address the challenges of preserving and making accessible digital archives.
Christopher Pressler, John Rylands University Librarian and Director of The University of Manchester Library