Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) started collecting archives and special collections not long after its inauguration in April 1993. This new activity came under the management of the University Library where it has remained. From 1993 to 2010 it was managed by the Collection Manager. The collections grew and Archives became part of Research Collections, a cross domain team which also included Special Collections, Heatherbank Museum of Social Work and the Centre for Political Song. In time this structure changed and all the resources from these four sections were brought together as Archives and Special Collections and fell under the management of the University Archivist from April 2010.
The physical location of the resources moved over the years as part of the Library’s expansion on GCU’s Glasgow campus. A new Archive Centre was built in the summer of 2016 and marked an important milestone in the development of the service. The Archive Centre is housed in the Sir Alex Ferguson Library were it displays a collection of Sir Alex Ferguson’s personal memorabilia.
The main purpose of the Centre is to select, preserve and make available the archives and special collections of the University to the highest standards. Central to this are GCU’s institutional records worthy of permanent preservation which give evidence about the functions, policies and decisions of the University and ensure its historical continuity. Other deposited archives and special collections enhance the research and curricula needs of the University and contribute to an understanding of local and national heritage. The service is free of charge and open to all.
The institutional records of the University’s predecessor bodies, and a special book collection from the Queen’s College, Glasgow were its first inherited resources. The University collects donated resources as part of its Mission and Collecting Policy and its subject strengths include Scottish left wing politics, trades unions, campaign and pressure groups; Scottish social work, social policy and child welfare; Scottish public health; Scottish social enterprise; Scottish creative arts; and the University and its parent institutions' contribution to the development of Scottish higher education from the late 19th century onwards (dating back to 1875 and the formation of the Glasgow School of Cookery). There is an overriding theme of Scottish social history and social justice. This sits well with the mission of Glasgow Caledonian University as the University for the Common Good, providing resources to enhance the learning, teaching and research experience within the broad social justice arena. The Centre is also active in both community and cultural engagement.