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Trent University Archives Receives AAO Institutional Award 2003

Imagination and innovation in programs and services recognized

The accomplishments of the Trent University Archives in digitizing its inventory and cataloguing system on the World Wide Web have been recognized with an Institutional Award from the Archives Association of Ontario (AAO).

The AAO granted the award to Trent University for its demonstrated leadership in the development of an extensive sophisticated electronic finding aid system and its outreach activities to assist with archival preservation in the region.

The Institutional Award is given to archival institutions that have contributed significantly to the advancement of the field or the community, or have demonstrated a significant level of innovation and imagination in the establishment of outstanding or model programs and services.

"The driving force behind this has been veteran archivist Bernadine Dodge, who, despite a very small staff, has been able to establish a first-class institution," the AAO citation states.

Dr. Dodge, University archivist, is honoured by the recognition from the AAO. While she admits the digitizing of the finding aids was labour intensive, she says it's been well worthwhile due to the number of people that now have access to the Trent University collections.

The nature and number of research requests the archives receives have changed dramatically since its inventory and cataloguing system went on the World Wide Web. Requests come to the archives from all over the world and have increased 50 per cent over the last five years. Today, full-text finding aids for more than 1,000 collections are available on the Internet -- an achievement unique to an archive in Canada.

"The common perception is that we have Peterborough material, but when somebody asks for something that has been buried and is extremely valuable, you think 'wow,' this is what the Internet is for," says Ms. Dodge, adding 80 per cent of research requests come to the archives via e-mail.

"It's very gratifying to see efforts which were initiated 20 years ago arrive at the stage where the benefits for researchers are proved daily. It's an added bonus to have those efforts acknowledged in this way by colleagues in the profession."

The award also recognized the tours, workshops and seminars the Trent University archives provides to other archives, historical societies, museums and genealogical groups in the area. The AAO citation states the archives have been a major influence on the preservation of archival records in the area.

For further information, or to browse the on-line collections, visit

Posted November 27, 2003

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