Memornet Doctoral programme for experts in memory institutions

During the last twenty years national memory institutions – libraries, museums and archives – have actively enhanced their collaboration, for example, by starting joint projects to develop digitalized services. In 2007, three national memory institutions and six universities founded a research network on national memory functions (Memornet) to promote basic research and research education in the field. The net-work applied and received funding from the Academy of Finland for a doctoral school which recruited its first doctoral students in January 2012.

The goal of the Memornet doctoral programme is to educate academically qualified researchers and specialists for libraries, archives, museums and other organizations with related functions. The special feature of the Memornet doctoral programme is that it builds on close cooperation of professional and academic bodies. The joint effort enabled the fund-raising for this special field and gathered together diverse academic resources needed to run a multidisciplinary doctoral programme. Presently the school offers six fully paid four-year positions for doctoral students.

Five students were recruited for the full four year period and three others for a shorter time. In addition, four students are associated to the programme and receive limited financial support. About one half of the students have already built a professional career and the other half continued directly from Master’s programmes. The focus of most students is on digitalized resources. Research topics range from organizing and accessing different types of digital resources to long-term preservation of digital cultural heritage.

Memornet organizes seminars and workshops for students and their supervisors. Internationally and nationally recognized scholars are invited as keynote speakers. Home universities are mainly responsible for the individual supervision of students. The coordinator of the programme, University of Tampere, is responsible for organizing joint educational activities and maintaining the quality of supervision.

Libraries are typically better prepared to meet the challenges of the Information Age than archives and museums. Similarly library and information science is more established as an academic discipline than archival science and museology. However, our experiences in the Memornet research net-work and doctoral programme suggest that cooperation across institutional and academic boundaries benefits all participants. Memornet offers a concrete model of how to strengthen the role of memory institutions in research and research education.

Head of the Memornet doctoral programme University of Tampere, School of Information Sciences