KvinnSam - research infrastructure for the entire university

26 September 2019

Access to research infrastructure is often a prerequisite for innovative, high-quality research. Since April 2018, KvinnSam at the University of Gothenburg has been just that. This means a greater focus on the researcher perspective and, as previously, high demands on excellence in staff and an overall look at all material from GU from a gender and equality perspective.

Linda Börjesson

The fact that KvinnSam at Gothenburg University Library is a university-wide research infrastructure is not only a big thing for the library but an important resource and facilitator for interdisciplinary research in many areas.

“As a research infrastructure, we now have received a steering committee consisting of representatives from most faculties at the University of Gothenburg. They look at our business plans from new angles and provide useful feedback to us from a research perspective. This has meant that KvinnSam now has the opportunity to broaden the perspective and be able to give the researchers more of what they actually need and demand as well as support high quality research,” says Linda Börjesson, temporary director at KvinnSam.

KvinnSam now wants to make both its competence and resources available to more researchers at the university. Even today, KvinnSam is a popular part of the library through its unique archive, its book collection and its databases.

“We are sitting on a large collection that is constantly growing and it is a challenge for us to reach out with all the knowledge we have,” Linda continues. Our mission is, among other things, to make our resources available and it is the researchers who, by asking questions and looking at the material from new angles, bring life to it in a way that we as university librarians and archivists cannot do. We need them!

Not just women's history

By using the expertise of the employees working at KvinnSam, there are great opportunities even for researchers who might not normally research in KvinnSam's areas, to benefit from their resources. There is a lot of material to look for that is useful for, for example, organisational issues such as putting together an action plan for sexual harassment in their workplace or if you want to have an equality perspective on your research.

“We go through all publications that come in to Gothenburg University Library and index it to make it searchable via our database KVINNSAM if it has bearing on our subjects. It offers great opportunities for interdisciplinary searches and to quickly access the material you are interested in, says Linda Börjesson.”

Complicated searches are something that the university librarians at KvinnSam are happy to help with, and their skills come in handy when it comes to locating contact persons, other researchers and materials.

“Many of us have degrees in gender science and everyone has knowledge of how to find material regarding gender science and women's history. It is important to have a sense of where different things can be found, not least with regard to women's historical archives. The Swedish Archival Community (Arkivsverige) is very widespread, therefore our knowledge of who knew each other in, for example, the right to vote and where each archive can be found is very important for conducting research, she continues.”

Facts about KvinnSam

KvinnSam is a national library for gender research placed at the Humanities Library. The business consists of monitoring and listing literature on gender issues, collecting, arranging and listing women's historical archive material and providing reference services.

KvinnSam produces several databases. Largest is the database KVINNSAM, which contains about 150,000 references, based on literature in the collections of the university library. GENA lists Swedish dissertations with a gender perspective and in the research database GREDA you can search for gender researchers. In addition to the databases, a manuscript collection is provided consisting of letters, manuscripts, minutes, photos and other source material.

KvinnSam started in 1958 as a private initiative, then under the name Kvinnohistoriskt arkiv (Women's History Archive). In April 2018, the Vice-Chancellor decided to set up the business as a research infrastructure at the University of Gothenburg.