The Archives at the National Centre for Biological Sciences, or the Archives, is dedicated to holding institutional records that capture its organizational and scientific history. It is also a collecting Archive, and through an active accessioning programme, it hopes to grow to be a space for the history of biology in India over the past 150 years. Through its collections, the Archives will assist in connecting the dots on scientific and organizational trajectories across the scales of biology – from molecules to ecosystems. The Archives is governed by a guiding Archives Policy, an internal Archives Review Committee, and an external review board. The Archives adheres to the philosophy of archiving and the policies laid by the International Council on Archives (ICA) in the Universal Declaration on Archives (2011), the Code of Ethics (1996) and the Principles of Access to Archives (2012).

Archives enable diverse stories. This aim guides our work, the purpose of an archive and what environments it could nourish in the future. In addition to the setting up of a repository, the Archives is also undertaking four other collaborative projects over the coming three years.

The first is to release an open source storytelling template as an additional layer to the Archives digital portal. This is a space where researchers, students and the public can form diverse stories from archival material. To seed this space, the Archives digital space includes an exhibit titled “Thirteen ways”. The exhibit is a pilot project that tries to bring to light multiple interpretations of NCBS, weaved by the voices of over 70 story tellers, 600 photographs, official records, and letters.

This model will then branch out to other science archives in India. The Archives at NCBS proposes the development of an interconnected digital archive of science. Starting with five pilot repositories from Indian scientific institutions, the project will link archival material and individual’s private papers and collections and make it available through a digital platform to historians, journalists, scientific researchers and the general public.

The third project is on developing standards across archival material. The Archives at NCBS is a member in the second pilot phase of the Social Networks and Archival Context Cooperative (SNAC-C), which operates out of the University of Virginia in the United States. The SNAC Cooperative (http://snaccooperative.org/) is an effort to connect archival material across the world and help discover, locate, and use distributed historical records.

The fourth project is on embedding material from science archives and research in archival repositories in a pedagogical framework. For the archives to be continuously relevant, it has to listen to and speak to those who will be custodians in the next generation. The Archives at NCBS already has an active internship programme with students from history, the basic sciences, education, design and journalism. The Archives is committed to building curriculum around archival material and work on pilot projects with students in schools and colleges.

The Archives team can be reached at archives@ncbs.res.in.