Updates from former trainees

Former trainees on their next steps following completion of their traineeships at the Bodleian Libraries:

Kelly Burchmore, Graduate Trainee Digital Archivist 2017-2019, Oct 2019

Kelly at the Weston Library, Oct 2019

Kelly in front of the Daniel Meadows display, Weston Library, Oct 2019

In March 2019, fresh out of the traineeship, I began a 3 month Project Archivist role at Archives & Special Collections for University of Surrey. This role allowed me to both build on my cataloguing experience I had gained at the Bodleian Libraries to create a detailed catalogue of the Geraldine Stephenson archive, and to take full ownership of a project with a strict brief and deadlines. I was also able to inform cataloguing practice and processes in the department going forward, by making suggestions which were incorporated into their guidance manuals. My 3 months in Special Collections at Surrey were a great balance of experiencing how other institutions do things differently, and developing both theoretical and practical knowledge from the traineeship. One of the things I love most about working as an archivist is that you never stop learning, as the community and best practice is always developing.

My second post as a newly qualified archivist is a return to the Bodleian Libraries’ Special Collections department at the Weston Library, in the role of Newly Qualified Project Archivist. My time is split across three to four different projects, so my week tends to be really varied. For example, I have currently finished the first edition catalogue for the Archive of Daniel Meadows, photographer and social documentarist – a project which offered up various challenges, all of which I relished, including: submitting a detailed project proposal, conservation for extensive photographic material, the separation and capture of digital material and working with various stakeholders such as Daniel Meadows himself, as well as the exhibitions department. Currently I also work as a team with two digital archivist trainees on the Bodleian Libraries’ Web Archive, which means I am able to build on technical skills and applying solutions I first learned in the traineeship.

Since qualifying, the Archives and Records Association (ARA) Section for New Professionals (SfNP) is a really valuable community I have appreciated, they organise and host seminars which are a great opportunity network and meet fellow new professionals, and offer bursaries to support newly qualified archivists.

The digital archivist traineeship equipped me with the skills and attitude needed to pursue a career in archives, and I recommend it wholeheartedly. I also feel so grateful for the traineeship providing me with experience of, and exposure to, many aspects of the sector; I draw on these experiences and learning curves in my work to date.

Harriet Costelloe, Graduate Trainee Digital Archivist 2014-2016, Sep 2019

Harriet Costelloe at the University of Surrey, 2019

Harriet setting up a display for an Open Day at the University of Surrey, 2019 

After completing my traineeship I took up a post as Digital Development Officer at The National Archives. I developed information resources, carried out research on issues affecting the archives sector, and ran workshops on understanding archives catalogues. In this role I also had project management training and contributed to the assessments of archives for The National Archives’ Accreditation programme. I then moved to be College Archivist at Royal Holloway, University of London. As the sole archivist, I managed the acquisition and preservation of, and access to, the university’s collections through developing policies and procedures for the service, cataloguing material, invigilating in the research room, accommodating group visits and giving public talks, and teaching within academic departments. I also oversaw a move into a new store and co-curated the first large-scale archives exhibition at the university.

I am now the Archivist (Public Services) at the University of Surrey with responsibility for managing the research room, running our outreach programme and delivering archives sessions to students. I also contribute to exhibitions work undertaken by the team and am undertaking a Graduate Certificate in Learning and Teaching to reflect my commitment to and interest in using archives in higher education teaching. I still look back very fondly at my traineeship and am grateful for the skills I learnt and the opportunities it has afforded.

Rachael Gardner, Graduate Trainee Digital Archivist 2015-2017, Oct 2019

Rachael Gardner at Kew Gardens, 2019

Rachael in the palm house at Kew, 2019 

Following my traineeship, I began work as a Project Cataloguer working on the Georgian Papers Programme at the Royal Archives, which is a large-scale digitisation, cataloguing and research project making all the Royal Archives’ Georgian material freely accessible online. Here I catalogued papers of George IV to item level, supported researchers, and gained experience of digitisation workflows. This built on the cataloguing and palaeography experience I had developed at the Bodleian.

I then moved to the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, where I am currently in the middle of a two-year project cataloguing the Miscellaneous Reports Collection, a large collection of nineteenth and twentieth century material relating to global and colonial networks of economic botany. I am responsible for the cataloguing of this complex collection, which includes correspondence, printed reports, newspaper cuttings, photographs, illustrations, and even plant specimens. My role has included implementing new cataloguing and indexing protocols, using linked data to index botanical names, managing volunteers, and promoting the collection to researchers and the public through exhibitions, group visits, social media, talks, and academic events.

I really enjoyed my traineeship and am grateful for the brilliant opportunity it gave me to gain skills in a wide variety of archive work, which has given me a useful grounding for my career so far.

Miten Mistry, Graduate Trainee Digital Archivist 2017-2019, Sep 2019

 Miten at the Being Human exhibition at Wellcome Collection

Miten at the Being Human exhibition at Wellcome Collection, 2019 
Image by Steven Pocock, Wellcome Collection

The traineeship at the Bodleian Libraries was a great experience and helped me on my way to pursuing a career in archives. Post traineeship, after applying for several jobs, I secured a position at the Wellcome Collection as a cataloguing archivist for the International Psychoanalytical Association (IPA) archive. I thought this role would be limited to only cataloguing activities, however the size, complexity and variety of Wellcome Collection has allowed me to do a lot more.

The day to day cataloguing of the IPA archive has involved all aspects of archival processing with the addition of dealing with the expected and unexpected issues that arise with the logistical challenge of a large collection. Part of my role involves regular desk duty in the Rare Materials room, the Library Enquiry desk and answering email enquires. I have also been able to undertake acquisition work with our collections development team and get involved with digital archiving with regards to processes and workflows.

I would recommend the traineeship as it exposes you to all aspects of working in a large archive. There are similarities and differences between the Bodleian Libraries and the Wellcome Collection, however the skills I gained from the traineeship have been invaluable in helping me adapt to working in a new archive and environment.  

Ben Peirson Smith, Graduate Trainee Digital Archivist 2017-2019, Sep 2019

Ben Peirson Smith in Manchester

Ben in Manchester, 2019

Since completing my traineeship at the Bodleian in March 2019 I have begun working as a Digital Archivist in the Research and Knowledge Exchange Directorate at Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU). My current role has involved applying my digital archive skills to research data management. The work in this role has included developing institutional data management plans for research projects, consulting academics on which file formats to use for live research data and long-term storage, integrating the DCC lifecycle model into how data is managed at the University, customising and delivering training to academic staff, and conducting metadata audits within the various systems used by RKE systems. Alongside this, I have been involved in contributing towards MMUs REF2021 submission; this has included developing digital portfolios that evidence practice-based research and auditing the REF open access compliance of academic journals deposited into MMUs e-space digital repository. 

Iram Safdar, Graduate Trainee Digital Archivist 2017-2019, Sep 2019

Iram Safdar at Historic Environment Scotland, 2019

Iram at Historic Environment Scotland, 2019

After completing my Graduate Digital Archivist traineeship at the Bodleian Libraries, I moved back to Scotland to join Historic Environment Scotland, the lead public body established to investigate, care for and promote Scotland’s historic environment, as a Digital Archivist for the Digital Projects Team. Situated in the Archives department, the Digital Projects Team is a three-year funded project aiming to significantly increase the volume of our archival material made accessible online. My role in the team is to manage the cataloguing and ingest of the born-digital material which has been deposited with the Digital Archive. This material consists primarily of archaeological project archives, as well architectural and maritime projects, and includes photographs, computer-aided design drawings, video footage, spatial data and more. This work has helped to inform appraisal policy, archival description standards, and digital preservation workflows. I utilise the skills I developed while undertaking my traineeship and Diploma on a daily basis, to enhance the discoverability of our collections, and ensure their long-term accessibility via the implementation of a robust digital preservation infrastructure, and I look forward to seeing developments in this sector in the years to come. 

 

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