Bodleian trains the digital archivists of the future

Digital archiving equipment

23 May 2014 

The Bodleian Libraries has launched a new initiative aiming to train a new generation of archivists. Part of the Heritage Lottery Fund’s Skills for the Future programme, the Developing the Next Generation Archivist project will provide trainees with the foundation they need to develop an archives career at a time when libraries are evolving to curate increasingly digital collections. The Bodleian is now seeking its first two trainees, who will begin their two-year training programme from September 2014. A further four trainees will complete the programme over the next five years.

Working alongside curatorial staff, trainees will focus on developing digital archiving know-how but will also acquire more traditional curatorial skills such as interpreting collection material and working with scholars. The trainees will be located at the newly refurbished Weston Library. Here they will enjoy access to facilities designed to provide the best possible environment for the Bodleian’s outstanding Special Collections, and to widen access to some of the Libraries great treasures through new spaces for exhibitions and lectures.

Alongside paid intensive on-the-job training at the Library, trainees will undertake an accredited vocational qualification with Aberystwyth University through distance learning, with their course fees met in full by the project.

This project is meant to open the door to applicants who might not have previously considered a career in archives, and it is hoped that the project will attract a wide range of applicants. One of the goals of the project is to encourage diversity in the workforce for the future, and it particularly encourages individuals with backgrounds in Science, Technology, Engineering and Medicine to consider a career in archives.

Susan Thomas, Head of Archives & Modern Manuscripts, Bodleian Libraries: ‘Trainees will have the opportunity to learn traditional archiving skills as well as developing the knowledge they will need to curate the most modern, digital, archives. Training on-the-job with our superb collections while earning a postgraduate diploma from Aberystwyth University offers the very best of both worlds. We are delighted to be able to offer this scheme and look forward to welcoming our first trainees in September.’

Lecturer Sarah Higgins said 'Aberystwyth University’s Department of Information Studies is excited to be working in collaboration with the Bodleian Libraries to train future Digital Archivists. This is an area of the archives profession where there is a real skills gap and this innovative trainee scheme will result in fully competent staff with an holistic skill-set. We’re looking forward to welcoming the first trainees on our distance learning Archive Administration course in September'.

A full job description including selection criteria and how to apply can be found on the Bodleian Libraries website.

About the Skills for Future Programme

In May 2013 the Heritage Lottery Fund awarded £20.1million to 39 first-round projects. This money will deliver 876 new placements, adding up to 918 years’ worth of paid training opportunities for people seeking a career in heritage. It will not only support traditional heritage skills, key to sustaining our rich cultural landscape, but also a wide variety of more contemporary ones, such as business planning and digital skills, to ensure the heritage industry remains resilient.

Skills for the Future funds work-based training in a wide range of skills that are needed to look after buildings, landscapes, habitats, species, and museum and archive collections, as well as equipping people to lead education and outreach programmes, manage volunteers and utilise digital technologies. The HLF give grants to organisations that can demonstrate a skills shortage and are able to plan and develop a new training programme and to recruit, train and pay trainees new to the sector.

This initiative is intended to:

  • increase the range and quality of work-based training to develop skills in the heritage sector
  • meet identified skills shortages in the heritage sector
  • increase the capacity of the sector to deliver training and share good practice
  • increase the diversity of the heritage workforce.


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