After having completed a voluntary placement at the Lothian Health Services Archive and a Club 21 placement at GUAS, I realised that I wanted to pursue a career in the world of archives.
I was very fortunate to gain the one-year, full-time position as an Archive Assistant (Graduate Trainee) at GUAS in July 2011. My position is split which is brilliant as I receive both record management and archive experience. On a Monday – Wednesday I am the Record Centre Assistant and I am based between the University Archives and Record Centre. On a Thursday and Friday, I am an Archive Assistant at the NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde Board Archive which is run by the University of Glasgow and based at the Mitchell Library.
As Record Centre Assistant, I have gained a great understanding of the different kinds of responsibilities that exist in record management. It is my responsibility to carry out file retrievals for university departments which involves learning how to navigate the record management database for file locations and ensuring the files are delivered on time across campus. I have learnt the importance of retention schedules for records and regularly carry out destructions of records which have come to the end of their retention dates. I also carry out projects based on Record Centre collections. For example, I am currently working on an exam paper project where I am removing duplicate papers from different collections in an attempt to confine existing exam papers to one location in the archive. I also box list new accessions to the archive in preparation for the contents to be catalogued. I really enjoy this as I get to dig deep and see what is actually in a new collection, whether it is diaries, accounts or maybe even photographs!
At the NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde Board Archive, my time as an Archive Assistant is completely different. My main responsibility is to both attend to any readers that may visit and to answer remote enquiries. I really enjoy speaking to readers in the search-room where I have a chance to ask them what they are interested in looking at and I also demonstrate to new readers how to use our catalogues. Due to every enquiry being different, in quite a short-space of time I feel I have learnt a huge amount of information regarding both hospitals and asylums in Glasgow. Due to the nature of the records we handle at the NHS Archive, I have also become aware of the importance of the Data Protection Act. In addition to answering enquiries and helping readers, I have also worked on a variety of cataloguing projects. In the past 8 months, I have catalogued approximately 80 Stobhill Hospital plans, the records of the Mental Health Partnership, and I am currently listing items for the British Medical Ultrasound Society. These have all been really interesting collections to get to know, and they have allowed me to work with a variety of items such as building plans and administrative records.
If you are thinking that a career in the archives sector is something you would like to pursue, then I would definitely recommend applying for the GUAS traineeship! As well as gaining first hand experience in a record centre and archive, I have also had trips to Glasgow City Archives, The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons and the Ballast Trust which has given me a great understanding of the different types of archives out there.
I have thoroughly enjoyed my time as a trainee at GUAS and I am going to be sad to leave, but I really feel the traineeship has put me in a fantastic position to embark on the Archives and Record Management MA course at University College London which I begin in September.
Archive Assistant (Graduate Trainee)
21st March 2012