I have now completed two of my placements within Archive Services, the first in Document Delivery and the second as Searchroom Assistant.
I’ve found Document Delivery to be a balancing act. You really have three jobs: document delivery to the searchroom, file retrievals to the rest of the University and Searchroom Assistant at break-times.
We’ve had a fairly busy searchroom these past few months, and even with advance booking and forward planning, there will always be things you can’t plan ahead for. A ‘quick’ trip to the records centre in Dunaskin or Thurso Street can take you away from the searchroom for up to half an hour, and in that time piles of requests can build up or a new reader pop in. It’s probably the best introduction to the service you can get, as you’re dealing with different collections and university departments everyday, along with sharpening up your time-management skills. (And biceps. Lots of heavy boxes).
I have had a brief spell as Searchroom Assistant as refurbishment work prevented us from running a searchroom service. Chatting to readers about their research is enjoyable; especially when I am able to help them find other collections they may be interested in. I’ve also learned more about what kind of information is available in each collection. Working for a month in our newly refurbished searchroom has been great!
While the searchroom was closed, I found myself doing lots of enquiry research. It can become really absorbing, especially when a reader has commissioned specific research. Recently I’ve been gathering evidence of the Templeton Carpets takeover, tracing a detective’s involvement in the famous Ruxton Case and locating contracts for Florence Harrison’s illustrations for the Scottish publisher Blackie and Sons. It can become a bit of a quest to find every last detail available! I especially like it when a hunch about a catalogue entry proves to be accurate.
Our organised visits have been really valuable as well. We have visited the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons, the Scottish Screen Archive, Glasgow City Archives, The Ballast Trust, Strathclyde University Archives and National Archives of Scotland. I think it is fantastic experience to see the ways in which archivists deal with similar challenges: funding, environmental standards, conservation, and reliance on volunteers.
I am about to start my cataloguing placement working on the Stoddard’s Design Archive, which is really exciting. I can’t wait to see original designs by Charles Rennie Mackintosh, Owen Jones and Mary Quant. I’m also a big John Byrne fan so I’m hoping there may be some of his designs in the collection.
Categories: Archive Services