so far so good

11th March

Looking back over the course so far I am amazed by how far I have come in my learning. I see clearly that the principles of record keeping in the physical world carry over into the digital world. It’s just a matter of learning the technical aspects – oh that and the overwhelming volume of stuff in the digital world. I suppose we tend to treasure the distance past because there is so little of it. Undoubtedly we have benefited from the generations before us who have appraised, saved and destroyed on our behalf. It is a comfort to me to know that deterioration and accidental destruction happen in the digital world. I get overwhelmed by rate and expansion of digital material, its insidious creep and leak characteristic and unstoppable ability to copy itself or be effortlessly copied. Less is more.

I really enjoyed learning about checksum and watermarking to keep a handle on the data. I am a keen supporter of selection – like evolution let the weakest go and the strong survive through adaptation to their environment (migrate) or if they are worth it provide an environment to suit (emulation).

Management, audits, policies, standards and risk assessments are my cosy comfort zones! Although some of this was quite LARGE and complicated I could follow the game plan.

Metadata, it’s wonderful, but oh could the digital world get its act together here. All my working life I have dreamed of a world where when a new thing comes to one end of the table at least two old regimes should be swiped off the other end. Looking at the range of naming conventions and thesauri makes me despair. Whatever I do someone will think it is wrong or inappropriate. 😦 On the upside I expect I will see others do the same!

Overall I have learned a great deal, although the depth varies considerably, but I have enough knowledge to recognise the signposts and know where they lead. It’s up to me to consolidate my learning appropriately to my future career.

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Material Culture – Records and Evidence Week 5

For records and evidence this week we were looking at objects as archive, and had a wonderful talk from the textile conservation expert Frances Lennard. As part of the class we were asked to bring in an object with meaning to us, and think about what archival traces it might hold.

My items were pebbles which my mother sent from one of my favourite beaches back home in Sweden. When they first came they were in a plastic bag, so the smell of seaweed and salt had been preserved for a little while. These are the type of gifts she often sends me when I long for home – such as dried flowers from my favourite walks and herbs and mint from the garden. All of them are very tactile – the rocks and the flowers have certain scents and the herbs taste of the lime rich water in which they were grown. They create moments of feeling transported, and flashes of memory which are hard to note down in writing…

This did make me think of an article by Daniel Miller* where he describes what makes us reverent to certain objects – he described it as being ‘faced with our own mortality’. Objects have the power to make us feel connected to humans who came before us, and give us a comforting sense of belonging. In a lesser scale this is how I would describe these pebbles. They transports and connects me to my home – but there is always a sense of melancholy in that this transportation is to the past rather than the present. From looking around at the objects which others brought in this also seemed, to me at least, to be the overarching theme. What did the rest of you think?

smojen

My favourite beach – Smojen

*See Millers article in the “Companion Encyclopedia of Anthropology” (2002), ed: Tim Ingold.

IMPress Experience

The IMPRESS team have backgrounds in education, history, librarianship and sociology. The extent and scope of archiving experience is extremely broad. This includes work in Council Archives, Genealogy, Film and Television Archiving, Health Archives, Register of Sasine, Royal Societies and Special Collections.

By working in the above sectors we have accrued a collective knowledge of Appraisal, Cataloguing, Conservation, Digitisation, Exhibition Design, Palaeography, Research and Social Media, although the depth of knowledge is variable between sectors.

The transferable skills we bring from our various backgrounds are equally diverse. Our team has considerable experience in communication in customer service and working with teams. We also have a range of management skills which includes managing people and budgets, leading projects and events organisation. Our experience in risk assessment, health and safety, including fire prevention is pertinent to any future role working in an archive. We are also confident and able users of ICT. Particular strengths worth mentioning are time management, excellent organisation capability and attention to detail.

We intend to develop the following areas:

  • Increased knowledge of Archival Standards and Legislation, with particular regard to Freedom of Information, Data Protection and copyright
  • Links to the network of archival colleagues to fulfil a commitment to continuing professional development

 

Graham

Hello fellow Information Management and Preservation students.

My name is Graham McNee. I am 24 years old and I was born in Glasgow and raised in Giffnock, a suburb in the Southside Glasgow in the East Renfrewshire council area. I was an undergraduate here at the University of Glasgow. I started off doing and LLB with history but after my second year I switched to doing my Honours in history. I first developed an interest in libraries and archives as an undergraduate. As a law student, finding the precise authority relevant to the assigned problem was often the most important part of your assessment. Making use of the law library and the university library, as well as specialist databases such as Westlaw, made me aware of the importance of effective archival and library systems, both physical and digital, both for the purposes of research and in society a whole. The creation of consistent laws, whether in the common law or through statutes, depends on decisions being effectively recorded, preserved and categorised so that they can be easily referred to.

This interest was reinforced by the experience of using the universities specialist collections during my history Honours. My topic, The Role of the threat of Jacobititsim in propaganda for the union of 1707, required me to locate and examine many political pamphlets from the era. While many would consider such manuscripts for literary products than records in the traditional sense, working with them nonetheless illustrated further to me the importance of libraries and archives to facilitating greater understanding of the past through carefully preserving evidence and organising it so that it is readily accessible.

After I graduated, the memory of these experiences led me to consider archiving and records management as a potential career choice. I graduated with a 2:1 in history in 2012 but I felt little satisfaction in that achievement. I had found it difficult to balance all of my assignments during my final year. I had not established any professional connections or friendships while in university and I had few interests outside of academics. Coming to the end of my studies made me feel rather lost and adrift, as I wasn’t sure what I should do or even if there was anything I would be qualified to do.

I started to investigate MSc’s and became drawn to archiving, librarianship and information management degrees due to my past experience with. After doing some research into these professions, I came to believe that some of the qualities that I had displayed and developed during my studies, such as a strong long term memory and the use of databases for research might make me suitable for a career in these professions. I had some experience with archiving as I did a brief placement with West Dunbartonshire Council through the National Autistic Society. The placement was very short and mostly consisted of data entry. My task was to enter the catalogue number and production code of the manufacturer’s reference drawings of various types Singer Company sewing machines and to check that the photographic reference for the drawings matched the production code that it was linked to within the system, so as correct any errors that had made their way into the catalogue. Having rather enjoyed that experience, even if it was repetitive, I decided that this was a career path which presented a reasonably good chance of providing me with satisfying employment. After looking at a number of relevant courses decided to apply for the University of Glasgow’s IMP course as it offered the broadest range of professional accreditation in these fields that was available in Scotland.

I live in Giffnock with my parents, brother and sister. I am an adult only in the purely physical sense.

Graham

Kate

I’m Kate. I have worked for nearly thirty years in primary education, both as a teacher and manager. I genuinely enjoyed my work, but felt it was time for a change.

I was delighted to discover this course as it ticked all the boxes of the things I enjoy. I am a passionate family historian. I’ve been a hunter gatherer of historical records relating to my family and others for almost 40 years, in the UK and across the globe. I have experienced the huge changes in record availability and delivery as computers and the internet have become more commonly used. In the 80’s when my husband was on business in Quebec, I persuaded him to seek out a church vault and transcribe a marriage record which I can now access with the click of a mouse. Constructing a family tree has become popular and simple, but for me setting the context for people’s statutory events is fascinating. Access to good cataloguing makes it easier to enrich my understanding of our ancestors’ lives.

I really enjoy IT and in my older-person way am a bit geeky about technology. I admit I am not the most avid social net-worker, but there is still time!

When my school developed and launched its website I worked with a wonderfully creative team to design the template from scratch. We published children’s work, school information and organised the huge and ever evolving accumulation of digital items. Naming conventions and file systems established early on lasted the life of the website.

As part of my management remit in school I was responsible for regularly updating the ‘what’s new’ section on the site; this operated as a fledgling blog that parents used to interact with the school and built links across the school community and beyond. Interestingly, from my current perspective, we felt it necessary for the site to have an archive section that contained children’s work.

As a teacher and manager good record keeping has been essential throughout my career. I established uncomplicated ways to save and store resources and information, both physically and digitally. Working in an eco-school I took my role as a recycler very seriously and disposed of the mountain of defunct paper following my professional appraisal. This was very, very satisfying.

I love good order. To me the overarching learning outcome of this course is to enable me to create order from chaos or disarray, and that sounds great!

Claire

Hello

As a part-time student I’ve already completed my first year of the IMP MSc and I am excited to be getting back to work. Whilst I’m not terribly keen on blogging it’s clear that social media is playing a huge role in the workplace today so I am happy that we’re being encouraged to gain the relevant skills for our future careers.

After graduating from The University of Edinburgh with a degree in History MA (Hons) it took me a while to figure out what I wanted to do next. I was drawn to archivism out of a love for stroking old books, the smell of musty old papers, and a strong desire to know what vellum tastes like; and after working in the archive at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE) for a year I was hooked! I continued to get experience working at the Lothian Health Service Archive (LHSA) and after spending the year there I felt happy to commit to the profession and began the IMP course at Glasgow. As a part-time student my first year finished at the end of March so I used the massive summer break to get back into the archive, keen to put some of the theory I’d learned on the course into practice. I was pleased to gain a placement with the Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland (RHASS) working in their Library and Archive, where I spent a very enjoyable few months working amongst the agricultural records and spiders in Ingliston House.

These placements have all been great in allowing me to gain experience in description, cataloguing, and appraisal, and also dealing with enquiries. However, it wasn’t until I started the course that I really began to consider the theory behind archives and records management. I am particularly interested in the power of archives and archivists in society; the central role that archivists can play in deciding what is remembered and what is forgotten; and the importance in ensuring that archives are open and accessible to all members of society. I hope to expand on these subject areas in my dissertation when I eventually settle on a topic!

Despite a few back to school worries I really enjoyed the course last year and I am pleased to be back 🙂

Claire

Ursula

Hello Fellow IMPs,

Well as I declared at the session on Thursday, I’m not wildly keen on blogs, so the idea of writing abut myself and contributing to this blog fills me with an element of dread.

However I also know that skills involving Social Media and Blogs are almost routinely asked for in job profiles these days, so regardless of my personal feelings, I can see the value of this exercise and will be a willing participant. Who knows? Maybe I’ll change my mind!  So here goes…

My background is mainly in academic libraries, and film & video archives. I’ve had 10 years experience in various Higher and Further Education Libraries in Ireland, England and Scotland, in the role of Library Assistant, and 8 years with the Information & Archives department of the BBC and BBC Scotland as a Preservation Cataloguer, then as Librarian and finally as an Archive Media Manager.

In between the work, I completed a part-time BA Hons in Information Management & Library Studies at Brighton University. Brighton is a great place to live and study. I also worked in a pub there while studying, and if you get the opportunity to do so I would recommend it as a confidence building exercise, really!

I loved working with moving images and would love to continue to do so in the future. However part of the reason for taking this course is to broaden my outlook and learn more about the record keeping and business archive world generally.

I know this 9 months (I’m only doing the Post-Grad Diploma) is going to fly, so I’m planning to get as much as I can from it, before hitting that job market again (eeek). See you in class!

Ursula

Edith

Hello dear readers

My name is Edith. I am a recent Bsc Sociology graduate and a continuing Msc student on Glasgow University’s Information Management and Preservation course (yes, that’s a mouth full!). When being asked to write a few lines about myself for our IMP student group blog, I felt a bit uneasy about the prospect of doing so… As a student of Archives and Records I love writing about and delving in to the lives of others – but I have not blogged a single line about myself since DiaryLand was all the rage in the early 2000’s. I tried recovering my journal from this time for inspiration (and mortification) – but it sadly seems lost in cyberspace. From what I can gather, our task will be to attempt to archive this blog so that it will not suffer the same faith. The development of archival practices for digital material is one of the areas which I look forward to learning more about this year (and to discuss in this blog). Though I must admit that when I began my university career I had very little awareness of these issues.

During the majority of my Undergraduate degree I had not considered archives and records as a potential field for me. My determination to work towards a career in archives was first sparked by a research internship. The internship was organised by Glasgow University Archive Services in the spring of 2013. Using the Archive Service’s records opened my eyes to the great variety of work which archive professionals undertake. It further made me aware of ongoing discussions on how to make archives more accessible to users. Although I had previously used archival material for research, it was this particular experience with GUAS – and the professional ethos of archive professionals which I witnessed during this time – which made me determined to pursue a career in the field.

As a result I have spent the last year volunteering with the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow. At the RCPSG I have learnt about digitalisation, online accessibility and of common conservational issues. As medical history and policy was my main area of interest in my Bsc, this has been a real treat. Alongside this work, I partook in a heritage project with the Young Women’s Christians Association of Glasgow. This resulted in an exhibition celebrating the YWCAoG’s 140th birthday. The project also gave me my first experience of cataloguing. I am currently continuing my volunteer placement with RCPSG and I look forward to gaining more hands on experience in the coming year.

  • Edith