I was new to Oxford and to archives when I started the traineeship. I studied French and History, then went to teach English in France before returning to the UK to pursue a career in archives. After volunteering in a local museum, where I was introduced to the challenges of managing digital material, I embarked on the digital archives traineeship.
The traineeship is ideal as it combines an emphasis on digital archives with more traditional skills, which means that the training is very rounded. Studying for the postgraduate diploma from Aberystwyth University helps with this too, introducing you to a comprehensive range of theoretical and practical topics. Working full time and undertaking the Archives Administration course in two years does mean that the pace is intensive, but the support from colleagues and the fact that what you are studying is directly applicable and relevant to your work, means that the process is really engaging.
I am really enjoying the variety of work: I can be working on the Bodleian Libraries Web Archive; appraising and cataloguing project files for the Oxfam archive; using different databases and programs; and attending training and conferences on topics such as preserving social media. Working in the reading rooms you also gain valuable experience of how the collections are used. I’m looking forward to cataloguing my own collections, capturing digital material and undertaking a development project with a software engineer. There are lots of opportunities to get involved, for example with the UK Web Archive, led by the British Library. For the first year of the scheme you also attend training sessions for the Graduate Library Trainees programme on topics such as manual handling, e-resources, supporting disabled readers, and digitisation projects.
Being a digital archivist trainee is very rewarding. It is a great place to work, with fantastic colleagues, and I’m looking forward to the next two years and becoming a qualified archivist.
Rachael Gardner, Dec 2015