What’s it like to be a trainee? Ashleigh Fowler, Graduate Trainee Digital Archivist 2016-2018

I started this traineeship just over a month after graduating with a BA in English. I knew from my first year as an undergraduate that I wanted to pursue a career in archiving, and beginning this traineeship has already pushed me so much further towards my goal than I ever would have expected to be at this point.

During my time as an undergrad I had a placement in the Special Collections department at the University of Nottingham which gave me a great first insight into archiving, but this traineeship is providing me with skills that will be invaluable when I’m qualified. I had no experience with digital archiving when I started, only ever paper, but I’m finding it a fascinating aspect of archiving to be involved in. I’m especially enjoying web-archiving, which is something I never expected I would be working on before this traineeship but has become one of my favourite regular tasks. The work is so varied that I definitely feel as though I’m building a rounded and relevant skill-set. One day I might be working on a literary archive, the next I might be working with floppy disks or working in the reading room – it really is very varied.

The Aberystwyth study supports the day to day work, by providing more background and theoretical basis into what I’m doing on the job. It is hard work studying for a post-graduate diploma and working full-time, but as the work and study complement each other well and both are enjoyable it really doesn’t feel as exhausting as it sounds.

I attended an Archives and Records Association literary archives training event recently, and I’m looking forward to future opportunities to attend similar events with the chance to gain outside training and to meet others who are working in archives to see how their experience differs to that of working for the Bodleian. The training sessions with the library trainees are also useful to see how the Bodleian Libraries and College Libraries function in a wider sense, so you can get a feel for where your role fits into the Bodleian as whole… and for a chance to see the BSF in Swindon (and its 153 miles of shelving!)

Ashleigh Fowler, Nov 2016

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